£5 million climate fund to focus on infrastructure
By World Infrastructure Journal-
The creation of a £5 million fund that will look to support research into preparing the UK’s infrastructure for climate change is, of course, good news. But resilience is only half of what needs to be worried about when it comes to climate change. Mitigating its effects is just as, if not more, important – and policy and spending should reflect that.
This week, the UK government announced the creation of a £5 million research fund. Entitled “climate services for a net zero resilient world,” the four-year research program will look into improving the UK’s infrastructural resilience to climate change. Led by a consortium organised by University College London and the UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, one of the fund’s main ambitions will be to deal with the growing frequency of heatwaves and floods – both of which have already wreaked havoc this summer.
Aside from preparing national infrastructure, particularly power stations and electricity networks from extreme weather, the programme will look to prepare local authorities to support their communities as they are impacted by climate change. As such, the fund will contribute towards the education of local authorities on low cost/low carbon measures they can take to deal with effects. It will also look to give information on how to cope with extreme temperatures to households themselves.
The programme is also cognisant of the global nature of climate change, and accordingly will look to provide models that show how the UK can reduce global emissions. This builds on the ongoing work that the UK has been doing with other governments, and signals that globally building strategies to build climate change resilience will remain a priority.
The announcement, however, does not appear to be accompanied by any significant support for climate change mitigation. In the words of Constructionarium chair Keith Clarke, “we can’t just work on measures that help deal with the impact of climate change without addressing the rising Co2 levels. ” While the UK government is currently undertaking efforts to reduce emissions, there is a real danger in divorcing resilience form mitigation. “If you divorce the resilience and mitigation measures,” Clarke has stated, “you are compounding the issues that will affect those who cannot afford to build resilience. Those in poorer countries may not be able to cannot afford a more expensive air conditioner for the extreme heat or live away from a river which floods will still be impacted. ”
It is also worth remembering that the effectiveness of resilience strategies is largely contingent on the success of mitigation strategies. Decoupling the two places the UK in a position where a lack of investment mitigation strategies could potentially undo the investment made into resilience strategies. As such, it is essential that “the brightest and best climate scientists, universities and research institutions from across the country” not only think about how to protect ourselves from climate change, but how to minimise how much we have to protect ourselves.