Infrastructure and climate change

8 February 2011
IET Communications team
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The IET and other institutions involved in the Engineering the Future (EtF) alliance have called for a radical shake up of the way national infrastructure is planned, developed and protected in a new report.

“Infrastructure, Engineering and Climate Change Adaptation - ensuring services in an uncertain future” was presented to the UK’s Chief Scientific Advisor, Professor John Beddington, today at IET London: Savoy Place.

The report calls for a more joined up process of decision making in government and a new approach to sharing information in the commercial sector.

The authors of the report say that without such approaches, the impacts of climate change could have severely detrimental effects on UK society and the economy by crippling vital services such as electricity, roads and broadband.

The report looks at vulnerabilities in energy, transport, communications and water systems. It examines “cascade failures”, in which failure in one service has a domino effect on others, and identifies ways to prevent and prepare for such events.

Speaking on behalf of EtF, Royal Academy of Engineering President Lord Browne of Madingley said: “Climate change is a genuine risk. While efforts must continue towards mitigating its effects, we need to think very carefully about how we adapt to the changing climatic conditions that are anticipated over the coming century. In the long term protecting our critical national infrastructure is ultimately about protecting the UK economy and its future growth.”

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) Minister Lord Henley said: “Protecting and adapting infrastructure is crucial to our way of life. Taking measures now in the energy, water, transport and communications sectors will not only save money, but also save lives. Engineering is one of the best chances we have of adapting to rising sea levels, flooding and hotter temperatures. This report will inform Defra’s Adapting National Infrastructure programme which will set out the Government’s vision for adapting UK infrastructure this spring.”

“Infrastructure, Engineering and Climate Change Adaptation - ensuring services in an uncertain future” was written for Defra and prepared from the perspective of the engineering profession with particular input from the IET, the Institution of Civil Engineers, the Institution of Chemical Engineers, the Institution of Mechanical Engineers and the Royal Academy of Engineering.