Global climate change is shaping up as a major challenge of our times – for scientists, governments, businesses, and households. While no area of science is one hundred percent certain, the evidence suggests that climate change is already happening, and that the rate of change is increasing.
While the causes of climate change are debatable, it is clear that a prudent course of action would be to analyze and mitigate the most serious risk factors, and prepare for the effects of climate change. Appropriate steps include analyzing and reducing our overall carbon footprint; curbing greenhouse gas emissions; and adapting infrastructure and ecological management to accommodate conditions such as rising sea levels and higher temperatures.
Parsons Brinckerhoff is helping clients respond to the realities of climate change in a variety of ways. We are involved in efforts to measure the carbon footprint of organizations and communities, and to reduce current levels of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. We provide technical expertise to pursue mitigation strategies such as carbon capture and storage (CCS), as well as the exploitation of clean, renewable sources of energy. We are also participating in adaptation planning—a process that involves possible retrofits of existing infrastructure, as well as changes in the design and siting of new infrastructure.
In the US, Parsons Brinckerhoff is working with the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) to increase awareness of the implications of climate change for the transportation sector, and to implement strategies to reduce GHG emissions and adapt transportation systems. We were also appointed CCS technical advisor to the UK Government, and are serving as lead advisor to the Australian Federal Government for its “CCS Flagship Program,” which is aimed at accelerating deployment of large-scale CCS projects.
The future effects of climate change, and the implications for the design and construction of infrastructure, remain unclear. What is clear is the immediate need to understand the scope of the challenge—and to prepare for it.