Engineers should not only be studying the climate, they also have a duty to work with sociologists in identifying ways to implement their recommendations, argues Maarten Hajer.
A competition between good news and bad tidings – that’s how you could describe the news about the environment and climate. On the one hand, there is the growth of solar and wind energy capacity and the fact that we will be building wind farms in the North Sea without public subsidies. On the other hand, we are seeing one heat record broken after another, the Antarctic ice is melting and calculations show that the emission cuts promised in the Paris climate agreement will not be enough to remain within the two-degree goal.
Sustainability is one of our greatest challenges, but in our efforts to tackle it, we are relying on our old toolbox. A group led by Utrecht-based climate scientist Detlef van Vuuren recently published a model study: in order to achieve the two-degree global-warming goal, we could look to 'lifestyle change' to provide a solution. Or, to make it more concrete, a person who is not in favour of carbon capture and storage (CCS) could decide to refrain from eating steak in the future.