Carbon footprint and risk assessments
- Author: Robert Thorniley-Walker 1
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- Source: Proceedings of the ICE - Energy, Volume 164, Issue 4, 01 November 2011 , pages 147 –160
All projects should include risk assessments for impacts of carbon emissions, as recommended by the Engineering Council. This paper uses data from a survey of engineering opinions to consider input to the assessment matrix covering hazards, probabilities, global impact and timescales. Output from the risk assessment in the form of mitigation and action are discussed in a similar manner. The engineering opinions indicate probabilities and potential loss of life that are orders-of-magnitude worse than normal civilian hazards. However, emissions from construction are usually ignored, and most ‘sustainability’ criteria concentrate on long timescales and other environmental issues that miss the critical dangers. Case studies illustrate the innovation and challenges that need to be addressed. They also outline difficulties when using the new readily available carbon-count figures, which often have unexpected assumptions that can obscure the key properties being assessed. It is concluded that carbon emissions in the simple risk assessment matrix should influence all types of project. For example, assessing the dangers from nuclear, fossil or other power sources in this manner would yield interesting results. The moral, legal and professional impact of the risk assessments should affect most decisions, particularly where there is no adequate mitigation for dangerous emissions.