Britain needs ‘vital infrastructure to resist coming climate shocks’

The government should set clear resilience standards for infrastructure operators and introduce stress tests, according to a new report

Vital infrastructure must be ready for the future to ensure the UK can remain resilient in the face of climate change.

That’s according to the recent report by the National Infrastructure Commission, which suggests the UK’s resilience may be challenged in the future by events which will not always be possible to foresee.

Drawing on a number of examples including the widespread power outage of August 2019 and the various incidents of flooding experienced in the UK recently, the report concludes the country needs infrastructure that can absorb and recover from ‘shocks’.

The report stresses in order to prepare better, the government should set clear resilience standards for infrastructure operators and introduce stress tests overseen by regulators similar to those employed in the financial sector.

It also recommends a new framework which is based on six key aspects of resilience: anticipate, resist, absorb, recover, adapt and transform.

The commission notes this approach should be followed by the government, regulators and operators to develop plans for anticipating and handling short term shocks.

John Armitt, Chair of the Commission, commented: “To safeguard the systems our communities rely on, everyone involved in running infrastructure needs to anticipate and prepare for potential future challenges.

“The framework proposed in our report offers the tools to face uncomfortable truths, value resilience properly, test for vulnerabilities and drive adaptation before it is too late.”

Emma Howard Boyd, Chair of the Environment Agency, said: “The climate emergency means shocks to the economy from record weather events are following each other with increasing speed.”

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