Written by IEEE | December 1, 2022 | Updated: April 21, 2023
The effects of climate change are visible across the globe. How can IEEE, and its 400,000 members, help combat it?
That was the question on the mind of 2022 IEEE President-Elect Saifur Rahman as he traveled to Sharm El-Sheikh Egypt for COP27, the United Nation’s annual climate change meeting
He’s been involved in climate change policy since 1992, when he followed the debates and discussions at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. That inspired him to establish the Center for Energy and the Global Environment at Virginia Tech, where he is currently a professor. In 2019, he helped to launch the IEEE Sustainable Power and Energy Conference in China, and he now chairs the IEEE Board of Directors’ Ad Hoc Committee to Coordinate IEEE’s Response to Climate Change (CCIRCC).
So we asked him how he viewed IEEE’s role in these global efforts. “IEEE‘s members are responsible citizens, and want to help advance technology for humanity and therefore seek to help address today’s challenges with technological solutions,” Rahman, an IEEE Life Fellow, said. “They see the effects of extreme weather, changes in weather patterns, crop losses and sea level rise all around them. It’s natural for them to want to contribute.”
How can IEEE encourage its members to research, promote and advocate for decarbonization technologies?
It starts at the local level beginning with awareness building. This is where IEEE can play a big role. IEEE has resources which can help its members answer the big questions. In addition to a large number of targeted publications, conferences and workshops focusing on climate change issues, IEEE has recently launched the IEEE Climate Change Collection, which is a repository of more than 7,000 IEEE articles addressing the causes of climate change along with strategies to mitigate and adapt to it. In addition, IEEE has just launched – coinciding with the UN Climate Change Conference COP27 – the IEEE Climate Change website, www.ieeeclimatechange.org.
What do you hope one of the outcomes of IEEE’s participation in COP27 will be?
I met different country delegations, and I participated in four events, including speaking at a side event titled “The Global Engineering View: Delivering an Equitable, Sustainable and Low Carbon Resilient World.”
The other events were hosted by the International Renewable Energy Agency’s Energy Transition Education Network; The Global Association of Universities on Climate. I also took part in a seminar on the global pathway to carbon neutrality hosted on Energy Day at COP27.
All my talks and presentations focused on current and emerging technologies relevant to climate change mitigation and adaptation.
We have over 340 IEEE Sections around the world where engineers, technologists and computer scientists can deliver technology solutions to the global community. Our hope is that IEEE’s participation in COP27 will result in global recognition of IEEE as a force for change, and as an organization that can respond to the needs from the local to national levels and help implement policies adopted during the COP27 Conference.
There are, seemingly, new technologies to combat climate change being developed nearly every day. How can IEEE contribute to the sharing of information?
Innovations come to the attention of IEEE through its conferences, workshops and publications. One of the biggest roadblocks in the field may be maintaining relevant and comprehensive information. We can eliminate this roadblock by continuously updating the IEEE Climate Change collection and promoting the availability of this information to all interested parties globally.
IEEE sees its role in climate change as one of a convener – bringing people together to discuss relevant issues. What does that mean to you, and how does that play out in real life?
As the world’s largest technical professional organization, IEEE has both the opportunity and the responsibility to assist in organizing the response of engineers, scientists, and technical professionals across the world to address the causes, mitigate the impact and adapt to climate change. In this context, IEEE has been and is reaching out to all major engineering and technology societies in the Americas, Europe, Africa and Asia to identify areas of collaboration and portfolios of solutions to address the climate change challenge. Our organization has the credibility to bring experts to the table to present diverse viewpoints and seek common solutions.
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What would be one thing you would suggest to help towards solving climate change?
IEEE welcomes volunteers and members across the globe to join in contributing their experience and insights so that together we can explore and discover solutions to address climate change. We encourage our community to be contributors and influencers for climate action through research, knowledge sharing, technology advancements, solutions development and much more.