Canberra quantifies climate risk to infrastructure


Queensland has most to lose in roads and buildings, according to national report

By Rob McKay | June 6, 2011

Between 26,000 and 33,000 kilometers of road would face destruction or damage by the end of the century if estimates of a "high end" 1.1 metre rise in sea levels are realised, according to a Federal Government report.

The replacement cost would be $46 billion to $60 billion in 2008 dollars, the document, Climate Change Risks to Coastal Buildings and Infrastructure - A Supplement to the First Pass National Assessment, released today by the Department of Climate Change and Efficiency, states.

Western Australia had the greatest extent and Queensland the greatest value of roads at risk

WA has between 7,500km and 9,100km of roads exposed, much of it unsealed, at a replacement value of between $8.7 billion and $11.3 billion.

Queensland has 3,600 and 4,700 km, worth between $9.7 billion and $12.9 billion, in danger, with the higher value relating to the greater percentage of freeways and main roads at risk.

"The total value and length of road and rail infrastructure indicates a high level of exposure to future climate change impacts," the report says.

"Impacts to transport networks will also have flow on effects – for emergency evacuation, ability to efficiently move goods and people and for access to service facilities, such as hospitals. "Analysing the implications of disruption to transport networks and associated services will be an important part of preparing local and regional responses to the impacts of climate change."

Queensland is also in the frame for rail infrastructure concerns, with between 420km and 570km, and highest estimated replacement value of between $1.7 billion and $2.3 billion.

The national figure is between 1,200km and 1,500km of rail lines and tramways, worth between $4.9 billion and $6.4 billion.

The state was unable to escape being the one most at risk for light-industrial buildings.

Replacement values for these assets range from $1.3 billion to $2 billion there.

Next worse off was South Australia with $600 million to $1.2 billion, followed closely by NSW ($800 million–$1.1 billion) and WA ($700 million–$1.1 billion).

"More than $226 billion in commercial, industrial, road and rail, and residential assets are potentially exposed to inundation and erosion hazards at a sea level rise of 1.1 metres," the report says.

The report follows the 2009 Climate Change Risks to Australia’s Coasts report, which warned of increased corrosion of concrete at ports of up to 70 percent.

That report also predicted a likely increase in capital expenditure needed to address the climate change
impact of between 9 percent and 17 percent in major mainland-state ports in 40 years 2031-2070 and the 30 years 2070-2100.

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