Critical National Infrastructure and Climate Adaptation (2022)

The IET welcomes the opportunity to comment on a call for evidence from The Joint Committee on the National Security Strategy (JCNSS) into the Critical National Infrastructure (CNI) and climate adaptation.

The response will largely consider the energy sector, however, it is important to apply systems thinking across sectors and apply learning where possible.

The sectors within the CNI are intrinsically linked and it is important to recognise that failure within one sector can have a detrimental effect on others.

The committee should therefore consider overarching regulatory oversight of the CNI to ensure a standard of resilience across different sectors. It also enables transfer of knowledge and experience of dealing with major events.

Engineers recognise that most systems lie on a spectrum with resilience at one end and brittle at the other. Those nearer the resilient end can cope with component malfunctions and external events beyond their design specification; those nearer the brittle end can fail catastrophically as a result of a minor malfunction.

Current issues with climate change, the cost of resilience and our reliance on electricity are key to our response, also looking at the tension between resilience and efficiency, electricity infrastructure, reliance on electricity, contingency planning and local resilience, extreme weather and technology

The IET recommends:

  • That the Joint Committee on the National Security Strategy should consider the system of systems that interlink the CNI. Brittle infrastructure in one can impact negatively on another during an emergency.
  • Regulatory oversight of the CNI as a whole, which would also allow learning to be transferred across sectors to become more robust in future.
  • Manufacturing should be added to the CNI sector list.
  • Measures can be taken to prepare for extreme events, such as storms impacting the energy sector