As the inaugural Director of Melbourne Climate Futures, Professor Jackie Peel is committed to fostering collaborative and creative research that will develop real world solutions for a safer, sustainable climate future.
Read more from our interview with Jackie Peel below.
What is Melbourne Climate Futures?
Launched in 2021, Melbourne Climate Futures brings researchers from different academic backgrounds together to develop practical outcomes for the challenges ahead. We are also working hard to empower the next generation of researchers and students to strive for a sustainable climate future, and work alongside the University of Melbourne to ensure the institution is a world leader in decarbonisation.
Why is the University of Melbourne taking climate action?
Universities are a critical place to debate, explore, innovate and gather evidence that helps governments, industries and world leaders tackle the biggest global challenges.
There are many research disciplines devoted to tackling issues on climate, from bushfire resilience to environmental politics on the global stage. The University of Melbourne – in particular – is a comprehensive research institution, which means we have decades of evidence and expertise from across a diverse range of areas. Melbourne Climate Futures brings this together, so our academics can work collaboratively (and creatively) to develop practical outcomes and make a meaningful contribution to ensuring a sustainable climate future.
How is the University of Melbourne taking climate action?
We’re working to harness our research strengths across a range of disciplines, so we can contribute to safe and sustainable climate futures. We are particularly looking to work with policymakers and industry to understand how research can be translated into practical solutions.
At the same time, we’re educating and empowering the next generation of industry, community and research leaders who will drive options for a better climate future. And, of course, the University is itself a large institution, so one area of work is making sure that we are a leader in sustainability and decarbonisation practices to help translate that knowledge across the tertiary sector.
Is there a project Melbourne Climate Futures is currently delivering that you are excited about?
Climate change has always been the focus of my work but it’s such a big challenge it can be hard to see how one researcher can make a difference. What really excites me about this new initiative is the chance to harness the power of many minds, enormous enthusiasm and great science and research. It’s like going from being a solo violinist to finding yourself conducting a large orchestra in a huge auditorium!
As someone with an interdisciplinary science/law background, I find it really inspiring to work with colleagues and students from a wide range of disciplines, and communities who contribute different understandings and perspectives on climate problems. I particularly include our vibrant arts community at Melbourne, Indigenous communities and First Nations peoples and our Pacific Island neighbours. And ultimately, having a diversity of inputs and perspectives is key to dealing with a complex challenge like climate change.
How is Melbourne Climate Futures going to support the next generation of climate leaders?
Young people are going to be living with and working on climate issues and making a real impact in delivering better climate futures. As part of a teaching and learning institution, giving our students the knowledge, skills and connections to make a difference on climate is a key area of focus, particularly our projects on sustainability in the curriculum and fostering student leadership. I imagine a future where every graduate from the University of Melbourne has done some aspect of their study with Melbourne Climate Futures and is an advocate for safer climate outcomes!