Climate change is one of the greatest existential threats humanity has ever faced. Engineers Australia’s second Climate Smart Engineering conference, which will be held this month, will attempt to chart a path to net zero.
November is an important month at Engineers Australia with our Climate Smart Engineering conference back for a second year, again demonstrating our commitment to climate leadership.
The conference brings together people from a diverse range of engineering disciplines, industry sectors, and environmental and social governance backgrounds – all with a commonality of addressing climate change in its many manifestations.
The engineering profession is central to climate solutions, including through integrated infrastructure planning, advanced technology, skills and energy capacity to name just a few.
Our Climate Smart Engineering conference is about ideas and action.
It’s about making critically important connections and expanding our networks to serve as deeper conduits to great engineering outcomes and the opening up of doors of opportunity in our modern workplaces.
It’s about respectfully learning from each other as an informed Engineers Australia climate community – whether you’re a member or not; and also as a collective who cares about the profession being publicly regarded as innovative, responsible and solutions focused.
Engineers Australia’s Climate Change Position Statement observes that as engineers our perspectives are firmly grounded in science and risk management.
After almost 30 years of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change assessment reports on the state of this global crisis, I hope our community of applied scientists increasingly feel that they possess the skills and influence to manage the uncertainties of climate impacts for all engineered systems and assets.
But we can re-engineer this threat and turn it into a catalyst for opportunity. We can do this by striving for more circular economies that nurture the environment; that foster a safer, fairer and less polluting and wasteful existence and see nature as a valuable asset for a sustainable and prosperous economy.
Engineering is at the forefront of making this vision a reality. Engineering-led innovations such as blockchain, machine learning, satellite monitoring and measurement, mass communications, decentralised energy, and artificial intelligence (to name but a few) can help to create economic opportunity. They also shine a very bright global spotlight on our management of greenhouse gas emissions.
Indeed, wherever emissions are being released – from deforestation to industrial methane producing facilities – these engineering solutions can identify who is responsible and the scale of what needs to be done to make good.
And this gives me optimism for the future – knowing that our engineering competency and ingenuity continues to strive to make real-world differences in the challenges and opportunities presented by climate change.
I’d also like to observe that our recent accreditations to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA), and the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) position Engineers Australia as an emerging global engineering voice of influence.
Closer to home – to all those attending our Climate Smart Engineering conference, thank you for not only being Engineers Australia’s greatest champions on climate but for also being our greatest assets in helping to win the climate change battle.
Dr Nick Fleming is the National President of Engineers Australia.
Speakers at the Climate Smart Engineering conference include high-profile electrification proponent Dr Saul Griffith and IPCC report author Kevin Hennessy. See the full line-up here.
I’m all for “going green” but surely we MUST “keep the lights on” So the overwhelming issue is how do we store or produce power at night, especially when there is little or no wind? Solar is off. Gas is an emitter – about half of coal. So to get to nett zero, presumably gas has to go? Currently, black and brown coal produce about 60% of Australia’s power at night. Replacing this is a HUGE task. South Australia/Tesla built the so called “big battery” at Hornsdale near Jamestown for $172m. But it only supplies 193.5 MWh which is enough to power SA for about 15 minutes.
So I suggest that EA focus on this major issue and leave peripheral issues like EVs for others.
For background data, see the App called pocketNEM or a website called energydash. There you can see where power comes from in real time.