Advancing solutions to climate change, the energy transition and disasters

2021 was a year of many milestones. Extreme weather events exacerbated by climate change have caught governments off-guard and caused devastation and loss of life around the world. July was the world’s hottest month on record, the Arctic recorded its highest ever temperature at 38 degrees Celsius, Australia experienced its wettest November, while New Zealand recorded its warmest.

Other milestones have carried a more positive tone, signalling emerging opportunities. Global clean energy generation reached another record high. For the second time, the entire United Kingdom ran for over 18 days on zero-carbon energy. In Europe, electric and hybrid vehicles outsold diesel vehicles, and on multiple times this year South Australian electricity demand was completely met by renewable sources.

It is against this backdrop that The Australian National University’s Institute for Climate, Energy and Disaster Solutions (ICEDS) was launched in January. Consolidating the former Climate Change, Energy Change and Disaster Risk Science Institutes, ICEDS was established to support and harness the depth of expertise of ANU researchers working in these fields. Facilitating collaboration across disciplines, we provide a framework under which solutions to the inter-linked challenges of climate change, the energy transition and disasters can be holistically approached, and resulting opportunities maximised.

In the last 12 months our membership has grown to over 500 researchers. Programs including the Grand Challenge – Zero-Carbon Energy for the Asia-Pacific (ZCEAP), the Resilience Initiative for Food and Agriculture (RIFA), and ANU-led research into the many aspects of bushfire prevention and mitigation are just a few examples of the solutions-focused work being facilitated by ICEDS and our members. They help create knowledge and build adaptive communities and industries, enhancing their options, capacity and networks.

Our engagement on major global matters, particularly the release of the IPCC’s Sixth Assessment climate science report and United Nation’s COP 26 Climate Summit in Glasgow, resulted in significant media and policy attention, cementing ANU as a go-to source for climate, energy and disaster expertise.

While the COVID-19 pandemic restricted some in-person offerings, our events continued to be a prominent and timely platform for discussion between experts and the broader community. 2021 topics included preparing for future heatwaves and other disasters, trade implications in a net-zero world and our signature Climate and Energy Update events.

Demand for executive education on climate and energy has increased significantly, with ICEDS running multiple professional short courses across Australia, Asia and the Pacific. As well, ANU researchers have continued to provide both formal and informal briefings to policymakers, industry and communities throughout the year on a wide range of climate, energy and disaster related matters.

For the ANU Below Zero Initiative, it was a year of capacity building and forward planning, setting the foundations for reaching the University’s below zero net emissions goal. This included drafting principles around emissions removal, developing new guidelines to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from travel and a community engagement project, all of which will be launched in 2022.

What follows are just some of the highlights of the work undertaken by ICEDS and our members throughout the year. We look forward to engaging with you on climate, energy and disaster solutions-related matters and ANU Below Zero in 2022.

Prof Mark Howden, Director & Head of Climate 
Prof Frank Jotzo, Head of Energy, and
Dr Roslyn Prinsley, Head of Disaster Solutions
ANU Institute for Climate, Energy and Disaster Solutions (ICEDS)