Climate change presents serious threats to infrastructure investment and development — McKinsey & Co
Climate change is revealing infrastructure vulnerabilities. Nine of the costliest mainland US hurricanes on record have occurred in the past 15 years. Hurricane Sandy in 2012 caused $70 billion in infrastructure damages and climate change is expected to further intensify these risks.
These sobering findings come from a new report published by McKinsey & Co which sets out how ‘Infrastructure is the backbone of the global economy, connecting people, enhancing quality of life, and promoting health and safety. But climate change is revealing infrastructure vulnerabilities.’
The issue is that the pace of climate change has accelerated and is fast overtaking the anticipated longevity for which the majority of infrastructure assets have been designed. Energy plants running on coal have a lifespan of 40-50 years, hydropower dams are planned to last up to 100 years; they are now operating outside of their tolerance levels. With climate change and more extreme weather events, there is an economic threat to the large investments made in the projects, and additional threats beyond that to the communities which rely on the vital services the infrastructures deliver, including power, water, waste, transport and housing.
Infrastructure will need to adapt, with firms like our own Greenwood Sustainable Infrastructure reshaping infrastructure assets to be more decentralized, decarbonized, resilient, and technology enabled.