Increasingly, Canadians look to professionals – individuals with special expertise
and training, such as biologists, engineers, planners and foresters – to make decisions
about a wide range of issues. Climate change is a cross-cutting issue that affects
advice and decision-making in many different professions to an increasing degree.
From architects and engineers advising in the construction of a factory that will produce
greenhouse gases, to professional foresters or biologists advising on the longterm
survival of a forest ecosystem type, professionals are advising clients on climate
change and its implications.
However, despite the work being done by professionals on the ground in terms of responding
to climate change, there has been little discussion of the professional obligations
related to this work. Professional associations, often created by government,
govern the activities of their members through codes of conduct and ethics,
standards of practice, requirements for continuing professional development, policy
statements, and other guidelines. What do these rules say about climate change?
Given the important role of professionals in helping individuals and society at large
respond to climate change, and to prepare for its impacts, professional associations
should be very explicit about how their members are expected to act when dealing
with climate change.