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ICE is hosting the World Federation of Engineering Organizations’ (WFEO) Committee on Engineering and the Environment from 2019 to 2023. In this blog series, members of the committee provide a snapshot of climate change impacts and solutions in their part of the world.
What is the level of acceptance in Canada that climate change is man-made and what actions have been put in place to address it?
What are the key issues in Canada that you consider to be caused by climate change?
Impacts of climate change vary across the country – our highly variable geography and large landmass dictates more local responses to adapt to the local climate.
Some of the key issues in Canada are extreme weather events. such as increased frequency and intensity of rainfall at local and regional levels. This has an impact on roads and highways, as well as causing complete flooding of smaller communities and urban flooding.
We've seen heatwaves and a rise in wildfires, especially in western areas. In addition, melting permafrost and reduced sea ice coverage has been caused by increasing temperatures in the Arctic and sub-Arctic regions, which, in turn, has an impact on buildings and pipeline infrastructure, roads and coastal structures.
Aftermath of a forest fire, Jasper National Park Alberta Canada. Image credit: Shutterstock.
Changing hydrology (runoff, precipitation and evaporation) in rivers and lakes is also affecting water storage for hydroelectricity, which affects agricultural production.
What do you think engineering could do about these issues?
What are the main barriers to effective climate action in both your country and the engineering profession?
The main barrier is in implementation, which is often caused by a lack of financial commitment by decision-makers. Costs to mitigate and adapt to climate change are still uncertain and it's difficult to obtain effective cost-shared agreements and division of responsibilities among stakeholders.
In Canada, it's sometimes difficult to coordinate and agree on actions between all three levels of government as there are jurisdictional and institutional limits to action.
Some infrastructure owners aren't prepared to invest in climate action measures, especially for designs that are outside of existing codes and standards that are becoming increasingly outdated as the climate changes.
There's also a reluctance to implement measures outside of existing guidelines and practices that often haven't taken climate change into account.
What are the key priorities for climate action within engineering?
Some priorities for engineering should be:
Education of existing practitioners, students and educators;
Updating of existing codes, standards and guidelines or the creation of new ones where there are gaps;
Better evidence of costs and benefits of adaptation and building climate resilience, particularly for civil infrastructure and buildings; and
Developing multi-stakeholder concurrence on the need for adaptive and mitigative actions.
For further information about ICE’s response to the net zero agenda, find out more about The ICE Carbon Project here.
Additionally, ICE's 13th Brunel International Lecture Series will explore how the engineering community can deliver a carbon-neutral and resilient society by mid-century.
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