A holistic approach to climate change adaptation

I’m delighted to be the first poster on the Climate Ready Clyde Blog. As Head of Sustainable Engineering at Transport Scotland, I am responsible for the adaptation of Scotland’s strategic transport networks to the future changes in our climate. Transport in the Glasgow City Region is good but, as Climate Ready Clyde’s forthcoming Risk and Opportunity assessment will show, it is vulnerable to severe weather. Without transport other services will cease to function affecting industry, agriculture, tourism and health. Similarly, land use patterns drive future infrastructure requirements

As an engineer I am well used to using materials such as steel and concrete to construct new bridges and roads. However, climate change adaptation is not necessarily a problem that could or should be built out of.

What is needed is a more holistic approach to all land management, urban and rural, private and public. As we move to develop the City Region’s adaptation strategy, we will all need to start to take hard decisions. There will still be a place for flood defences and these will be required more and more as sea level rises and flooding becomes more acute. But equally, we will also need more conversations about the possibility of abandoning or relocating land and property, (and associated infrastructure) that is too expensive to protect or to allow agricultural land to be flooded to protect areas downstream.

This requires money for compensation and more and anything else a change in mind set requiring a robust business case and evidence base. The key to success of this is collaboration and communication.

I am very pleased that Transport Scotland is part of the Climate Ready Clyde initiative as strategic collaboration will be the key to making sure that the Glasgow City region is properly adapted. Exciting discussions are part of the initiative and help increase my and other knowledge base and foster an environment when innovation is encouraged. Transport involves journeys and climate change adaptation is a journey we must join and complete. I am sure Climate Ready Clyde is one organisation which will reach its destination!

By Graham Edmond BSc CEng MICE
Head of Sustainable Engineering
Transport Scotland