The Accord de Paris, the UN sponsored international agreement on climate change, came into force in November 2016. The accord was negotiated back in 2015 but was triggered when enough countries, accounting for enough of the world’s emissions, ratified it.
This is important. President Donald Trump’s new US administration may well withdraw but it is clear that there remains global political commitment to tackling climate change. And this is matched in our profession. If you ask any group of engineers to step back and identify the challenge for their generation, mitigating and adapting to a changing climate is invariably top of the list.
The engineering and infra-structure challenge is immense. There are some global imperatives, for example decarbonisation of electricity generation and transport. But this is also an intensely local task, for both mitigation and adaptation.
Flood risk increase
Last year’s ICE National Needs Assessment, our 30 year view of Britain’s infrastructure requirements, identified large increases in flood risk and greater exposure to high temperatures and heat waves as key drivers of future demand.
Earlier in 2016, ICE Hong Kong published a similar assessment, setting out a vision for high density, low carbon living in a city that actively mitigates the risks created by its low lying coastal location in a region vulnerable to typhoons and storm surges.
And the list goes on. There is Deadline 2020, a plan produced by the C40 cities group in partnership with consultant Arup. It explains how Toronto’s transport infrastructure will be impacted by increasingly severe winters, that Rio de Janeiro is exposed to landslides and perhaps most worryingly of all, it lays bare the vulnerability of millions of people living in Kolkata’s slums to coastal flooding.
In the face of a challenge of this scale, it is vital that engineers share their experience and expertise. No one organisation will solve these problems but all can play a part. The ICE has just launched its energy, resilience and climate change knowledge campaign. This is a multi-year programme to focus the efforts of the learned society on the climate imperative.
As a start, the ICE has curated relevant knowledge and insight and made it available via its website. Events are taking place across the UK and around the world, including a major two day conference on decarbonised energy and water resilience in London on 3 and 4 May. Over the coming years we want to play an active role by using the ICE’s international network to bring professionals together to work with industry and governments to tackle specific problems. The ICE hopes members will get involved.
You can visit the Energy, Resilience and Climate Change campaign at ice.org.uk/ercc
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