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Energy, Environment

Monash University at COP28: Expert commentary

Monash University 10 mins read

COP28, which will be held in Dubai from 30 November - 12 December, is expected to be the largest ever global climate conference  with an anticipated attendance of over 80,000 delegates and 140 heads of state from around the world.

Monash University will be hosting a Blue Zone pavilion, which will be the first time in history that an Australian university has hosted a pavilion in the Blue Zone. 

Monash is committed to urgent, collective action on climate change. COP28 is a critical moment in this journey and our experts will be on hand to influence policy makers and convene change makers in our shared pursuit of a more sustainable, just world for all.

A range of Monash University experts will be available to discuss climate related issues at COP28.

Read more from them in our climate change special on Monash Lens, and below.

Transport and net zero

Professor Le Hai Vu, Department Civil Engineering, Faculty of Engineering
Contact details: +61 3 9903 4840  or media@monash.edu

  • Sustainable mobility / city planning (in the face of climate changes)
  • EV uptake (considerations, infrastructure needs) in the context of transport decarbonisation

Professor Graham Currie, Department of Civil Engineering, Faculty of Engineering
Contact details: +61 3 9903 4840 or media@monash.edu 

  • How can Australia achieve its Net Zero emissions target through transport and electric vehicle uptake?

The following can be attributed to Professor Currie:

“Transport represents Australia's single biggest area of greenhouse emissions growth. Leaders will need to unite, offer guidance and set global standards so that countries like Australia that are lagging behind can address this issue. 
 
“Electric car uptake is critical to Australia achieving a 2050 Net Zero target. Yet Australia has amongst the world’s worst uptake of electric vehicles; 10.6 per cent of new car sales are electric (as at September 2023) compared to a 14 per cent global average (2022) 22.9 per cent in the United Kingdom and 87.8 per cent in Norway.  
 
“COP28 needs to give Australia a gigantic kick in the pants when it comes to electric vehicle uptake.”

Associate Professor Roger Dargaville, Department of Civil Engineering, Faculty of Engineering and Director of the Monash Energy Institute
Contact details: +61 3 9903 4840  or media@monash.edu 

  • Energy systems and transition pathways to high penetration renewables
  • Energy storage technologies (batteries, pumped hydro) and electric vehicle integration
  • Hydrogen pathways, esp use in industrial process e.g. ammonia and green steel
  • Energy transition in developing countries, e.g. Indonesia and India

Dr Stuart Walsh,  Department of Civil Engineering, Faculty of Engineering
Contact details: +61 3 9903 4840  or media@monash.edu 

  • Hydrogen
  • Green ammonia
  • Green steel
  • Green iron
  • Critical minerals 

Associate Professor Behrooz Bahrani, Department of Electrical and Computer System Engineering
Contact details: +613 9903 4840 or media@monash.edu
Read more of Dr Bahrani’s commentary on Monash Lens

  • Grid integration of renewable energy resources
  • Power system stability
  • Wind/solar farm control
  • Electric vehicles

The following comment can be attributed to Associate Professor Bahrani:

“As we gather at COP28, we have to make big decisions about our energy future. We know how to get energy from the sun and the wind, but we need to get better at putting that energy into the power grid. This is key to moving away from oil and coal. If we don't make these changes quickly, we'll keep harming our planet.

“As researchers, we're working hard to make these changes easier and faster, so that everyone can enjoy a cleaner, safer world.”

Associate Professor Selby Coxon, Director of the Mobility Design Lab, Monash Art, Design and Architecture 
Contact details: +61 3 9903 4840 or media@monash.edu
Read more of Associate Professor Coxon’s commentary at Monash News

  • Automated and driverless vehicles
  • Improving public transport
  • Implications of new energy systems on design
  • Speculative new disruptors to current transport orthodoxy

The following comment can be attributed to Associate Professor Coxon:

"Few daily routines reveal as much about the rhythm of the city, with all its pleasures and impediments, than our daily commute. We must consider this in the light of whether we need to travel at all, change the manner in which we travel and improve what we share. 

“Design is the means to which we can underwrite this transition leading to a more resilient, sustainable and decarbonised mobility."

Building and urban responses 

Associate Professor Liton Kamruzzman, Department of Civil Engineering, Faculty of Engineering
Contact details: +61 3 9903 4840  or media@monash.edu

  • Smart cities
  • Relationship between transportation and urban planning
  • Land use planning
  • Travel behaviour
  • Transport emissions modelling
  • Econometrics
  • Transport planning
  • GIS and Remote Sensing (RS)

Tony Wong, Professor of Sustainable Development, Monash Arts Design and Architecture 
Contact details: +61 3 9903 4840  or media@monash.edu

  • Integrated urban water management and water sensitive cities
  • Climate adaptation and disaster risk reduction
  • Climate resilient hybrid urban water infrastructure
  • Nature-based solutions for water
  • Urban design with biomimicry.

The following can be attributed to Professor Wong:

“Climate change impacts often manifest as water-related extreme events such as floods and droughts. So, the water sector plays an important leadership role in climate adaptation innovations.

“Cities and towns concentrate and magnify many of the key challenges captured in the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – particularly including climate impacts. We cannot ignore the interconnections and interplays between the SDGs.

“We need to reimagine our cities as water supply catchments. We can strengthen climate resilience through better land use and infrastructure planning and investments that create diverse water sources – recycled water, stormwater and rainwater – at a range of supply scales.

“We need to design cities that can provide ecosystem services – water treatment, biodiversity, habitat urban heat mitigation – for the built and adjoining natural environments. “We can do this by integrating urban landscape design with sustainable urban water management.

“Fostering sustainability and resilience in cities involves creating enabling policies, building professional capacity to innovate, and nurturing community awareness and empowerment to support innovative policies and practices.”

Climate change and food

Dr Liza Barbour, Department of Nutrition, Dietetics and Food
Contact details: +61 3 9903 4840  or media@monash.edu
Read more from Dr Barbour on Monash Lens 

  • Food and the climate: how sustainable is your diet?
  • The carbon impact of veganism: is it always best to choose a vegan option?
  • Urban food policies for a sustainable future
  • How are governments supporting sustainable food systems around the world?

The following comments can be attributed to Dr Barbour:

“As the race to protect our finite planetary resources continues, individuals are urgently searching for ways to reduce their carbon footprint.

“Vegetarianism and veganism has gained popularity amongst those living in high-income countries. However, these eating patterns will not guarantee a reduction in environmental damage. Many alternatives to animal-derived foods are ultra-processed, in particular meat alternatives. Ultra-processed foods are often over-packaged and have undergone a number of resource-intensive processes during their production.

“To eat an environmentally sustainable diet, it is recommended to avoid excessive consumption of food beyond your nutritional requirement, eat less discretionary foods, which are often nutrient-poor, energy-dense and highly processed and packaged; and eat more plant-based foods, ensuring that these foods are sourced locally, in season and from a supply chain that favours sustainable production practices.”

Climate change communication

Professor Adeline Johns-Putra, Head of the School of Arts and Social Sciences, Monash University, Malaysia; Chair, Monash Climate Change Communication Research Hub (Malaysia Node) 
Contact details: +61 3 9903 4840  or media@monash.edu

  • Climate change communication (with a focus on Malaysia)
  • Climate stories and narratives
  • Cultural history of climate and climate change 

The following quotes can be attributed to Professor Johns-Putra:

"There is a palpable urgency and anxiety to the stories we tell and the way we talk about climate change now. The question is: will the governments, institutions and corporations of the world listen?

"COP28 is an opportunity to course-correct after the Global Stocktake. Specifically, it is an opportunity for political and economic systems to keep step with the anxieties and concerns being voiced by people around the world."

Dr Lucy Richardson, Post Doctoral Research Fellow, Monash Climate Change Communication Research Hub
Contact details: +61 3 9903 4840  or media@monash.edu

  • The unique psychology of climate change and its impact on communication
  • Effective communication is critical for just and equitable climate action
  • Why Net Zero by 2050 sends the wrong message

The following comments can be attributed to Dr Richardson:

“Climate change’s many complexities and its global scale make it a unique issue. This means our psychological responses to it are also complex and unlike our responses to other global or environmental issues. Effectively communicating about climate change requires consideration of both intended and unintended consequences in people's responses to our messages and the effects these can have on global action.

“The rapid transition away from fossil fuels that is needed to address climate change requires significant social and infrastructural changes that will affect many lives and livelihoods. The people need to be part of the process in designing how these changes are implemented if we are to avoid creating new social, economic and environmental problems with our climate solutions.

“The distance many people have from where the components of our infrastructural transitions are happening means we aren’t necessarily aware of the implications of those actions on those communities. It’s not just about where energy farms are located, but also all the steps in the process: from the mines to the factories and the construction. Justice is more than just addressing climate change. It’s about informed decision making and community inclusion in the what, where and how of implementation.

“When people are faced with goals set in the future, our general tendency is to delay acting until the due date is near. This makes focusing on a 2050 net zero target problematic, as it may not prompt the transition actions that are needed right now. Interim 2030 targets are a good step at addressing this, but need to be sufficiently ambitious if they are to ensure changes in time.”

Climate finance and nature-based climate solutions

Dr Benjamin Thompson, Senior Lecturer, Human Geography, School of Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts
Contact details: +61 3 9903 4840 or media@monash.edu  

  • Nature-based climate solutions
  • Forest restoration and forest carbon credits
  • Climate finance e.g., the Loss and Damage Fund
  • Oceans and climate change

The following comments can be attributed to Dr Thompson:

“COP 27 saw the conception of the Loss and Damage Fund that will channel money to climate-vulnerable nations to help them in their adaptation efforts. But several key questions remain such as who will contribute to this fund? How equitable will the distribution of funds be? And how effectively is climate finance being spent wherever it ends up?
 
“Our oceans deserve substantial attention at COP28 given their potential to mitigate climate change through ocean-based renewable energy, low-carbon shipping, sustainable farming of ‘blue foods’ such as seaweed, and the restoration and conservation of ‘blue carbon’ ecosystems such as mangrove forests and seagrass meadows that remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
 
“COP 27 was the first time nature-based climate solutions were formally acknowledged in the final conference document, meaning COP28 presents a first opportunity to both promote and scrutinise the effectiveness of some of these solutions.”

Climate change and health

Professor Karin Leder, School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine
Contact details: +61 3 9903 4840 or media@monash.edu
Read more of Professor Leder's commentary at Monash Lens

  • Floods and health impacts: why do we need to be concerned?
  • Looking forward: which infections are we at risk of this summer?
  • Managing acute climate events
  • The importance of resilient, sustainable healthcare systems.

The following comments can be attributed to Professor Leder:

“Recent extreme weather events globally have included record-breaking heat waves, earthquakes and severe floods. Closer to home, bushfires and floods have had a major impact on communities.

"Flooding predisposes to a range of other health impacts, including an increase in infectious disease risks. Early on, there are risks of gastrointestinal illness if poorly refrigerated or contaminated foods are eaten or contaminated water is consumed. Contact with contaminated floodwaters can also lead to skin and wound infections. Disease risks associated with animal sources are also increased, such as leptospirosis. Exposure to mould inhalation can lead to respiratory symptoms.

"When significant flooding occurs, there is heightened mosquito breeding, with associated increased risks of mosquito-borne illnesses such as Ross River Virus and Barmah Forest Virus. In 2022 and 2023, cases of Japanese encephalitis (JE) were contracted in southern parts of Australia for the first time, and it is anticipated that JE cases will re-emerge over coming months as we move into summer. Bite avoidance through clothing, insect repellents, insecticides and screens, as well as limiting mosquito breeding through drainage of containers and debris removal, are important. Vaccination against JE for residents of high-risk areas is also recommended.

"Extreme weather events including fires and floods are also associated with significant psychological distress from loss of homes and livelihoods, which can lead to long-lasting mental health effects. They can also cause difficulties accessing medications, can have major impacts on staffing in hospitals and clinics, and can disrupt health and other services. The health sector represents 7 per cent of the national carbon emissions, and climate change poses a large threat to the already overcrowded and stressed healthcare system. These interrelated factors must urgently be addressed by limiting low value clinical care and improving sustainability in the healthcare sector."

Angie Bone, Associate Professor of Practice in Planetary Health, Monash Sustainable Development Institute 
Contact details: +613 9903 4840 or Angie.Bone@monash.edu

  • Climate change and human health - risks and opportunities
  • Sustainable and resilient health systems
  • Relevance of health at COP28

The following can be attributed to Associate Professor Bone:

“The climate crisis is a health crisis - climate change is already affecting the physical and mental health of millions across the world, through extreme weather events, loss of lives and livelihoods, deteriorating air, soil and water quality, and the disruption of services on which our health depends. Safeguarding people's physical and mental health should be front and centre of national responses to climate change.  

"People that have done the least to cause climate change, bear the brunt of its impacts, including serious harm to their physical and mental health. High income countries must take the greatest responsibility for reducing their own emissions and supporting lower-income countries to develop sustainable and resilient economies.
 
"The COP28 focus on health should help make visible the reasons we must increase our ambition on emissions reduction and avoid catastrophic levels of global heating. It should also raise our game on helping people and essential services, including healthcare facilities, adapt to the climate change that is already locked in.”

Associate Professor Zerina Lokmic-Tomkins, Teaching and Research Academic, School of Nursing and Midwifery
Contact details: +61 3 9903 4840 or media@monash.edu
Read more of Associate Professor Lokmic-Tomkins’ commentary at Monash Lens

  • Impacts of climate change on health
  • Carbon footprint of digital health
  • Maternal and child health
  • Health informatics

The following can be attributed to Associate Professor Tomkins:

“Climate change is a multifaceted challenge, with a disproportionate impact on marginalised communities, giving rise to profound health, environmental, social justice, and ethical concerns.

“The COP28 presidency has underscored the need to prioritise safeguarding vulnerable communities from the health ramifications of climate change. My thoughts are that in this pivotal moment, addressing the escalating health risks linked to climate change calls for more than just policy; it demands a grassroots approach, one that centres communities and the healthcare workforce in all our endeavours.

“In our pursuit of achieving Net Zero emissions in healthcare facilities, it is imperative to grasp that the path to environmentally sustainable and climate-resilient healthcare systems transcends the realm of carbon reduction. Urgently, we must channel our resources into climate-adaptive infrastructure, innovative models of climate-resilient care, often harnessing digital health technologies, and provide our healthcare professionals and students with the tools to proactively address the health impacts of climate change.

“Simultaneously, we must embark on the vital mission of educating the public about the health benefits arising from reducing their carbon footprint and adopting sustainable lifestyles. These multifaceted actions are not only pivotal in the creation of robust healthcare systems but are also the cornerstone of community adaptation to the multifaceted challenges of climate change. Effective collaboration between health and environmental agencies, combined with profound community engagement, is the linchpin in our journey to fortify climate resilience within the healthcare sector.”

Weather and environment impacts of climate change

Dr Kim Reid, Research Fellow at Monash University and ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate Extremes
Contact details: +61 3 9903 4840 or media@monash.edu
See Dr Reid’s latest commentary at Monash Lens

  • Rainfall
  • Floods
  • Atmospheric River
  • Climate Change
  • Climate Extremes

Professor Christian Jakob, Director ARC Centre of Excellence for the Weather of the 21st Century, School of Earth, Atmosphere and Environment
Contact details:  +61 3 9903 4840 or media@monash.edu

  • Climate models and their use for science and decision making
  • Earth’s Energy and Water Cycles and the role of clouds and rainfall
  • Weather in a changing climate
  • Science, tech and the next generation

Dr Susie Ho, Director of the Master of Environment and Sustainability, Associate Dean International and Graduate Studies, Faculty of Science
Contact details: +61 3 9903 4840 or media@monash.edu
Read more of Dr Ho’s commentary at Monash Lens

  • Sustainability
  • Innovation for social and environmental impact
  • Environmental science
  • Climate change and Conference of the Parties COPs
  • Innovative educational program design
  • Capacity-building education

Isabelle Zhu-Maguire, Monash Sustainable Development Institute (Sustainable Development Solutions Network AusNZPac, Youth) 
Contact details: +61 3 9903 4840 or media@monash.edu

  • Youth engagement with climate change
  • United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC,)
  • Youth perspectives of climate change 

 

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