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Costing the impacts of Climate Change on Public Infrastructure

Client: Financial Accountability Office of Ontario

Project Dates: 2021

Project Role: Subject Matter Expert (Asset Management; Climate Risks)

In June 2019, a Member of Ontario’s Parliament asked the Financial Accountability Office of Ontario (FAO) to analyze the costs that climate change impacts could impose on Ontario’s provincial and municipal infrastructure, and how those costs could impact the long-term budget outlook of the province. In response to this request, the FAO launched its “Costing Climate Impacts to Public Infrastructure” project (CIPI) and retained a consulting team (WSP)  that included several subject matter experts and included Dr. Guy Félio to support this work.

 

The CIPI is intended to be a comprehensive study analyzing how climate change – specifically the impacts of extreme rainfall, extreme heat, and freeze-thaw cycles – could impact the deterioration of provincial and municipal public infrastructure in Ontario, and the costs associated with potential adaptation measures. The objective of this assignment is to extend the FAO’s infrastructure deterioration model to include both the damage costs and adaptation costs (or a range of costs) associated with the most financially significant climate change hazards up to the year 2100, relative to the current state of good repair.

 

The project is broken into three phases. The first and second phases, performed internally by FAO, served as baseline assessments of the state of Ontario’s provincial and municipal infrastructure assets. The third phase, supported by the WSP consulting team, involved the analysis of the impacts of climate change-induced extreme weather events on said assets.

 

The purpose of the final phase of the CIPI project was to assess how changes in extreme rainfall, extreme heat, and freeze-thaw cycles impact on the long-term costs of three types of infrastructure in the province: buildings and facilities, public transportation, and public water systems. The first report, Buildings and Facilities, was released in November 2021; the full report from the consulting team was also released on that date.

 

This trail-blazing project was challenging from a number of aspects, mainly the integration of asset management, climate science and the emerging field of climate economics. Additionally, the team had to deal with missing or data inconsistencies from the asset inventory (provincial and municipal) and needed to develop an analytical framework that could incorporate model outputs from the Canadian Centre for Climate Services to ensure the sustainability and future updates of the assessment.

 

The CIPI project fills a significant knowledge gap in providing decision-makers a sound and rigorous methodology based on asset management principles and climate science. The impacts on assets (various classes or roads, bridges, buildings and major components, rail infrastructure, water and wastewater systems, drainage) are considered in regard to the assets’ useful life and three cost functions: O&M, retrofit, and replacement.

 

Several deliverables from this project are publicly available, including the dataset used in the analysis, an interactive dashboard (see: https://www.fao-on.org/en/CIPI-dashboard  and https://www.fao-on.org/en/Blog/Publications/cipi-backgrounder )

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