The past six years, 2015–2020, are likely to be the six warmest on record. Climate change puts the achievement of many SDGs at risk. In order to limit warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels as called for in the Paris Agreement, global efforts would need to reach net zero CO2 emissions globally around 2050.
– United Nations

In collaboration with industry and community, we investigate key aspects of climate change and renewable technologies, as well as the policy and practice of adequate responses to these challenges.

The Sustainable Futures Innovation Hub in Werribee focuses on responsible consumption and production in key industry sectors, with the objectives of reducing waste and progressing the circular economy.

Meanwhile, our campuses and facilities place climate-change mitigation at the forefront of our building design and energy and water-use practices.

 

13 Climate action (eye with planet as iris icon)

Research projects & engagement 2020-21

The Centre of Policy Studies undertook a number of modelling projects to predict the impact of climate change on agriculture and industries in Australia and internationally.

Zero net Emissions by 2050 – what it means for Australian regions, industries and jobs is a project to model the changes needed to the structure of the Australian economy to achieve zero emissions. The research by Philip Adams, Christopher King will provide an update to the 2014 UN-sponsored 2050 Deep Decarbonisation Pathways Project report, in light of changes to the energy landscape.

John Madden was a co-editor of a book published in 2020, New Frontiers in Regional Science: Asian Perspectives, Environmental Economics and Computable General Equilibrium Analysis (CGE), which involved researchers from CoPS, Asia and North and South America using CGE models to examine the economic costs, effective responses and risk management for environmental impact scenarios. CoPS researchers collaborated on chapters on the impact of climate change and epidemics on developing nations. In response to the call by the National Science and Technology Advisors from a dozen countries for publishers to make their COVID-19 and coronavirus- related publications and data immediately accessible, the chapters were provided to PubMed Central (PMC) and other public repositories to support health emergency response efforts. The selection of models that will accurately predict the likely future climate for a specific geographical location is a crucial step to assess impacts of climate change on different sectors.

In Representative general circulation models selection and downscaling of climate data for the transboundary Koshi river basin in China and Nepal VU researchers Santosh Kaini, Ted Gardner and Ashok K. Sharma teamed up with Nepal researchers Santosh Nepal and Saurav Pradhananga to develop and evaluate models for short-term to long-range forecasting of climate change impacts for specific regions.

The Pacific Ocean Heat Engine by Roger Jones and James Rickets provides a greater understanding of the complex relationship between the absorption and later release of heat into the atmosphere by the ‘heat engine’ spanning the tropical Pacific Ocean triggering surface temperature changes in Europe. This model will help anticipate how greenhouse gas which forces rises in the temperature of the Pacific will transfer to the northern hemisphere.

Building energy use is estimated to contribute 40% of the global energy demand and to currently produce one-third of global green house gas emissions with the potential to double by 2030. Current methods for using computer simulations to optimise building energy use for design or retrofitting require a high number of calculations. In Building energy optimization using surrogate model and active sampling, Keivan Bamdad joined with Michael Cholette and John Bell from Queensland University of Technology to develop a method to calculate an optimal solution with a lower computational cost.

The ISILC team of Malindu Sansanayake, Yanni Bouras, Robert Haigh and Zora Vrcelj conducted a comprehensive review of Current Sustainable Trends of Using Waste Materials in Concrete in preparation for an international project to develop a new concrete made with recycled materials. The new concrete is intended to replace the conventional Portland Cement concrete which contributes significantly to global CO2 emissions, second only to fossil fuels.

The Green-Living Lab rooftop garden of native plants and wetland area was installed at Footscray Park Campus, for research, teaching and community education. The Green- Living Lab will be used for research and teaching on the value of green infrastructure for building thermal properties, to counter the urban heat island effect, for the quality of water run-off capture and to boost biodiversity across university sites.