The Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) has welcomed government plans to prepare for the worst potential effects of climate change, such as the flooding of railway lines and power outages.
The UK government has become the first in the world to publish climate change adaptation plans. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, (IPCC) during the next 40 years temperatures could rise by as much as 4°C, with wetter winters, drier summers and more extreme weather events.
The Carbon Reduction Delivery and Adaptation Plans detail each government department’s response to the IPCC’s predictions.
Environment Secretary Hilary Benn said: “There can be no mistaking that some climate change is inevitable and we will need to adjust the way we live our lives. These plans are by no means the final word, but are a step towards the low carbon, well-adapted society that we need.”
An IMechE report last year called on the government to focus more effort on how the country should deal with the already irreversible effects of climate change. It highlighted the potentially devastating effect on the transport and energy infrastructure, and said that efforts to stop climate change from happening by reducing carbon emissions were receiving too much attention.
Tim Fox, author of the report and the IMechE’s head of energy and climate change, said: “We’re very satisfied to see that the government has taken on board a lot of the concerns we had in our adaptation report.
“The steps it is taking in terms of setting up the climate change risk assessment exercise, and working with the institutions and engineering profession to assess the required changes to our practices and the infrastructure for the next 100 years, is very welcome.”
The IMechE is involved in a project alongside other engineering institutions called “Engineering the Future”, to assist the government on issues around the longevity of infrastructure. "We hope to build a long-term view based on the fact that infrastructure can last for many centuries,” Fox said.