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Standing on the shoulders of giants in a rising sea

Standing on the shoulders of giants in a rising sea

This year, marks 200 years since the founding of the Institution of Civil Engineers.

Now, I haven’t been involved in environmental protection for quite as long as 200 years – but for as long as I have, successive UK Governments have been asked to set out their long term ambitions for the environment.

In January, the Government did just that, and launched the 25 Year Environment Plan.

For me, a crucial passage says:

“We will take all possible action to mitigate climate change, while adapting to reduce its impact. We will do this by… Making sure that all policies, programmes and investment decisions take into account the possible extent of climate change this century.”

-Two weeks ago, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said limiting global warming to 1.5ºC would bring benefits, but failure would be disastrous.

That disaster was summarised last week, at the launch of the Global Commission on Adaptation, as “hotter days, fiercer fires, bigger storms, rising and more acidic seas, shifting crop patterns, and the spread of tropical diseases into uplands and formerly temperate zones… among other threats.”

- I know you already know that.

Looking at the agenda for the Global Engineering Congress, I’ve seen sessions covering just a small selection of the challenges accelerated by climate change.

I’ve seen seminars such as: • “The Case for non-sewage sanitation” • “An introduction to resilience in an urban context” • And, “Sustainable structural design: energy efficiency vs structural efficiency”

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