Despite efforts at mitigation, our climate is changing and all sectors of the economy need to adapt to it, especially large infrastructure managers and landowners like the railway industry.
Railways have been forming part of our landscape for years and as such, they have been constantly subjected to the effects of the weather. Now, due to climate change, railways are more than ever exposed to hard weather conditions and thus, the need for adaptation is growing urgently.
To cope with extreme weather and to recover quickly from it, various strategies have been implemented by different railway companies that aim to cope with the impacts of flooding, storms and gales, intense short time period rainfall, extended rain periods, thunderstorms, hot temperatures and changing vegetation.
Research and information shared by UIC illustrates that if the right information is given in time to the right stakeholders, then good adaptation strategies can be implemented, providing the possibility to mitigate the consequences of climate change. In that frame, Carole Escolan-Zeno, Head of the Sustainable Unit at UIC, participated in an event held in Geneva from 16 – 17 April 2019 – the Expert Meeting on Climate Change Adaptation for International Transport: Preparing for the Future.
This meeting, convened by the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), provided a forum for technical experts, key industry stakeholders and relevant international organisations to hold an informal discussion on advancing climate change adaptation and resilience building for international transportation across closely interlinked global supply chains. Topics ranged from seaports, inland waterways, shipping to inland transport and cross-modal network to airports and aviation as well as climate policy framework, finance, standards and capacity building.
The event aimed to identify effective ways to support adaptation action, resilience and capacity building and to develop policy recommendations to help inform the UN Climate Summit in September 2019 and contribute towards advancing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Carole Escolan-Zeno provided inputs for railways during the dedicated session on inland transport along with other representatives from the sector. On a global level, transport underpins trade and society, therefore, transport should be considered as a whole system and rail plays a crucial role in this system. There is a need for a higher level and wider way of thinking and encourage multi-stakeholder cooperation for adaptation. She mentioned that “adaptation strategies shall relate to risk assessment”. Organisations shall be able to change and adapt intelligently depending on the circumstances. She emphasized how “adaptation actions shall become part of business as usual rather than a special project or process”. Mrs Escolan-Zeno, also added how important it is to prepare stakeholders for the impacts of climate change and for the significant role of adaptation.
In 2017, UIC launched RailAdapt aimed at keeping UIC Members informed and prepared, in support of national Adaptation Plans, UN agreements and EU encouragement to reduce risks and costs whilst improving railways’ resilience in the face of Climate Change. UIC pursues this and you can find more about UIC’s work on adaptation here: https://uic.org/railadapt-report