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Policy Statement 360 - Impact of Climate Change

ASCE Policy Statement                                                                                                           360




Approved by the Energy, Environment, and Water Policy Committee on January 24, 2012
Approved by the Public Policy Committee on March 20, 2012
Adopted by the Board of Direction on July 12, 2012




The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) supports government policies that encourage anticipation of and preparation for possible impacts of climate change on the built environment.  


Climate change could pose a potentially serious impact on world‑wide water resources, energy production and use, agriculture, forestry, coastal development and resources, flood control and public infrastructure.    Examples include: 

  • Alterations to the surface and aquifer hydrologic patterns for multi-purpose water resource projects, of particular concern to civil engineers working in the power-generation industry, flood control, and water supply utilities where reservoir storage capacity may need to be increased. 
  • Climate extremes such as floods and droughts and other significant variations in hydrologic patterns that may necessitate changes or additions to flood control and public infrastructure to provide adequate public safety and performance.
  • Changes in frequency and strength of tropical storms that will require changes in coastal protection systems.
  • Changes in ocean levels that will require adaptation of coastal infrastructure, including ports.
  • Changes in permafrost conditions that require retrofitting existing foundations and alterations to foundation design.

Such impacts could require modified agricultural practices and measures to deal with rising sea levels, water supply and quality, threats to critical infrastructure facilities and the potential for the outbreak of disease.  


Civil engineers are responsible for design and maintenance of infrastructure projects that facilitate economic development and protect human health, welfare and the environment.   Climate change may result in significant impacts to this infrastructure.  Civil engineers and government policy makers must work together to anticipate and plan for these impacts.  ASCE, its members, leaders, and resources are ready to develop and implement prudent policies as part of their mission to serve the public good.


ASCE Policy Statement 360 
 First Approved in 1990