Infrastructure, Engineering and Climate Change Adaptation – Ensuring Services in an Uncertain Future

The Royal Academy of Engineering
Posted on: 10/03/2013 - Updated on: 2/13/2019

Posted by

Rachel Gregg



This study was an activity of the Engineering the Future partnership, carried out on behalf of Defra by The Royal Academy of Engineering, the Institution of Engineering and Technology, the Institution of Civil Engineers, the Institution of Mechanical Engineers and the Institution of Chemical Engineers. The conclusions of the study will feed into the Defra led cross-Government Infrastructure and Adaptation project. The study was carried out from the perspective of the engineering profession and the engineering response to the demands of climate change adaptation.

Engineers will be central to the process of adaptation, both ensuring that current infrastructure assets are protected from the long term and acute affects of climate change, and developing new infrastructure systems fit for changing climate conditions. Investing in engineering efforts to protect infrastructure is essential both to minimise risks to infrastructure, and thereby the public and the economy, due to climate change; and to maximise opportunities for the profession and the economy in developing cost-effective and marketable solutions to adaptation needs.

This report examines vulnerabilities in different sectors of the national infrastructure to the effects of climate change and the modifications that would be needed to increase resilience. It also considers vulnerabilities that affect the infrastructure system as a whole and which arise as a result of interdependencies between different sectors. The effects of climate change on infrastructure are not limited to changes in weather, but include the impact on infrastructure of efforts toward climate change mitigation, and climate induced changes in behaviour and demographics. These must be considered alongside other developments such as population growth and changes in the economic environment.