The future of a climate resilient Britain depends on the engineering sector’s response to the challenge. That’s the message from Environment Secretary Hilary Benn speaking at the joint Defra and Engineering the Future Conference.

Mr Benn called on the sector to lead the way in building Britain’s future infrastructure - from transport networks to nuclear power stations to withstand the changes to our climate.

Hilary Benn said:

“The floods of last month, and the collapse of bridges, show us how much a resilient infrastructure matters. Protecting ourselves against negative impacts, and also taking advantage of the benefits of a changing climate, is all part of building Britain’s future.

“The UK’s engineering sector is vital to tackling this challenge and is well-placed lead in designing and engineering climate resilient and low carbon infrastructure for global markets, as well as the UK.”

Last summer Defra published the Climate Change Projections 09, based on Met Office science. These illustrate the extent of the changes the UK might face with warmer and wetter winters, hotter and drier summers, increased risk of coastal erosion and more severe weather events such as flooding and heat waves. Already all ten of the hottest years on record globally have been since 1990, and the extreme weather experienced in recent years and most notably the flooding in Cumbria has tested the resilience of the country’s infrastructure.

Yesterdays conference brought together senior engineers from the Engineering the Future group and executives from across industry, government policy and academia, to look at the global opportunities for the UK’s engineering sector in climate change adaptation, identify the challenges to action and help to shape joint working between Government and the engineering profession.

Professor Robert Mair, Senior Vice President of the Royal Academy of Engineering said:

"Resilience in the face of climate change is a challenge all engineers must rise to. In partnership with our customers, policy makers and the users of the infrastructure we provide, engineers can provide the solutions that will protect us from the worst effects of climate change. This is essential to maintaining and developing our modern way of life, as well assharing the benefits of progress equitably across the world. The challenge has never been greater for engineering."

Notes for editors

  1. For further information on the Government’s Adapting to Climate Change Programme, visit www.defra.gov.uk/adaptation
  2. Engineering the Future is a banner under which organisations from the professional engineering community are working together to promote the contribution of engineering to the UK’s economy, and the wellbeing of society.Within the group are the Institution of Civil Engineers, Royal Academy of Engineering, Engineering Technology Board, Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Institute of Engineering and Technology, Institution of Chemical Engineers, Institute of Physics, Engineering Council UK