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Tackling climate change and social division with sustainable infrastructure

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Copper’s Alessia Rosi discusses how investment in sustainable infrastructure is the way forward for both our climate and our communities.

The Green New Deal, Extinction Rebellion, Greta Thunberg and the declaration of the climate emergency. The increase in private, public, national and international determination to tackle climate change is undeniable. And when it comes to infrastructure, net gain and geoengineering are just two examples of how the industry is introducing new ways to encourage climate change mitigation and adaptation.

The Green New Deal is a plan to create a new generation of jobs across industries and deliver the infrastructure that we need to tackle the climate crisis. In March, the UN Environment Assembly passed a resolution on sustainable infrastructure, which urges countries to consider the wider impacts of their infrastructure planning and development.

Infrastructure is critical to sustainable community development, well-being and people’s day-to-day lives. The infrastructure we are building today will shape tomorrow’s communities and these climate-focused initiatives present a timely reminder of infrastructure’s fundamental role in determining the future paths for our communities and our planet.

The UK’s green economy is on a roll with turnover from renewables and low carbon energy growing 6.8% and reaching nearly £45bn in 2017, according to the Office of National Statistics. But with new initiatives and progress comes the decline of older industries and generation systems.

It’s safe to say that there is widespread social dissatisfaction across the UK, which ultimately has led us to Brexit. In turn, the collapse of British Steel has been named as the ‘first major Brexit casualty’, disenfranchising affected communities in industrial areas across the country.

The UK needs an economy that works for everyone and to move beyond the old systems and status quo that has left many behind. Infrastructure projects and energy networks are fundamental drivers of economic growth, enhancing social inclusiveness alongside transport and telecommunications systems.

With sustainable initiatives on an international, national and local level, the possibilities to invest in low-carbon infrastructure have never been greater. If the industry takes this opportunity to work with the public and build trust in this time of change, it will be the beginning of addressing the challenges of both climate change and the social divide at the same time.

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