INNOVATION July-August 2015

f ea t ures

Responses to manage climate change risk fall into two broad categories: adaptation and mitigation. Adaptation refers to action undertaken to reduce the adverse consequences of climate change, for example, by raising dykes to protect against sea-level rise and storm surges. Mitigation refers to actions taken to reduce the causes of climate change, in particular to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Climate change mod- els indicate GHG reductions will be required to keep global average temperature increases to 2° C or less, relative to pre-industrial levels. This 2° C target is generally regarded as the limit needed to avoid danger- ous tipping points in the climate system and large-scale reduction of GHG emissions will be needed to meet the 2° C target. Social, political and technical responses are being proposed, tested, and debated, and their effectiveness may not always be clear. However, it is certain that engineers’ and geoscientists’ input into cost/benefit analyses will be critical to the prioritization of the various responses. Adaptation and mitigation are complementary strategies, and society will need a toolbox rich with options for both. It is worth noting that clients for engineering and geoscientist services are starting to ask that climate change impacts be incorporated into designs. Information and resources related to climate change will be needed by engineers and geoscientists to fulfill their professional obligations and this is being addressed. One example is the Climate Change Information Portal under development by APEGBC to provide links to resources Conclusions of the IPCC: “Continued emission of greenhouse gases will cause further warming and long-lasting changes in all components of the climate system, increasing the likelihood of severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts for people and ecosystems. Limiting climate change would require substantial and sustained reductions in greenhouse gas emissions which, together with adaptation, can limit climate change risks . ” (emphasis added) IPCC Climate Change 2014 Synthesis Report, Summary for Policymakers Available at:

and tools that can help engineer- ing and geoscience professionals in adapting their practices to a changing climate. The portal is intended to: a. Inform members how to conduct risk assessments to determine the climate resilience of public infrastructure (e.g., PIEVC protocol); b. Provide climate projections for a particular area (e.g., precipitation intensity-duration-frequency curves); and c. Alert members to other sources of climate change research and activities (e.g., links to trusted authorities). The full scope of engineers’ and geoscientists’ role in climate change risk management is still being defined, and APEGBC members are currently engaged in this process, such as through the association’s Climate Change Advisory Group and Sustainability Committee. Climate change mitigation and adaptation needs and opportunities are continually evolving, and are expected to have an impact on the engineering and geoscience professions at a fundamental level. v


J U LY/AU G U S T 2 015

i n n o v a t i o n

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