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“Climate Resilient Infrastructure: Preparing for a Changing Climate”

Volume 527: debated on Monday 9 May 2011

This morning I will launch “Climate Resilient Infrastructure: Preparing for a Changing Climate”. This outlines the Government’s vision for an infrastructure network that is prepared for the future changing climate to help protect the economy and its future growth. The document encourages a much stronger focus on adapting infrastructure to the impacts of climate change as part of a green economy.

Publishing this document fulfils a commitment made last year, when the Government launched the country’s first ever national infrastructure plan, to publish a document focusing on adapting infrastructure in the energy, ICT, transport and water sectors.

The document makes it clear that climate change will have significant implications for infrastructure in particular from more unpredictable extreme weather. Higher temperatures, changing rainfall patterns, rising sea levels and more frequent extreme weather events ranging from drought to freezing winters, mean it is necessary to look now at how to prepare new and existing infrastructure for the impacts of climate change.

This approach will help minimise risks of disruption to infrastructure and higher economic costs to business and the country from climate change. That is why my Department’s business plan has a priority to

“Support a strong and sustainable green economy, resilient to climate change”;

adapting infrastructure to the impacts of climate change is a key part of delivering on this priority.

Hundreds of experts in infrastructure and engineering have been engaged throughout this work to provide a thorough analysis of the challenges and potential solutions to increasing the climate resilience of infrastructure. “Climate Resilient Infrastructure” makes the case for action, identifying who needs to act, the challenges they may face, the opportunities available and how Government can assist.

The infrastructure we rely on to keep the country running is already vulnerable to severe weather; this risk will only increase if we are not proactive and adapt to climate change. The document I am launching today emphasises the importance of early action now to minimise this risk. Importantly, it also sets out the economic opportunities climate change could present to our leading infrastructure and engineering companies.

The document covers UK Government policy in England and in the UK for reserved matters. The House will be updated on progress made in implementing the actions in the document when the Government publishes its first adaptation programme, required by the Climate Change Act in response to the climate change risk assessment due in January 2012.

I have arranged for copies of “Climate Resilient Infrastructure: Preparing for a Changing Climate” to be placed in the Vote Office. The document is also available on DEFRA’s website at