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Big debate: can capitalism deliver climate action?

Event organised by ICE

13 September 2023
18:30 - 21:30 BST (GMT+1)
Institution of Civil Engineers
One Great George Street
London, SW1P 3AA
United Kingdom

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Within the civil engineering profession, climate change and its impacts on people, places and planet is one of the most pressing issues of our time. The scientific consensus has demonstrated how human activity, primarily driven by the burning of fossil fuels, has caused global warming, leading to unprecedented and potentially catastrophic changes to our environment.

As the movement for climate action continues to grow, with calls for urgent and ambitious action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions one key question is whether capitalism, the dominant economic system in the world, can effectively tackle climate change and deliver the UK’s climate agenda sustainably, efficiently, and equitably.

This Big Debate will address the motion “Can capitalism deliver climate action?”. There will be two groups, each with two panellists. The topics will span public and private funding mechanisms used to deliver infrastructure projects, integrating sustainability within strategic business cases and how economic models assess the value of infrastructure outcomes.

We look forward to hosting you at One Great George Street for this lively and informative debate, with the hope that it will improve our thinking on this critical issue and contribute to our collective understanding of the industry path forward towards a sustainable future.


18:30 – 18:45

Arrivals and networking [Council room]

18:45 – 19:00

Event commences, debate and speaker introduction [Godfrey Mitchell lecture theatre/online]

19:00 – 19:30

Round 1: Main Debate [Godfrey Mitchell lecture theatre/online]

19:30 – 19:50

Round 2: Questions from opposing teams [Godfrey Mitchell lecture theatre/online]

19:50 – 20:10

Round 3: Questions from the audience [Godfrey Mitchell lecture theatre/online]

20:10 – 20:30

Round 4: Closing statements [Godfrey Mitchell lecture theatre/online]

20:30 – 21:30

Event close and networking [Council room]


Prof. Jim Hall

Prof. Jim Hall

University of Oxford

professor of climate & environmental risk

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Prof. Jim Hall

Professor Jim Hall is a professor of climate and environmental risks at the University of Oxford.

He’s also the director of research in the School of Geography and the Environment and director of the university’s Environmental Change Institute.

Before joining the University of Oxford, he held academic positions at Newcastle University and the University of Bristol.

Professor Hall is a member of the ICE Trustee Board and vice president of the institution, carbon and climate.

Subject to an interim annual election by the ICE Council, he’s set to become ICE president in November 2024.

Professor Hall is also a member of the UK prime minister’s Council for Science and Technology and chair of the Science Advisory Committee of the International Institute for Applied System Analysis (IIASA).

Furthermore, he created and chairs the UK Data and Analytics Facility for National Infrastructure (DAFNI).

He was awarded the ICE George Stephenson Medal in 2001 and the Prince Sultan Bin Abdulaziz International Prize for Water in 2018.

He was also a contributing author to the Nobel Prize-winning Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Rachel Skinner

Rachel Skinner


executive director

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Rachel Skinner

Rachel Skinner is an executive director at WSP, sitting on the UK Board to lead Corporate Responsibility (ESG) and Government Relations. Prior to her current role, she led WSP’s 600-strong UK transport planning and advisory team for several years. In 2020-21, Rachel served as the 156th President of the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) and she is a Patron of Women in Transport (a not-for-profit), having been one of its founding board members since 2005.

She is a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering, a chartered engineer and a chartered transport planner. She was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Leeds for services to transport, engineering and industry diversity and is an honorary fellow of the Society for the Environment.

Rachel was awarded a CBE for services to infrastructure in the 2022 New Year Honours list.

At present, Rachel chairs the Infrastructure Carbon workstream of the Infrastructure Client Group (ICG), the ICE’s Decarbonisation Advisory Board and the UK Department for Transport Taskforce that is focused on employment and skills. She also served two years as an Infrastructure Commissioner for Scotland from late 2018. In 2016, Rachel was listed as one of The Telegraph’s inaugural UK Top 50 Influential Women in Engineering; in 2017 she was named the Most Distinguished Winner and Best Woman Civil Engineer at the Women in Civil Engineering Awards, and in 2019 she was confirmed by the Financial Times as one of the UK’s Top 100 Women in Engineering.

Rachel has authored, scripted and hosted publications and films on topics including “Shaping Zero” about climate action for infrastructure, “Making Better Places” on place-making and future mobility, and before that about digital technology and its potential for infrastructure, industry innovation and collaboration. She is regularly invited to give keynote conference presentations and to chair international and national industry events.

Janet Greenwood

Janet Greenwood

major projects advisory, KPMG


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Janet Greenwood

Janet is a specialist in major and mega project and programme development, delivery and assurance with over 25 years’ experience.

She has experience in carbon and sustainability at both strategy and project delivery levels and is a member of leading industry carbon forums.

Janet Greenwood is a Director in KPMG’s Major Projects Advisory practice and has over 25 years’ experience developing and delivering major infrastructure programmes, having worked in the water, wastewater, flood defence and transport sectors.

She led two task groups of the Institution of Civil Engineer’s Carbon Project and is a founder member of the Cambridge University Centre for Smart Infrastructure in Construction’s Achieving Net Zero Roundtable.

A Fellow of the Institution of Civil Engineers, she has extensive experience in shaping and delivering major construction projects and supporting Infrastructure clients to deliver their most challenging programmes.

She is Chair of the Major Projects Association Sustainability Ambassadors Group.

Her experience includes roles in government, as a client and as a consultant, working on failure investigations, in site supervision, project management, programme management and sponsorship.

She has worked on the development and delivery of major projects including Thameslink, the South West Route Capacity Programme and Crossrail and held leadership roles at Tideway and the Lower Thames Crossing.

Maria Manidaki

Maria Manidaki

Mott MacDonald 

global technical lead for net zero

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Maria Manidaki

Maria is a chartered engineer and a technical director for Decarbonisation in Mott MacDonald. Her specialism is in infrastructure planning and decarbonisation.

Maria was the lead author of PAS 2080 (2016 and 2023) and co-author of the UK HM Treasury Infrastructure Carbon Review. Maria has worked with many infrastructure asset owners and their supply chains to help define their carbon management strategies and embed carbon management into infrastructure delivery programmes of work through best practice.

She is a member of the UK Green Construction Board and has been involved in various industry forums to help shape the decarbonisation agenda, including the ICE Carbon Project. She is a visiting lecturer on Sustainability and Low Carbon Practices at Cranfield University and a Member of the Industrial Advisory Panel. Maria is also a member of the UK Water Net Zero Expert Panel.

Mike Haigh FREng, FICE

Mike Haigh FREng, FICE

Mott MacDonald

Sustainable Infrastructure Advisor, Former Executive Chair

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Mike Haigh FREng, FICE

Distinguished for his business leadership and his technical expertise in water and environmental engineering. Mike has been responsible for the design, project management and delivery of a wide range of high-profile international projects. Mike is the former CEO of Mott MacDonald and former Chair of the World Economic Forum Infrastructure Industries Governors, member of the World Economic Forum’s Net Zero Carbon Cities Steering Board and member of the Alliance of CEO Climate Leaders. He is the former Chair of the UK Association for Consultancy and Engineering. Mike is an active climate and sustainability campaigner promoting a more sustainable, integrated infrastructure industry, underpinned by a diverse, inclusive, and digitally enabled workforce.

For more information please contact:

Kirsty Joyce