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Acting on climate change


As young people all over the world protest over political inaction on climate change, we ask how engineers can prevent our planet’s temperature rising past the point of no return. Responding to this challenge means that engineering professionals, businesses and institutions must do things differently. They must say no say no to carbon intensive development, leave fossil fuels in the ground and focus on developing the solutions that will enable the world to transition into a low carbon future.

Working with us on this episode is consultant Mott MacDonald, which is increasingly refusing to work on carbon intensive projects; is developing new technical solutions; and has embarked upon a global climate resilience initiative. These steps are enabling it to support organisations all over the world in lowering their carbon emissions and taking us closer to keeping global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees centigrade.

Like the medical profession, which developed the Declaration of Helsinki that went beyond the legislation of the day to reform practices in medical research on human beings, academics are arguing that engineers should do the same. This would mean creating a Declaration of Climate Action that compels professional engineers to ensure that their work does not contribute to climate change and upholds their professional duty to protect future generations from rising global temperatures.


Dr Rob Lawlor, lecturer in applied ethics, University of Leeds

David Viner, global practice leader for climate resilience, Mott MacDonald

Ian Allison, global head of climate resilience, Mott MacDonald

Rebekah Marsh, engineering geologist, Mott MacDonald

Mark Crouch, carbon management team leader, Mott MacDonald

Clare Wildfire, global practice leader for cities, Mott MacDonald



Mott MacDonald

– Opening opportunities with connected thinking.

Mott MacDonald is a US$2bn engineering, management and development consultancy involved in:

  • solving some of the world’s most urgent social, environmental and economic            challenges
  • helping governments and businesses plan, deliver and sustain their strategic goals
  • responding to humanitarian and natural emergencies
  • improving people’s lives

Its expertise by sector includes buildings, communications, defence, education, environment, health, industry, mining, oil and gas, power, transport, urban development, water, wastewater and more. Its skills encompass planning, studies and design, project finance, technical advisory services, project and programme management, management consultancy and beyond.

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