B.C. Engineers Recognize Professional Challenges of Climate Change

The Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of British Columbia (APEGBC) has published a position paper which asserts that the sector’s professional standards and duty to protect public safety now imply a need to consider climate change as part of engineering and geosciences practice. A Changing Climate in British Columbia: Evolving Responsibilities for APEGBC and APEGBC Registrants states that engineers and geoscientists in particular face new professional challenges in light of uncertainty surrounding the climatic future. Fulfilling the professional standards outlined in the Engineers and Geoscientists Act has become more complicated, as project planning and providing advice to decision makers now must account for potential extreme weather events or unprecedented ongoing climatic stresses which may impact long-term safety and resilience. Some engineers are already being asked to consider climate change by their employers and clients, as they were during the development of legislated flood assessments in B.C.

In recognition of the gaps in current knowledge, training, and professional codes, APEGBC states it will implement professional development opportunities, update training procedures and codes, and ensure improved access to sound climate change data along with recommendations about its appropriate use. Entirely new professional guidelines may eventually be introduced. In the position paper, APEGBC instructs its registrants to remain informed and states that engineers and geoscientists are uniquely positioned, given their technical expertise, to help navigate the process of adaptation and building resilient communities.
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LINKS
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A Changing Climate in British Columbia: Evolving responsibilities for APEGBC and APEGBC Registrants is available at: https://apeg.bc.ca/News/News-Releases/APEGBC-Releases-Climate-Change-Position-Paper
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“Engineers Leading the Way on Climate Change” Blog post at the West Coast Environmental Law website at: http://wcel.org/resources/environmental-law-alert/engineers-leading-way-climate-change
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Professional Associations have a Role to Play in Climate Change

A report published by West Coast Environmental Law starts from the position that climate change is a cross-cutting issue that affects advice and decision-making in many different professions, including architects and engineers, professional foresters, biologists, insurance professionals, accountants, and city planners. The report calls for an enhanced role for professional associations using the existing tools, such as codes of conduct and ethics, standards of practice, requirements for continuing professional development, and policy statements. In one example, the author suggests a statement of ethical responsibility to “act in the public interest (including promoting sustainability); not speak beyond one’s expertise or competence; not make misleading statements or falsify data; and act with due diligence”. The report describes exemplary climate change initiatives underway by such groups as the Canadian Institute of Planners, Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of BC (APEGBC), and Greenhouse Gas Management Institute (GHGMI).

LINKS

Professionals and Climate Change: How professional associations can get serious about global warming, written by Andrew Gage and published by West Coast Environmental Law (WCEL), a British Columbia “non-profit group of environmental law strategists and analysts dedicated to safeguarding the environment through law”. Available at:
http://wcel.org/sites/default/files/publications/Professionals%20and%20Climate%20Change_0.pdf