The substantial impact that climate change will have on infrastructure makes it particularly important to incorporate this risk into our long-term planning and management.
Addressing risks to infrastructure
The Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) has supported the Infrastructure Sustainability Council of Australia’s (ISCA) development of a Sustainability rating tool.
ISCA's Guideline for Climate Change Adaptation (PDF 765 KB) can be used to help infrastructure designers, engineers and builders to measure and manage vulnerability to future climatic conditions. The guideline applies to all stages of the infrastructure life cycle and will help ensure that roads, dams, bridges, water supply and wastewater systems are resilient to the future impacts of climate change. The North West Rail Link construction, for example, is using the rating system to inform design, contracting and operation.
NSW Treasury has prepared guidelines for the economic appraisal of assets and infrastructure assessments in terms of climate change. Potential risks to public assets from climate change should be considered in the context of the NSW Treasury guidance framework outlined in:
- Economic Appraisal Guidelines – Guidance on climate change for asset and infrastructure assessments NSW TC 10/12 (PDF, 48.5KB)
- TPP07-5 NSW Government Guidelines for Economic Appraisal
Adaptation for Sydney's water
The AdaptWater tool (PDF 345 KB) used by Sydney Water quantifies the adaptation options for water assets. It provides a comprehensive review of the complex direct and indirect risks, along with flexible adaptation pathways and estimates of their cost effectiveness.
The NSW Government's 2010 Metropolitan Water Plan concentrated its adaptive planning on four major areas: dams, recycling, desalination and water efficiency. More information on Sydney’s water infrastructure is available at Water for Life.
Adaptation for critical infrastructure
Critical infrastructure is highly interdependent, which means the ability to contain climate related disruption to services and assure resilience is quite limited without a system-wide view.
The Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) is delivering the Cross Dependency Initiative or XDI Sydney (PDF 189KB), a pilot project to identify areas where there are critical extreme weather and climate change risks to assets, and importantly the dependencies between different types of infrastructure.
Building on the AdaptWater tool (PDF 345 KB) AdaptInfrastructure will provide detailed insights into hazards, exposure and vulnerability across a complex system.
The tool encourages ‘collaborative adaptation’ so that all affected providers can contribute to the costs of upgrading or replacing an asset, making considerable savings compared to adapting their own assets.