Developing technology to address the causes of climate change, mitigate its impact, and adapt to the crisis is one of IEEE’s top priorities. To assist with that effort, the IEEE Young Professionals group this year launched its Climate and Sustainability Task Force.
The YP group is a global network of IEEE members who graduated with their first professional degree within the past 15 years. It holds networking events, provides educational resources, and publishes career-related articles on its blog.
“The group’s goal is to engage as many young professionals as possible in the conversation about how to get involved in the climate and sustainability sectors,” says Sajith Wijesuriya, CSTF chair. The IEEE member is a postdoctoral researcher at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colo.
The CSTF hosts panel sessions and webinars where experts discuss how technology can lessen the impact of climate change. The task force collaborates on organizing virtual and in-person events with IEEE groups including Women in Engineering and external organizations such as the International Renewable Energy Agency. IRENA, a global intergovernmental group, helps countries transition to renewable energy sources.
The task force also participates in policymaking efforts with the United Nations and other agencies.
“CSTF wants to support young engineers who are really passionate about developing climate and sustainability technology and being a part of the solution,” Wijesuriya says.
Partnering with IRENA, the U.N., and other agencies
Earlier this year, the task force collaborated with IRENA on several events. One webinar, for example, brought together representatives from the ETH Zurich university, the Clean Energy Ministerial forum, and Student Energy. The Clean Energy Ministerial is a partnership of 29 countries that are working together to accelerate the deployment of clean energy technologies. Student Energy empowers young people to participate in the transition to sustainable power sources through education and events.
The representatives presented technological solutions related to off-grid energy they are developing and discussed how government policies could impact the technologies’ implementation.
CSTF members in May presented their recommendations to a gathering of experts at the United Nations on how to meet the agency’s Sustainable Development Goal 7, which calls for affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy for all by 2030.
“Participating in this allowed the young professionals to have their voices heard by government representatives and gave CSTF members the opportunity to take part in policy design,” Wijesuriya says.
On 12 September, CSTF and IRENA presented a Youth Day event. It took place in Bonn, Germany, during IRENA’s Innovation Week, which brings together industry representatives, academics, and policymakers to discuss new ideas that could support and accelerate the global transition to renewables. During a YP panel session on Youth Day, young engineers highlighted technology they’ve developed.
“CSTF wants to support young engineers who are really passionate about developing climate and sustainability technology and being a part of the solution.”
The task force is also a member of the International Energy Agency’s Global Commission on People-Centered Clean Energy Transitions. Commission organizations help government officials create inclusive energy strategies that focus on equality, social and economic development, and worker protection.
CSTF held a webinar in April that focused on engaging young professionals in climate change and sustainability. At the event, IEA representatives explained how participating in the energy sector could benefit young engineers, and they talked about available opportunities.
The task force is scheduled to host a panel session at COP28 on 6 December in Dubai. Another panel is scheduled for April at the IRENA Assembly in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. Government leaders, stakeholders, and policymakers are expected to gather at the April assembly.
Working with IEEE’s societies and groups
In addition to partnering with external organizations, CSTF works with IEEE Women in Engineering, the IEEE Power & Energy Society (IEEE PES), and the IEEE Vehicular Technology Society to inspire members to participate in climate efforts.
CSTF cohosts webinars with IEEE WIE that focus on promoting diversity and inclusion in the climate and sustainability sectors.
The task force is working with IEEE PES to help support Puerto Rico’s transition to renewable energy by 2050. The U.S. territory pledged in 2019 to complete the shift; Hurricane Maria had severely damaged its infrastructure in 2017.
IEEE PES is hosting its Conference on Innovative Smart Grid Technologies, Latin America in San Juan from 6 to 9 November. The conference’s theme is Disaster Recovery and Network Transformation in Times of Climate Change. CSTF plans to hold a panel session there on energy transitioning and how to build green infrastructure.
The YP group and the IEEE Vehicular Technology Society held a webinar this year that discussed IEEE’s role in addressing the climate crisis. Participants learned how young engineers can get involved in programs including Planet Positive 2030 and the IEEE Climate Change Technical Community.
Join the Climate and Sustainability Taskforce
“Being a member of the task force allows young engineers to gain leadership skills,” Wijesuriya says. “They can also participate in developing technological solutions to address climate change and contribute to policymaking.”
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