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Insights Why Jean-Luc is addressing climate change at a professional level

As part of our #PeopleDriveResults campaign, this week we have caught up with Jean-Luc Allard, Director, Acoustics, Air, and Climate Change, based in Quebec, Canada.

Image of Jean-Luc smiling

Tell us a little about yourself and what do you do?

I manage a group, mainly in Quebec, that addresses issues in acoustics, air quality and climate change. I graduated as a mechanical engineer in 1981, but always worked in the environment division. I was hired to perform acoustics projects following noise reduction programs in the industry. As no one was doing air quality projects in the early 1980s, I registered for courses. In 1990, I had my first climate-focused role, addressing greenhouse gases (GHG) for an infrastructure project. I have always liked developing new markets and continuously learning.

Why have you chosen to become involved with addressing climate change at a professional level?

I have always been interested in learning about this global issue, but it was a new topic and few people were talking about climate change in 1990. I did several studies and started helping clients identify GHG reduction opportunities. Not only is GHG reduction essential to the planet, but there are many more advantages like reducing air pollutants and resource consumption, improving processes and energy efficiency and increasing innovation. It’s difficult not to be interested in raising awareness.

Tell us about a AtkinsRéalis project that you feel does a great job contributing to the fight against climate change and why.

We assist several clients in reducing GHG emissions. However, considering that reducing emissions was possibly not enough, we started to help clients adapt to climate change. We just finished an adaptation plan for the City of Plessisville in Quebec, and we will soon start another one with St. Bruno de Montarville. We first identify vulnerabilities within the built, social and environmental systems. Then we calculate risks for each of the systems and identify mitigation measures to reduce the vulnerabilities to an acceptable level.

Can you give us some examples of how you think people at home can help reduce their carbon footprint?

First, it depends on where they live. In Quebec, we have green electricity, so as long as you efficiently use electricity, you don’t emit GHG. If you were in a city where all electricity is generated using a coal power plant, then you have many possibilities, but energy efficiency must first be considered. Also, proper waste management is important—reduce, recover, recycle and incorporate the circular economy.

If humans cannot gain control over our impact on climate change, what do you think the world will be like in 100 years?   

I don’t think worldwide GHG emissions will be reduced enough, or quickly enough, to mitigate climate change. Therefore, we started helping clients adapt to the climate and extreme meteorological events. However, numerous efforts and events are very positive. The recent election in the USA is a positive sign worldwide, refer to the recent Joint Statement by the US EPA and Environment and Climate Change Canada on Environment and climate change earlier this year. Also, like AtkinsRéalis has done, numerous companies, municipalities, cities, etc. have committed to net zero GHG emissions. And other companies sell carbon neutral products. For the Samuel de Champlain bridge project, in fact, we used carbon offsets to deliver a carbon neutral project.

What technologies do you see in your field that you think will best help us curb climate change?

The challenge is huge, so we must implement all the solutions that contribute to reducing our GHG emissions. There are several components to the solution: renewable energies, electrification of transport, hydrogen and energy efficiency. Proactive companies and their clients will benefit from the solutions they implement. We will use this expertise as a differentiator to win more projects.