June 6, 2022
Around two-and-a-half years have now passed since the Covid-19 pandemic first started, and it has still not completely subsided. The Delta variant was replaced by the Omicron variant, followed by even more infectious subvariants such as BA.2, and as a result, the number of people infected remains high. Nonetheless, from Japan’s perspective, it is not all bad news: in addition to Covid vaccines, medications are also becoming more widely available, and moves to approve domestically-produced medications have picked up pace. As Japan seeks to recover from Covid, it is the Engineering Academy of Japan (EAJ)’s duty to embrace greater diversity in terms of values and further accelerate innovations, contributing to their societal implementation by pursuing ever-closer collaboration with experts in various fields that extend beyond the humanities and sciences.
From October to November 2021, the 26th session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP26) was held. The resulting Glasgow Climate Pact committed to efforts to phase down coal-fired power generation not subject to measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, boosting momentum toward achieving carbon neutrality worldwide. Unfortunately, however, the CO2 emissions volumes for 2021 announced by the International Energy Agency (IEA) in March 2022 amounted to 36.3 billion tons, the highest ever. This was said to be the result of rapidly increasing consumption of coal—a major emitter of CO2—as economies recover from the Covid crisis. Moreover, the recent invasion of Ukraine by the Russian government completely transformed the energy situation worldwide, driving countries to prioritize the immediate issue of securing reliable energy supplies over efforts to tackle global warming. In fact, some estimates suggest that the invasion will cause the percentage of EU power generation accounted for by coal-fired power to rise from 10 percent to 13 percent, resulting in a 4 percent increase in the EU’s CO2 emissions from power generation. In times such as these, each of us must remind ourselves that global warming is a global agenda issue affecting the destiny of humankind, and engage with it more seriously than ever before.
The world now faces no less than three crises: the Covid pandemic, global warming, and war. The recent military invasion of Ukraine has put democracy at risk and, unfortunately, global governance has also now regressed. More than ever before, the world needs opportunities to transcend national borders and properly discuss issues on the global agenda, such as the pandemic and climate change.
Before the coronavirus crisis, I thought that humankind had more or less conquered hunger, disease, and war, but it now appears that I was somewhat over-optimistic. Indeed, the world is now tormented by these three scourges, and there is no denying that humankind is facing huge challenges as a result. In such circumstances, members of the EAJ must reaffirm our fundamental philosophy of engineering the future for human security and well-being, and believe in humankind’s future, dedicating ourselves to performing the roles required of us to fulfill our obligations.