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Briefing sheet

Moving beyond COP26

22 March 2022

As a civil engineer, do you know what the pledges of the 2021 UN Climate Change Conference mean for you?

Moving beyond COP26
With around 70% of the world’s carbon emissions being linked to infrastructure, civil engineers are critical in the implementation of solutions to this global problem.

COP26 ended with global agreement to accelerate action on climate this decade. Nearly 200 countries agreed the Glasgow Climate Pact to finalise the outstanding elements of the Paris Agreement and keep the 1.5C ambition alive but, as a civil engineer, what does that mean for you?

We are natural problem solvers, and the problem that now needs solving is how we mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change – do you know what action you can take today to move us another step in the right direction?

The ICE has been working with its members to accelerate solutions to the climate crisis and COP26 provided additional impetus.

This paper aims to provide civil engineers with a summary and interpretation of key pledges and commitments made at COP26, an explanation of the implications of these and suggestions of the practical steps that will need to be taken as a result.

It also identifies areas for further ICE research and projects to assist with answering the questions and challenges that have arisen.

The implications are wide-ranging, covering several topics that are central to the work of civil engineers, and the paper is structured into the following five main themes:

  • Emission reduction commitments and carbon trading
  • Carbon accounting
  • Financing infrastructure
  • Nature-based solutions
  • Adaptation and resilience

Relevant decisions and commitments at COP26 are highlighted throughout the different sections, with key messages for civil engineers and follow up actions also included.

The paper has been informed by a limited literature review and a roundtable workshop attended by invited representatives of the ICE’s Community Advisory Boards and other ICE Fellows.

Your feedback and comment on this paper is welcomed. Have the right actions been identified to move the industry forward in the right direction? What else can the ICE do to help you take the actions that are needed? What best practice do you have to share? How can you help with ICE with any of the suggested areas of work that we will be looking into? Email the [email protected]

  • Prof. Jim Hall, senior vice president at ICE