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HAUC(UK) 2023 – ‘Climate – Change or Bust’ (Cont.)

Ensuring that the right skills are in place to deliver the infrastructure the UK needs to thrive in the information, carbon-neutral age needs collaboration and for people to connect with each other and government to share best practice and innovation.

At this year’s HAUC(UK) conference – titled ‘Climate – Change or Bust’ – we’ll present the ongoing work and forthcoming innovation that represents a tipping point for our industry, its policy development, and operation. The Convention will be the first time we’ve come together as a sector since 2019; the connections we make and the conversations we have are guaranteed to be rewarding.

Local roads are the arteries through which our urban and rural metabolisms operate. They are the critical enablers of civilised life and must be engineered accordingly. Through research and practice, we can now obviate the need for trench excavations to access buried infrastructure – mitigating damage, at the same time – which enables us to implement Environmental Collaboration Zones. Our aspiration is to prove that local roads can be engineered and maintained in harmony with the natural environment, with minimum disruption, through an all-encompassing ‘consequences calculator’. Extending our industry-wide carbon calculator, this approach should deliver environmentally cohesive, carbon-neutral design options for road and street works.

The statistics offer clarity, and the need for improvement is clear. Globally, we emit around 50 billion tonnes of CO2e each year. We’re trapping the sun’s heat and raising the average temperature, which results in global warming and ultimately climate change. The IPCC reports that, to keep global warming within 1.5°C of pre-industrial levels, we need global greenhouse gas emissions to peak before 2025, be reduced 43% by 2030, be mitigated completely by 2050 to avoid extreme climatic changes taking hold.

This situation is man-made: the world’s population has doubled since 1970 and with it, the requirements to support 7.9 billion people. This, coupled with the human condition of excess, has resulted in the annual extraction of 60 billion tons of natural resources, exhausting the earth’s regenerative budget sooner each year. Earth Overshoot Day’ uses the hashtag #movethedate to increase awareness about this, and our Conference is a small landmark in the coming-together of protagonists who embody the potential for progress, here in the UK.

It’s easy to understand why many of us have lost sight of the natural world. 55% of the world’s population live in cities and have hectic modern lifestyles. Sadly, as a result, the decline of urban green space is something that we’ve started taking for granted. But with the population continuing to grow and more people choosing to live in urban environments and suburbs, we need to focus on ways of working that have a positive impact on people’s health and wellbeing.

Complex urban systems need a system-based approach that will enable people to manage their complexity and identify where nature-based solutions may be most effective. Cities are important for our society and economy. We must prioritise sustainability by increasing resource efficiency, reducing land take, reducing emissions and waste and incorporating green and blue infrastructure offers huge opportunities socially, economically and environmentally.


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