Built Environment, Energy & Climate Change

In the run up to the globe's most important meeting on climate change, the #CIWEMtalksCOP26 series asks thought leaders from the water and environmental industry and beyond to answer a common question: what do you most want COP26 to deliver? Here we'll be serialising their answers.

Aisling McGilloway is a Chartered Water and Environmental Manager and Chartered Engineer. She is incoming chair of CIWEM’s Scotland branch for 2021/2022 and has seven years’ experience in the flood risk management sector.

McGilloway currently works at AECOM, based in Edinburgh as a senior engineer. In her role she is responsible for developing hydraulic models and hydrological analyses for a range of flood studies and surface water management plans. She then uses her civils background to engineer and appraise options to reduce flood risk and create wider benefits.

McGilloway is passionate about using blue green infrastructure to create more climate resilient and multifunctional spaces. Her focus when working on surface water management plans often seeks to retrofit SuDS features in inner city areas. This reduces pressure on sewer networks and introduces biodiversity and amenity benefits.

“For me, COP26 needs to demonstrate firm commitments to move away from business as usual for new development and management of infrastructure. Governments must formally recognise the climate is already changing and it will continue to change even as we reduce emissions. This will cause devastating effects, as seen over the summer.

"I would like to see collaboration and brain storming between delegates that inform investment plans to make infrastructure and services resilient to floods, heat, and humidity. These must be published in the immediate future to save greater disruption to lives and larger cost in the future. This should include commitment towards the protection and restoration of ecosystems.

"A pledge to mainstream blue-green infrastructure at COP26 is needed to adapt our communities to climate change. Here in the UK, more severe heatwaves and intense rainfall/increased flood risk will become more frequent. It is therefore essential nature-based solutions are prioritised in policy and allocated funding to allow urban cooling and attenuation/storage of more intense storms.

"I would like to see linkage between climate goals set out in COP26 and biodiversity goals set out in COP15 as these should go hand in hand as part of nature-based solutions to maximise benefits.

"Based on the most recent IPCC report setting a “code red” for human led global warming, COP26 represents the most urgent opportunity to prevent catastrophic climate change.

"Although many governments and organisations now recognise the importance of achieving net zero, much of this feels hypothetical and lacks concrete delivery plans. Achieving this goal will involve radical policy changes and deviations in our day to day lives.

"I feel it is essential at COP26 there are firm commitments and timetables to publish delivery plans for each nation. As a host and self-proclaimed “world leader” the UK government should lead by example in committing to delivery plans. COP26 should set out a template for these plans which should include a fully programmed strategy to net zero by 2030 which also identifies funding streams.

"I’m optimistic about COP26 and hope Scotland’s strong progress towards its ambitious climate targets acts as a catalyst for concrete global action.“

Connect with Aisling

Connect with Aisling

Aisling McGilloway is incoming chair of CIWEM’s Scotland branch for 2021/2022 and a senior engineer at Aecom.

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