Melbourne Climate Futures initiative to lead in building a resilient future

Aerial view of a beach
The initiative will build on decades of research across areas such as climate change impacts in the Pacific, energy futures, bushfire resilience, and sustainable cities.

A unique University of Melbourne initiative showcasing the University’s depth and breadth of expertise and leadership in climate research will be launched next week.

Led by Professor Jacqueline Peel, Melbourne Climate Futures will harness the University’s diverse institutional expertise towards the goal of reaching net zero emissions and maintaining a safe operating climate for the planet. The initiative also aims to assist transitioning social and economic systems in an equitable and sustainable way that ensures our climate future.

Melbourne Climate Futures will build on decades of research across areas such as climate change impacts in the Pacific, energy futures, bushfire resilience, and sustainable cities, as well as innovative climate policy and legal approaches. It brings researchers from different academic backgrounds together to develop practical solutions to the challenges ahead.

The multi-disciplinary initiative will be launched with an online event on 23 March, with four online panel discussions featuring prominent thinkers on climate change and its impacts, including Professor Ross Garnaut, Professor Lisa Gibbs, Professor Robyn Eckersley, Professor Pierluigi Mancarella and Associate Professor Malte Meinhausen.

The event also features contributions from some emerging leaders on climate research at the University of Melbourne, including water rights researcher Dr Erin O’Donnell and science communicator Dr Linden Ashcroft.

Professor Jacqueline Peel, Director of Melbourne Climate Futures, said that decisive and collaborative action needs to be taken now by governments, business, non-governmental organisations and the global academic community in order to avoid the worst effects of climate change and to plan for a resilient future.

“As we emerge from the COVID crisis and with international momentum building for greater action in the lead up to the UN Climate Conference in Glasgow at the end of the year, 2021 is the year of climate ambition,” Professor Peel said.

University of Melbourne Vice-Chancellor Professor Duncan Maskell said the University’s multi-disciplinary expertise means it is well placed to lead the global challenge of overcoming climate change.

“Melbourne Climate Futures is aligned with our Advancing Melbourne 2030 strategy, where we want to create centres of excellence which are leaders in reach, ambition and impact," Professor Maskell said.

"This initiative will have an immediate impact on combatting climate change in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond.”

University of Melbourne Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Mark Hargreaves said the all-day symposium will launch Melbourne Climate Futures as a new leader in the climate space.

“Our researchers have a critical role to play in responding to future challenges with independent, evidence-based discussion that translates their work into changes in policy and practice. But we cannot do this alone. In 2021, Melbourne Climate Futures will provide a call to action for academics, industry, students and our wider communities to work collectively for greater action on climate change,” Professor Hargreaves said.

The panel discussions on 23 March will cover topics including building resilient communities, community education on climate change, natural resources and global security, and what COVID-19 has meant for climate action. One panel will focus on careers and pathways and all sessions are open to the public.

More seminars and events are planned for later in 2021, and representatives from Melbourne Climate Futures plan to attend the COP26 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow in November to contribute to the global discussion on climate.

Find out more about Melbourne Climate Futures.


Tuesday 23 March

Panel 1: 2021 – Driving the Change
Time: 9.30am – 10.30am
Panellists: Professor Ross Garnaut AO, Professor Robyn Eckersley, Professor Jon Barnett, Dr Kate Dooley, Dr Cathy Oke

Panel 2: Building Resilience
Time: 11am – 12.30pm
Panellists: Professor Lisa Gibbs, Professor Todd Lane, Professor Marcia McKenzie, Associate Professor Malte Meinshausen

Panel 3: Your Climate Future, Your Journey: Careers and Pathways
Time: 1pm – 2pm
Panellists: Sarah Barker, Associate Professor Kathryn Bowen, Dr Linden Ashcroft, Dr Gary Veale, and Zebedee Nicholls

Panel 4: Effective Solutions
Time: 2.30pm – 4pm
Panellists: Professor Pierluigi Mancarella, Associate Professor Ben Neville, Dr Natalie Doran–Browne, Dr Claire Farrell, Dr Avril Horne