By Mark Hansford
In one month, world leaders will gather in Glasgow, Scotland, U.K., for the U.N. Climate Change Conference (COP26). The British Institution of Civil Engineers anticipates bold new targets and agreements to act on climate change, including faster moves toward net zero carbon in tandem with efforts to improve our collective resilience to the impacts of a global changing climate.
The U.K. government, as host, is determined to show global leadership through its own commitments. Yet, as Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) President Rachel Skinner points out in her foreword to ICE’s latest State of the Nation 2021 report, the U.K.’s current rate of progress toward net zero is too slow and efforts to build climate resilience into our existing places and infrastructure systems are far from mature.
Infrastructure is responsible for more than half of the U.K.’s carbon emissions. Civil engineers have a long-established responsibility for infrastructure. Civil engineers must, therefore, step up and seize the opportunity to use their skills and influence to bring about transformational change.
The State of the Nation report assesses the current state of the U.K. in terms of its infrastructure carbon footprint and associated trajectory. Through regional roundtables, ICE has assessed its members’ state of readiness to take climate action.
ICE has devised a headline checklist of six key actions that all civil engineers and infrastructure experts can take to significantly increase the pace of change:
- This is an emergency—treat it like one
- Bring carbon into every conversation
- Understand and influence end users
- Design and build for the “right” outcomes
- Strive for creative solutions
- Be responsible for resilience
At the heart of these six actions is a clear need for civil engineers to change their behaviors and recognize their ability to influence others to do the same, unlocking new creativity and solutions.
To download ICE’s State of the Nation 2021 report, click here.