Anticipating the challenges of climate change is now an urgent need in our economy and society. Last month, the heads of 22 of Australia’s largest companies, including BHP, Rio Tinto, Wesfarmers and Commonwealth Bank, put their names in the Climate Leaders Coalition. He noted their collective desire to reduce emissions and increase their international obligations under the Paris Agreement.
Australian politicians are increasingly on the defensive, which universities and professions cannot risk. The cockpit of the knowledge economy must remain fit for purpose in the face of global challenges.
Lately, the largest of them have gathered experience to deal with a global pandemic. Climate change is an even bigger challenge.
Universities as communities of knowledge are proud to lead discovery and understanding. Pressures for updating and reform may come from beyond academia, sometimes in response to perceived failure (think economics and CFM) or to meet the demand for new skills (the rapid expansion of business education in the past two decades).
The Readiness Report, released today by the UWA Public Policy Institute, argues that the disciplines and professionals who educate and train are already changing rapidly in response to climate change.
The report highlights the nature and extent of the reorganization in six fields: engineering, architecture, law, economics, health and oceanography (the same is true for around 20 other disciplines).
Key questions for all professions
All professions must find timely answers to some fundamental questions:
What will be the practical impacts of climate change on the feasibility, processes, sustainability and operations of your professions?
How should future members of the professions be educated, trained and accredited?
How will the underlying disciplines change?
What new fields of research and education will emerge?
How will the different disciplines develop new intersections and synergies?
Many new skills and competences will need to be taught. Consider, for example, the need to design heat-resistant public transport systems and plan water-sensitive cities.
New mechanisms are also needed to ensure the value of current experience, such as the ability of actuaries to model commercial and national risk for insurance purposes.
There will also be a need for greater use of interdisciplinary collaboration, for example in the design and construction of buildings.
How 6 disciplines are responding
Engineering is synonymous with industrial society, so it has a lot to think about in terms of reuse. Engineers will have to recalibrate their previous assumptions. As UWA environmental engineer Anas Ghadouani points out:
Consider the fact that the sectors at the top of the emissions pyramid, including transportation, electricity generation and manufacturing, contributed over 75% to emissions. These high-emission sectors are teeming with engineers and engineering firms.
For architects to be credible in this new environment, they must understand that “our modern experience of globalization is based on three phenomena with spatial and environmental consequences: mobility, dispersion and density,” says the dean of the UWA School of Design. , Kate Hislop. So:
Reducing CO emissions involves regenerative design, adaptive reuse, life cycle costing, carbon modeling, post-employment assessment, waste minimization and the adoption of low-content materials and systems of carbon incorporated.
Academic law is highly exposed and its challenges, reports David Hodgkinson of the UWA School of Law, boil down to laws and regulations that can be introduced to reduce emissions and help vulnerable people, species and ecosystems. climate change. It is a question of intergenerational justice. He concludes:
The main stake is that if we agree to reduce emissions now, people living in the future will benefit, not those living today. But today we will bear the costs of reducing those emissions.