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Technical guidance on the climate proofing of infrastructure in the period 2021-2027   

If we were to trust the words that are being spoken right now about the environment, the climate and the soil, we would think we had gained the right to a wonderful world, and that the powerful of the earth were defending it with all their physical and economic capacity.

The reality is right in front of our eyes, however. Fortunately there are still those with the energy to fight for a fairer world, a healthier environment, and an inclusive society. The young people of Fridays For Future (FFF) have resumed their demonstrations, Extinction Rebellion (XR) are back on the streets, associations and groups are trying to make themselves heard. Th e “wind” must continue to change.

This is the direction of travel of the European Commission’s Note on “Technical guidance on the climate proofing of infrastructure in the period 2021-2027“.

“The guidance will help mainstream climate considerations in future investment and development of infrastructure projects from buildings, network infrastructure to a range of built systems and assets. That way, institutional and private European investors will be able to make informed decisions on projects deemed compatible with the Paris Agreement and the EU climate objectives.”

“The impacts of climate change are already having repercussions for assets and infrastructure with long lifetimes such as railways, bridges or power stations, and these impacts are set to intensify in the future. For example, building in areas that are likely to be affected by sea level rise requires particular attention; similarly, heat tolerance for railway tracks needs to account for the projected higher maximum temperature rather than historical values. It is therefore essential to clearly identify – and consequently to invest in – infrastructure that is prepared for a climate-neutral and climate-resilient future.”

“Based on lessons learnt from climate-proofing major projects over the period 2014-2020, this guidance also integrates climate-proofing with project cycle management (PCM), environmental impact assessments (EIA), and strategic environmental assessment (SEA) processes, and it includes recommendations to support national climate-proofing processes in Member States.”

The soil has a significant presence in this document. We therefore recommend that it should be read by public administrators, planners and builders at national, regional and local level. We recommend in particular a close reading of the annexes and especially Annex F, Recommendations in support of climate: Providing national open data needed for climate proofing, mitigation and adaptation modelling, and common data for infrastructure planning and projects.

Will our heroes succeed in following the rules set out in the Commission’s Note?  As usual we keep our fingers crossed, but we can’t carry on living on hope: these guidelines must be adopted and enforced by national laws.