Sustainability and action to address climate change in terms of both mitigation and adaptation continues to be one of the biggest issues facing the world, and engineers have an important role. It starts with a commitment to sustainability in the Engineers Australia Code of Ethics, and extends to the expertise of engineers to develop, guide and implement initiatives to address climate change.
November has seen two significant developments regarding action on climate change.
In the political realm the Climate Change (National Framework for Adaptation and Mitigation) Bill 2020 was presented to the Commonwealth parliament on 9 November. It was introduced by independent MP for Warringah, Ms Zali Steggall OAM, MP who provides more information about this initiative on her personal website.
The Bill sets out a framework of national climate change risk assessments, national plans for adaptation, an emissions reduction target and emissions budgets. The Bill would also establish an independent Climate Change Commission to advise the Government on these, and to monitor and report on progress.
The House of Representatives Standing Committee on the Environment and Energy is conducting an inquiry into the Bill. After the Committee issues its report with findings and recommendations, it is expected that the Bill will be debated by Parliament, though its eventual passage—with or without amendments—is not certain. A copy of the Bill and its Explanatory Memoranda is available online.
Also last week, the CSIRO released its biannual State of the Climate report. “Continued warming of Australia's climate, an increase in extreme fire weather and length of the fire season, declining rainfall in the southeast and southwest of the continent, and rising sea levels” are some of the trends explored in the report.
For example, the warming trend outlined in previous State of the Climate reports is continuing; Australia's climate has warmed on average by 1.44 (± 0.24) degrees since 1910, leading to an increase in the frequency of extreme heat events.