Australian Tunnelling Society and Climate Change

The ATS holds a strong position on climate change and urges urgent action to reduce its current and future harmful effects on the environment.

The science of climate change is unequivocal and the evidence (bushfires, flooding, cyclones and droughts) is manifesting itself at a faster and faster rate as society seems to carry on oblivious to the enormity of the consequences. Today it is a clear and present threat to civilisation, a threat that should have been addressed 40 years ago and is now front and centre for us, our grown up children and their children to do the heavy lifting in solving.

Scientists have determined that we can’t let the planet warm greater than 1.5oC from pre-industrial levels without experiencing significant disruption from extreme weather events leading to harvest failure, flooding and drought causing forced migration and the conflict that will inevitably bring, yet  today we are already at 1.0oC warming headed for 3.0oC due to our inaction. A figure of 3.0oC, that if reached will be catastrophic for the planet.

The fact is that if we are going to have any chance of keeping the rising temperature to a maximum of 1.5˚C by 2030, in just 9 years, we not only have to be significantly reducing carbon emissions now, (think coal fired power stations, combustion engines, freight shipping, airplanes) but we must also be taking emissions negative (that is taking Co2 out of the atmosphere) to meet the deadline.

Supporting Engineers Australia’s Climate Change Position Statement

The ATS is a Technical Society of Engineers Australia. In June 2019 Engineers Australia released a draft Climate Change Position Statement, to update the present position statement which was published in 2014.

The Draft Position Statement’s preamble states:

“The science is compelling. We need to get on with policy and technical solutions. The best available evidence shows that greenhouse gas emissions from human activities is the main cause of Earth’s climate change over the past century. Dealing with the climate change emergency requires action on two key areas that engineers, society and governments must address together: mitigation and adaptation.”

Former ATS president Ed Taylor said the Society supported the preamble and urged all engineers to consider how they can reduce waste in their work.

“We are pleased to see the draft position statement published and we commit to support its content. The climate crisis is the critical challenge of our times that engineers of all disciplines must address,” he said.

“Construction including tunnelling plays a huge part in our energy and resource consumption together with environmental depletion and waste contributing to significant greenhouse gas (CO2) emissions. We can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, reduce waste and lessen environmental impacts through the decisions we make on a daily basis as engineers.

“The immediate future is to work with all stakeholders on tunnelling projects together so that we can develop, design and construct projects in a more sustainable and environmental way and I urge all our members to play a part in achieving these goals.”