Engineers discuss tackling ‘the greatest contemporary challenge’ – Climate Change

President Michael D. Higgins spoke to the remote audience of engineers, representing the full spectrum of the engineering profession, that “Engineers have a clear role to play to ensure that everyone in the world has access to clean water, sanitation, reliable energy, and safeguarded from climate change’s adverse impacts which are already manifesting.”

He stated that climate change is “the greatest contemporary challenge facing us as inhabitants of this planet in peril,” President Higgins, said: “Nature has a fine balance, and scientific models are so sophisticated and precise now that this can be shown empirically. Earth’s ecosystem, the composition of the atmosphere, and the world’s weather – our ecological systems – operate in a stable equilibrium or homeostasis. An ostensibly small change in just one parameter within this equilibrium, such as that brought about by human-sourced emissions of greenhouse gases, results in weather changes that include increasing temperatures and changing precipitation patterns, with catastrophic impacts on sea-level rises. The cumulative effect of this is climate chaos with all its social and economic consequences.

“I suggest respectfully that the time has long passed for debate on the science, useless apportionments of blame, or idle comparisons. Action is now needed, and I ask all engineers across all branches of engineering to play their role.”

President Higgins went on to discuss that the Irish education system “needs to generate many more engineers armed with skills needed to meet the global climate-change challenge and to build a sustainable world.”

President Higgins also referenced Engineers Ireland’s, Engineering 2020, report which found that almost three-quarters of the Irish public believe engineers have an ethical obligation to tackle climate change and biodiversity loss. He quoted: “Engineers are central to sustainable development and are uniquely placed to help the world meet critical Sustainable Development Goals.”

The Conference includes speakers from the UK, USA, the Netherlands and Portugal in addition to contributions from speakers with Ireland based engineering-led expertise.They will be presenting on topics as diverse as Carbon Capture and Storage, Off Shore Wind Generation, the Future Energy Citizen and climate resilient and liveable communities, Irish based conference speakers include representatives from the Office of Public Works, ESB, Ervia, Irish Water, Dingle Creativity and Innovation Hub and academics from University College Cork/SFI MaREI Centre and University College Dublin.

Caroline Spillane, Director General of Engineers Ireland said: “Engineers have a key role to play in the transition to a sustainable, carbon-free society; Sustainable Development Goal 9 for example, calls for the building of resilient infrastructure, promotion of inclusive and sustainable industrialisation and fostering innovation. Our Conference aims to mobilise and educate engineers across all sectors to be drivers of climate action in their own business, network and communities.”

With the Government’s Budget 2021 announcement , Engineers Ireland published its report ‘The State of Ireland 2020 – Engineering a green and digital recovery’.

The report advocates that Ireland’s future will be green and digital, driven by investments in infrastructure, technology and education. Informed by a dedicated advisory group of engineers and other professionals, the report outlines a set of recommendations that will help the Irish economy to recover by tackling the challenges and embracing the opportunities arising from climate change, digitalisation and Brexit.

Source : Engineers Ireland Ltd