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Introduction by Rachel Skinner, Head of Discipline - Transport, WSP in the UK
"As we emerge from the shock of the COVID-19 pandemic and start to see the long haul that lies ahead of us for recovery, the other global crisis – climate change – has not gone away. If we are to build back better in a real, organised and resilient way, it is now time for far more transport professionals (and our infrastructure colleagues across all other sectors) around the world to turn their minds to crafting solutions that will address both COVID-19 and climate together. This plays out across the whole sustainability spectrum and affects every project at all scales, and every transport mode and system in operation today.
The three critical aspects of true sustainability, embedded at the heart of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, have not changed: managing environmental and climate change, reducing social inequality and securing appropriate economic growth all remain ‘in play’. To continue the analogy, if we take our eye off the climate ‘ball’ then we are effectively choosing to open ourselves up not only to the risks of more frequent climate mega-shocks – floods, fires, droughts and their consequent effects – but also the more insidious and gradual longer-run climate change – towards warmer, drier or wetter conditions or poorer air quality– that affect far more people and livelihoods everywhere, every day, often without being noticed or addressed. The hard-wired link between these global sustainability challenges and
our everyday transport roles may not be immediately obvious, but it is inescapable (and inexcusable) that in 2020 the transport sector remains responsible for around a quarter of global carbon emissions. This proportion will increase as other sectors continue to tackle and reduce their emissions very substantially.
On the basis that a crisis always generates new opportunities if we look for them, the time for action must be now.
This paper is intended as a conversation starter but where the story ends depends on all of us. I look forward to hearing your thoughts."