Video | Business Headlines | Internet | Science | Scientific Ethics | Technology | Search


How to engineer a zero-carbon future

Most of us worry about climate change and realise urgent action is needed, but what inspires someone to take on the job of figuring out how to save the planet?

University of Canterbury (UC) mechanical engineering Professor Susan Krumdieck, a pioneer in the emerging field of Transition Engineering, has written the world’s first book on engineering the carbon downshift, including tackling the huge issues of climate change and world decline in oil supply.

“When my son was a boy, he was getting really worried about climate change. He wanted to know that sustainable energy – my research area at the time – would be the solution,” Professor Krumdieck says.

“I remember the conversation 15 years ago when I had to come clean with my son. I had to tell him that even if all the solar and wind and other sustainability work was successful, it wouldn’t change the unsustainable use of fossil fuels.

“When your child, with total faith in you, says: ‘Well Mum, you have to figure out what will work,’ then you have to challenge your assumptions.”

Her new book, Transition Engineering: Building a Sustainable Future, examines new strategies emerging in response to the mega-issues of global climate change, decline in conventional oil supply, scarcity of key industrial minerals, and local environmental constraints. The book is unique in that it does not offer solutions, but rather the methodology for discovering innovative changes in unsustainable systems.

“All of our unsustainable energy and material use is possible through successful engineering, therefore achieving transition will require evolution in engineering”, the author says.

“We can’t predict the future, but we know this century will be different from the last. More than 90% of current energy supply is fossil hydrocarbons. Massive transformational change of everything is the realistic mitigation of catastrophic climate crash.”

Transition Engineering, like all other engineering fields, has science-based fundamentals and methodologies for achieving the deliverables. In this case the deliverables are innovations in how to change a particular system to downshift carbon.

“Fifty years from now fossil fuels will not be part of the consumer lifestyle. That transition starts now, with thousands of different shift projects, every one involving re-engineering and re-developing by the Re-Generation, using much more resourcefulness than resources.”

Over the past two decades Transition Engineering has been developed through research and collaborations across a range of disciplines around the world. Professor Krumdieck says her new book teaches the Transition Engineering methodology in a way that engineers can begin applying it in their work.

“Transition Engineering is a methodology for working on complex social and economic problems, but there are usually engineered systems at the heart of the issues. Transition Engineers work with communities and organisations to re-develop for the next century,” she says.

“The only way to transition energy systems into the low-carbon systems of the future is for professional engineers in every field to do the job of Transition Engineering. Policymakers, economists and the general public have a vital role – demand a rapid transition.”

The book’s content has been taught in universities in Europe and New Zealand. It has also been used in professional development courses. Transition Engineering projects have been carried out in transportation, housing, commercial buildings, products, airlines, agriculture and energy use.

Professor Krumdieck has taught energy engineering at UC for 17 years. Her research focuses on developing engineering methods and innovative technologies that reduce fossil fuel production and consumption. She is an expert in developing new ideas for achieving decarbonisation in transportation systems and urban regeneration. Professor Krumdieck is also the co-founder and a trustee of the Global Association for Transition Engineering (GATE), she serves on the editorial board for six journals, including Energies, Energy Conservation & Management, Social Business and Biophysical Economics, and she has edited special issues of Energy Policy, Energies, and Sustainability.

© Scoop Media

Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines


Snail's Pace: Aucklanders Face Frustrating Commute Over Harbour Bridge

Journeys into Auckland's CBD took longer than usual as traffic banked up around the damaged Harbour Bridge. More>>


Statistics New Zealand: COVID-19 Sees Record 12.2 Percent Fall In New Zealand’s Economy

Gross domestic product (GDP) fell by 12.2 percent in the June 2020 quarter, the largest quarterly fall recorded since the current series began in 1987, as the COVID-19 restrictions in place through the quarter impacted economic activity, Stats NZ said ... More>>


Climate: Scientists Release ‘Blueprint’ To Save Critical Ecosystems And Stabilize The Earth’s Climate

A group of scientists and experts produced the first comprehensive global-scale analysis of terrestrial areas essential for biodiversity and climate resilience, totaling 50.4% of the Earth's land. The report was published in Science Advances ... More>>


MPI: Independent Review Launched Into Assurances For Safe Transport Of Livestock By Sea

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has launched an independent review of the assurances it receives for the safe transport of livestock by sea. MPI Director-General Ray Smith says Mike Heron QC has been appointed to lead the review, which is expected ... More>>


Computers: New Zealand PC Market Grows Nearly 40% Due To Work From Home Demand

COVID-19 had large impacts on demand for PCs as businesses prepared for lockdowns by purchasing notebooks to mobilise their workforce. In the second quarter of 2020, New Zealand's Traditional PC market experienced a 39.7% year-on-year (YoY) growth ... More>>


Ministry of Health: Public Transport Distancing Requirements Relaxed

Physical distancing requirements on public transport have been reviewed by the Ministry of Health to determine whether they are still required at Alert Level 2 (or below). The Ministry’s assessment is that mandatory face covering and individuals tracking ... More>>


NZHIA: New Zealand Hemp Industry Set To Generate $2 Billion Per Annum And Create 20,000 Jobs

A new report says a fully enabled hemp industry could generate $2 billion in income for New Zealand by 2030, while also creating thousands of new jobs. Written by industry strategist Dr Nick Marsh, the report has prompted calls from the New Zealand Hemp ... More>>


Stats NZ: One In 14 Employed People Report High Risk Of Losing Jobs

About one in 14 workers say they expect to lose their job or business by mid-2021, Stats NZ said today. A survey of employed people in the June 2020 quarter showed 7 percent felt there was a high or almost certain chance of losing their job or business ... More>>

ASB Quarterly Economic Forecast: NZ Economy Doing Better Than Expected, But Challenges Remain

August lockdown estimated to have shaved 8% off NZ’s weekly GDP, and 0.5% off annual GDP Economy now expected to shrink 5% (year-on-year) by end of 2020 Unemployment rate now expected to peak at 7.2% The latest ASB Quarterly Economic Forecast is less ... More>>


SAFE: Live Export Ship Carrying 5,800 New Zealand Cows Goes Missing In East China Sea

Livestock carrier Gulf Livestock 1 sent a distress signal at 4:45am NZT yesterday in the East China Sea. The area is affected by Typhoon Maysak. At 4pm a patrol plane spotted a lifeboat - with no people in it - and a man in lifejacket nearby. The ship ... More>>


FMA: Kiwisaver Fees Don't Match Performance

The Financial Markets Authority (FMA) today published an independent report into the passive and active investment management styles [i] used by KiwiSaver providers. The FMA commissioned MyFiduciary to test the extent that KiwiSaver providers were ... More>>