This year’s theme for World Engineering Day is “Build Back Wiser, Engineering the Future”. What does this mean to the work of Engineers Australia and how can engineers contribute towards climate change action?
Engineers Australia CEO Dr Bronwyn Evans AM HonFIEAust CPEng and National President and Chair Dr Nick Fleming FIEAust CPEng EngExec NER share their thoughts.
Climate change is an urgent challenge and requires the biggest engineering transition Australia has faced. Engineers are crucial to this — through developing innovative and affordable technologies and systems to create solutions such as green hydrogen, low emissions steel, energy storage, and carbon capture utilisation and storage.
This transition must span all industries including energy, manufacturing and transport and it requires engineering in partnership to achieve a common goal.
As the voice of the profession, Engineers Australia is uniquely placed to drive these collaborations with government, business and communities to address the impacts of climate change and engineer solutions.
Our profession has an integral role to play in engineering this future.
Engineers will be key to designing and managing systems and technologies to beat climate change, strengthen our health systems, and bolster supply chains. Mitigation and adaptation against climate change cannot be successful without engineers at the table.
By providing unbiased technical advice to decision makers and the public, motivating change through our innovations and communicating the consequences of inaction, engineers have the ability to instigate change, motivate and encourage our communities to seek a better future.
We know that engineering touches almost every aspect of modern life and is going to be critical in creating better energy solutions, cities that function more effectively and communities that are sustainable, secure, healthy, just and prosperous.
World Engineering Day is an important acknowledgement of our critical work and how every day we, as engineers, help advance society through great engineering.
Build back wiser means mending our economies and our planet at the same time. It also calls for a stronger integration of the most profound underlying environmental challenge we face — climate change — in the process of building back. As countries move toward rebuilding their economies after COVID-19, recovery plans can shape the 21st century economy in ways that are clean, green, healthy, safe and more resilient.
Action to address climate change must not be kicked down the road.
The current crisis is an opportunity for a profound, systemic shift to a more sustainable economy that works for both people and the planet. To address the climate emergency, post-pandemic recovery plans need to trigger long-term systemic shifts that will change the trajectory of CO2 levels in the atmosphere.
Without deep and rapid decarbonisation of our energy systems over the next 10 years, we will never reach the Paris Agreement goal of limiting temperature rise to 1.5-degrees.
This will be fatal to the Sustainable Development Goals and communities around the world. Science has shown us exactly how to avoid it. We must limit temperature rise to 1.5 degrees and reduce emissions to net zero well before 2050.
Engineering and all engineers are responsible for implementing the energy transition and to shape a net-zero carbon world. This mission is reflected in Engineers Australia’s updated Climate Change Position Statement. It calls on governments, investors, the private sector and the wider community to work with the engineering profession to accelerate engineering innovation for a swift transition to a sustainable economy.
The statement also reflects the consistent feedback we received that Engineers Australia should support action at pace and scale on climate change and be accessible and no more complex than necessary.
This Friday’s World Engineering Day is about engineering the future. As the voice of the profession, Engineers Australia is committed to helping lead the charge.