From rising floods to massive wildfires, the climate crisis isn’t some far-future problem. Evidence is mounting that it’s starting to take its toll now. But what to do about it?
As the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) begins this week, ASCE has issued a COP26 communique, outlining actions and policies leaders should support to address climate change and encourage resilient and sustainable infrastructure.
“The imperative to act now to mitigate climate change is becoming more plain by the day,” said ASCE 2022 President Dennis Truax. “We as engineers play as critical a role as there is in reducing carbon emissions from our infrastructure. With our COP26 communique, ASCE joins the chorus calling for action now to work toward achievable targets.”
Known as COP26 for the 26th conference gathering of the parties of nations that signed an agreement in 1992, this year’s conference is the first time in five years that parties are expected to commit to enhanced goals to fight “dangerous human interference with the climate system” and stabilize levels of greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere.
ASCE’s Committee on Sustainability prepared the communique, aligning it with the Society’s policy statement 360 on climate change. The ASCE Board of Direction voted to approve the communique during its quarterly meeting in October.
The communique calls for “developing a new paradigm for engineering practice in a world in which climate is changing but the rate and extent of change and subsequent impacts cannot be projected with a high degree of certainty.”
The statement also urges “revisions to engineering design standards, codes, regulations, and associated laws that strengthen the sustainability and resiliency of infrastructure at high risk of being affected by climate change.”
Read the complete ASCE COP26 communique.
In related news, ASCE has forged a new partnership with NOAA and the University of Maryland to advance climate-smart construction. To learn more about the partnership, members can attend a virtual panel discussion at COP26, "Building Beter Together: Partnerships to Advance Climate Resilience," moderated by ASCE Distinguished Member Bilal Ayyub and featuring ASCE leaders K.N. Gunalan and Mari Tye, 1 p.m. EST, Tuesday, Nov. 9.
The International Coalition for Sustainable Infrastructure also hosted a roundtable discussion live from COP26, Nov. 3 – “What is the engineering community’s role in bridging the gaps on climate, sustainability, and resilience for infrastructure?” – featuring ASCE leaders.