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New Presidents take action on climate change

11 November 2020

Action on climate change mitigation and adaptation is the key focus for ICE through 2021 and it will be achieved through collaboration on a global level.

New Presidents take action on climate change
US President-elect Joe Biden and ICE President Rachel Skinner

The time for action on climate change and carbon is now. That is the message coming through loud and clear through two very different incoming Presidents that will have a major impact on civil engineers and civil engineering over the next 12 months.

First, there is US President Elect Joe Biden whose climate plan could put the Paris Agreement's goal of limiting global warming to 1.5˚C "within striking distance," according to leading government climate action tracker, Climate Action Tracker. To get there, the US must achieve Biden's pledge to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

ICE President's Address

Then there is ICE’s own new President Rachel Skinner who, in her inauguration address this month, placed action on carbon as the single most important issue for the profession to tackle.

Delivered entirely digitally for the first time in ICE history, Rachel was joined by a host of household names and champions of climate change action such as explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes, chair of the UK government’s Committee on Climate Change Lord Deben and former home secretary Amber Rudd. Together, they explained how civil engineers, with their tools and skills, are almost uniquely placed to be the ones to address climate change. It is truly inspirational and can be watched any time on demand: if you’ve not yet, then do so. It is essential watching. 

In her address Rachel sets out the action ICE is taking this year through The Carbon Project, ICE’s collaborative effort to deliver rapid progress towards net zero carbon across all infrastructure systems, programmes and projects. ICE’s sustainability knowledge manager Rob Curd explains.

The global challenge

Both Presidents are very clear that action on carbon reduction – and action on climate change more broadly, which is as much about climate change adaptation and resilience as it is mitigation and carbon reduction, cannot be done alone. These are truly global challenges.

From Biden’s perspective that means re-entering the Paris climate accord - which President Donald Trump left - on his first day in office, and then through "a major diplomatic push" seek to "raise the ambitions of countries' climate targets."

From Rachel's perspective it is for that reason that ICE is joining forces with the American Society of Civil Engineers and the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy as founding partners of an International Coalition for Sustainable Infrastructure (ICSI).

It is a potentially hugely powerful coalition that also boasts as founding partners Arup-backed resilient infrastructure think tank Resilience Shift and global consultancy WSP. Collectively the coalition has pledged to identify and address the biggest barriers to action that have prevented engineers and city leaders from working together for a sustainable, resilient and inclusive future.

ICE has committed to leading an innovation trends working group that will see ICE bringing together experts from across the globe to select the innovative trends that are likely to create the most impact on sustainability and resilience and develop a shortlist of potential innovative projects to showcase and share.

ICE’s commitment to the coalition will be restated this week at its first annual symposium which is set to feature Gonzalo Muñoz and Nigel Topping, COP26 High-Level Climate Champions for Chile and the UK respectively. ICE sharing a stage (albeit a virtual one) with leaders such as Munoz and Topping serve to illustrate the potential impact of the coalition.

So if you would like to get involved please email us .

Related links

  • Find out more about the importance of working in partnership to tackle climate change and the role of ICSI from Resilience Shift global executive director Seth Schultz as he delivers the 2020/21 Brunel International Lecture series around the world
  • Read Rachel's blog on net-zero
  • Find out more on ICE's mission to work towards net-zero on The Carbon Project microsite
  • Mark Hansford, director of engineering knowledge at Institution of Civil Engineers