Bringing the Mediterranean to Birmingham: nature-based solutions for the impact of extreme heat on regional interdependent infrastructure

11:15 Thursday 30 May


Room S6


Emma Ferranti (United Kingdom) 1

1 - University of Birmingham

The 25-year Environment Plan for the UK promises to improve the environment, within a generation by embedding the ‘net environmental gain’ principle in infrastructure developments. In parallel, the UK Climate Change Act requires infrastructure owners to understand the impact of climate change on their assets and report their plans for climate change adaption via the Adaptation Reporting Power (ARP). The reporting process is currently national, and siloed by sector (e.g. road transport, rail transport), and therefore by design does not consider infrastructure interdependencies, i.e. whereby a failure in one sector such as energy supply causes failure to cascade to other sectors.

In contrast, climate change impacts will be regional, cross-sectoral, and effective adaptation across interdependent infrastructure systems will require coordination between multiple bodies at regional scale. Bringing the Mediterranean to Birmingham is an ambitious Living with Environmental Change Fellowship (2018-2024) examining how nature-based solutions can integrate with adaption pathways in order to improve the natural environment and make infrastructure resilient to climate change. Its regional scale is appropriate for climate change impacts and the decision-making powers devolved to the West Midlands Combined Authority in 2017.

The Fellowship focuses on heat, and considers the impact of the low-likelihood extreme H++ climate scenarios and UKCP18 high emissions scenarios, which predict the equivalent of Mediterranean heat for Birmingham and the West Midlands in the future. These high-level impact scenarios can be used to stress test adaption plans for the project stakeholders, who include national and regional road and rail operators, and local authorities within the Midlands, and will facilitate discussion on adaptation approaches and potential nature-based solutions that will improve the environment, and increase regional infrastructure resilience to extreme heat. This presentation will provide an overview of the fellowship, and present preliminary findings on the impact of extreme heat on the interconnected infrastructure of Birmingham and its surrounds, and include the varying perspectives of the different regional stakeholders involved in the project.

The presentation also calls for nature-based solutions and other best-practice examples of heat-resilient infrastructure from practitioners and academics in cities that currently experience Mediterranean heat. Best practice examples will be those that deliver long-term sustainability and multiple benefits, such as urban greening, which can provide climate regulation to build heat resilience, but also improve air quality, provide sustainable urban drainage, and positively influence health and well-being.