Extreme weather and rapid alterations to Canada’s climate are risks to both public safety and the reliability of Canada’s infrastructure. The disruption and cost to Canada’s economy when infrastructure is damaged or destroyed by extreme weather events is growing and becoming more frequent across Canada. Much of Canada’s infrastructure has been designed based on current weather patterns, leaving existing infrastructure vulnerable to damage caused by climate change.
Engineering is on the front line in the provision of infrastructure to society. For this reason, engineers have a significant role to play in addressing climate change issues and incorporating them into engineering practice in Canada. The profession has been engaged in this issue for over 15 years with a focus on infrastructure climate vulnerability and risk assessment, as well as proposing adaptation policies, strategies, and professional practices to improve resilience. Engineers, under their professional code of ethics, play a fundamental role in ensuring infrastructure designs and operations are continuously adapted to the impacts of climate change to ensure public safety.
Engineers Canada’s work in support of climate action
Since 2005, Engineers Canada has partnered with the provincial and territorial engineering regulators and other organizations to engage engineers with scientists, policy planners, industry leaders, and government decision-makers to advance the adaptation of public infrastructure to climate change.
As the national voice of the engineering profession, Engineers Canada advocates to the federal government on climate change issues that affect the engineering profession. Engineers Canada encourages the federal government to continue to require climate vulnerability processes and risk assessments to be a condition of funding approvals for infrastructure projects. In meetings and consultations with the federal government, Engineers Canada also recommends the continued funding of climate research; promoting awareness of climate change impacts, adaptation measures, and GHG reductions; promoting information-sharing on best adaptive practices and climate data; maintaining and improving a national network of climate and watershed data collection systems; continuing efforts to improve the accuracy and resolution of climate change projection models; continuing to support the Natural Resources Canada Climate Adaptation Platform; and continuing to support the Canadian Centre for Climate Services.
To learn more about Engineers Canada’s advocacy, refer to the National Position Statement on Climate Change and Extreme Weather Events and to our Government Submissions public page.
The Canadian Engineering Qualifications Board has published a national guideline for engineers on the principles of climate adaptation and mitigation for engineers. It is intended to set out general concepts and principles to inform engineering professionals on why adaptation and mitigation of climate change is relevant in professional practice. The guideline helps inform engineers of the 11 guiding principles, how to address the implications of climate change in their professional practice, and most importantly, how to create a clear record of the outcomes of those considerations.
The Canadian Engineering Qualifications Board has also published a national guideline on sustainable development and environmental stewardship for engineers. The guideline describes engineering practices that are anticipatory of sustainable development and preventative in degrading the environment. Each of the 10 guidelines that the document lays out are intended for engineers to practice in an environmentally responsible and sustainable manner. In particular, they are intended to be pro-active in the protection and stewardship of the environment by following principles of sustainability. Since 2018, Engineers Canada has partnered with Polytechnique Montréal to offer a free massive open online course (MOOC) entitled Sustainability in Practice, which demonstrates the practical application of the 10 guidelines in engineering practice. Sustainability in Practice is offered twice each year.
PIEVC Protocol and IRP Program
Between 2005 and 2012, Engineers Canada, with funding from Natural Resources Canada and in collaboration with partners from all levels of government and other sectors, formed the Public Infrastructure Engineering Vulnerability Committee (PIEVC). The committee developed and validated the PIEVC Protocol, a tool that has since been used for dozens of vulnerability assessments on infrastructure systems located in small communities and large urban centres, in Canada’s North, in First Nations communities, and on infrastructure worldwide. The PIEVC Protocol is also one of the few methodologies identified by Infrastructure Canada for climate change resilience assessment under Infrastructure Canada’s Climate Lens. In 2020, Engineers Canada transferred ownership and control of the PIEVC Protocol to a partnership consisting of the Institute of Catastrophic Loss Reduction, the Climate Risk Institute, and Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH.
In 2015, Engineers Canada created the Infrastructure Resilience Professional (IRP) designation for Canadian engineers. The IRP program provides training for engineers in asset management, risk management, the PIEVC Protocol, climate science, and climate change law, thereby providing engineers with the additional knowledge and competencies they need to plan, design, and manage resilient infrastructure in the face of a changing climate. In 2020, Engineers Canada transferred ownership of the IRP Program to the Climate Risk Institute.