Countdown to COP26 | Engineers can drive change, but COP26 must set targets

The annual Conference of the Parties (COP) provides an opportunity for actors in the public, private and civil sectors of society to come together and create solutions to human-induced climate change. From business leaders to politicians, engineers and more, the stakes for the action of this year’s COP26, which begins in just three weeks in Glasgow, could not be higher and representatives of the companies around the world must come together to act now, before it’s too late.

Joshua Farnsworth is a Carbon Reduction Engineer at Tunley EngineeringThe 18 months have indicated to the masses that change is needed. The coronavirus pandemic has highlighted some of the greatest sources of societal inequality, which will only be exacerbated and accentuated by climate change. Old habits must change, for returning to normal at such pressing times will keep us on the same catastrophic trajectories as we are now. So how do we convert a society so steeped in carbon emissions, into a society that embraces and derives sustainability at its core?The way we build, manage and use infrastructure has contributed significantly to daily carbon emissions. Infrastructure accounts for around 70% of the world’s carbon emissions and, to put it simply, this cannot continue. If the existing infrastructure today tells us one thing: it is that there was a previous neglect of the environmental consequences of human contributions through carbon emissions. The existence of infrastructure in cities around the world, through transport and housing, to development and urban design of how we compose cities, is in desperate need of an overhaul.

Over the past 40-50 years, carbon has embedded itself in the way infrastructure has been used in cities, from material carbon embodied in carbon emission through the use of infrastructure, the impacts of emissions from carbon got us to this crucial point in which we need to reach net zero. Climate change and its effects have been greatly exacerbated by human activity. If we continue on the path we are on, through the expansion and development of our cities on a global scale, the effects of climate change will continue to worsen.

Civil engineers can come up with practical solutions to the carbon problem, to help transform future infrastructure projects for the better. What civil engineers need is to be guided, they need collaboration with politicians, with decision-makers and actors at the political level of society, be it at the local, national or international level. The existing structures that make up our cities must be adapted, they must be reconfigured around decarbonation by adopting and adapting new technologies that can advance our cities. Engineers have the power to implement this change, but how do you best use them?

An effective global environmental policy is desperately needed to make the best use of our industries, manufacturers and subsequent infrastructure. The orientation of industries between public and private sector actors has been virtually non-existent as we move into the 21st century. Civil engineers have the tools, but they have to know how and where they are best used, and this is something that has been a failure of the government both nationally and internationally. Communication between sectors and between industries is essential, and it starts at the top through government policies and initiatives.

COP26 offers an opportunity for guided legislation that is not tainted with political jargon. Clear and concise goals through leadership are now more necessary than ever. Climate change is worsening and its effects becoming clear, and with that in mind, as we reduce our carbon impact through infrastructure, politicians and public figures must work with private sector actors and industries to address the issues already. existing.

Adapting and mitigating the effects of climate change is crucial, and much of the orchestration and implementation of these measures comes from civil engineers, supported by governments. Resilience is the key, but we need to combine this with mitigation measures. It is not an easy task, but through collaboration and communication, with clearly defined and defined goals and targets, sectors of society are empowered to make it manageable to mitigate the effects of climate change.

There is no doubt that civil engineers have a huge role to play in the fight against climate change, but they must be supported and guided by the governments of nations. Appropriate investment and government trust in the private sector must be embraced, only then will we see the full potential of civil engineers to help transform city infrastructure by achieving decarbonization.

  • Joshua Farnsworth is a Carbon Reduction Engineer at Tunley Engineering

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