Early preparation for climate change impacts would bring economic benefits to the UK, say engineers in a report commissioned by the government.
Engineering the Future - an alliance of professional engineering bodies - says companies will be more likely to invest in nations with secure infrastructure. It urges regulators to improve links between sectors for better planning. A climate-constrained future will bring more disruption to energy, transport, water and IT, it warns.
This increases the risk of "cascade failures", where a breakdown in one system has knock-on effects on others - such as a flood that takes out the local electricity supply, which in turn affects the mobile phone network.
Potential impacts of climate change covered by the report - Infrastructure, Engineering and Climate Change Adaptation - include:
Effective, reliable infrastructure underpins economic activity” End Quote Will Stewart, Southampton University
- damage to roads and railway tracks from prolonged high temperatures
- flooding of drainage networks
- increased damage to buildings from storms
The report concludes that complete protection against climate impacts will not be affordable, and society is going to have to decide what levels of prevention should be funded for various types of threat.
"At the moment, there's no mechanism for having that debate with the public, or even for having it within the regulatory and policy space," said David Nickols, managing director of future energy with engineering consultants WSP Group and a main author on the report.
"We're building infrastructure that's going to last 30 to 40 years, and yet we're not having a debate about whether our children will be happy with what we did."
Read more http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-12384389