Caral with the WE50 trophy

Green Councillor Carla Denyer named one of the top women in engineering

23 June 2020

Carla Denyer has been named as one of the Top 50 Women in Engineering for 2020 by the Women’s Engineering Society. The awards highlight the exceptional attainments made by female engineers across the country. Councillor Carla Denyer is a Mechanical Engineer specialising in renewable energy, and received the award in recognition of her leading work on tackling climate change in Bristol, as she led Bristol in becoming the first city in Europe to declare a Climate Emergency. Before going into politics she worked assessing the potential energy generation for new wind farms and became an ambassador for the technology by developing a Wind Farm Game for school children to explain wind engineering through play.

Councillor Denyer was nominated by Nicola Grahamslaw, a Bristol-based engineer who works at the SS Great Britain and is herself a previous WE50 winner.

Nicola Grahamslaw said:

“Since being elected Councillor Denyer has put her background in renewable engineering to good use through working for decarbonisation in Bristol and beyond. She wrote Europe’s first Climate Emergency motion, which committed Bristol to become carbon neutral by 2030.  This started a wave of similar motions across the country, with over 400 councils, the UK Parliament, and Scottish and Welsh governments following suit. She has provided support and advice to local authorities and other organisations, and has been invited to speak to groups as diverse as a chartered institute, an art summit, the Club of Rome and local schoolchildren. She also co-led a campaign calling on Bristol University to divest from fossil fuels, resulting in full divestment this year.

“I’m really passionate about communicating the huge variety of careers that engineering skills and experience can be useful for, so when I heard the theme of this year’s Top 50 was sustainability, nominating Carla seemed like a really great way to highlight the value of engineering in a career that can have a big impact on wider society.”

Councillor Denyer said:

“I am thrilled to receive this award and grateful to Nicola for nominating me. Even though I am not currently working in the industry I will always be an engineer at heart, and I bring that to all the work I do, including politics. It feels great to be recognised for my contribution in the global fight against climate change.

“People often comment on how many impressive, capable and knowledgeable women there are in leadership roles in the Green Party, but what is less well known is how many of them are scientists and engineers. From my fellow Bristol Green councillors Eleanor Combley (physics and software engineering) and Jude English (physics) to national figures such as Green Party co-leader Siân Berry (metallurgy) and deputy leader Amelia Womack (environmental biology and environmental technology), there are many Green Party women whose politics is informed by their strong STEM background. I consider this a great strength.

“I can’t wait to (virtually) meet and learn more about the other 49 award winners, all of whom are leaders in sustainability.”

Carla Denyer with the Women's Engineering Society trophy


Elizabeth Donnelly, Chief Executive Officer of the Women’s Engineering Society explained why WES had chosen the theme of sustainability for 2020:

“The 2019 Climate Emergency Declarations followed unprecedented weather conditions across the planet. Engineers were instrumental in repairing the Toddbrook Dam after it collapsed in August last year, and it will be engineers who will provide many of the solutions needed to address the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. We felt that it was the right time to showcase the amazing women who are already working on these issues.”

Denyer has also received the following honours and awards for her work on the Climate Emergency:

  • ‘Special mention’ in the ‘Environment and Sustainability Pioneer’ category, LGiU Councillor Achievement Awards 2019
  • Outstanding Achievement Award 2019, LGA Independent Group
  • Nominated for Diverse Politician, Bristol Diversity Awards 2019
  • Politician of the Year, The Big Green Politics Podcast 2018


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