The European Commission seek to adapt future infrastructures to climate change
On July 29, the European Commission has published new technical guidance on climate-proofing of infrastructure projects for the period 2021-2027.
In the light of the alarming report, published by the IPCC, the guidance will help mainstream climate considerations in future investment and development of infrastructure projects from buildings, network infrastructure to a range of built systems and assets. That way, institutional and private European investors will be able to make informed decisions on projects deemed compatible with the Paris Agreement and the EU climate objectives.
The guidance adopted will thus help the EU deliver the European Green Deal, implement requirements under the European Climate Law and make EU spending greener. It is aligned with a greenhouse gas emission reduction pathway of -55% net emissions by 2030 and climate neutrality by 2050; follows the ‘energy efficiency first’ and ‘do no significant harm’ principles; and fulfils requirements set out in the legislation for several EU funds such as InvestEU, Connecting Europe Facility (CEF), European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), Cohesion Fund (CF) and the Just Transition Fund (JTF).
The impacts of climate change are already having repercussions for assets and infrastructure with long lifetimes and these impacts are set to intensify in the future. It is therefore essential to clearly identify – and consequently to invest in – infrastructure that is prepared for a climate-neutral and climate-resilient future.
Climate-proofing is a process that integrates climate change mitigation and adaptation measures into the development of infrastructure projects. The technical guidance adopted today sets out common principles and practices for the identification, classification and management of physical climate risks when planning, developing, executing and monitoring infrastructure projects and programmes.
The process is divided into two pillars (mitigation, adaptation) and two phases (screening, detailed analysis) and the documentation and verification of climate-proofing forms is considered an essential part of the rationale for making investment decisions.
– Infrastructure is a broad concept which includes: network infrastructure crucial for the functioning of today’s economy and society, notably water (e.g. water supply pipelines, reservoirs, waste water treatment facilities); other physical assets in a wider range of policy areas such as water.
– The resources available in the Member States to develop climate-resilient infrastructure have been mapped in a study undertaken by the Commission and published in 2018. The study uses seven criteria (data availability, guidance, methodologies, tools, design standards, system and legal framework, institutional capacity) and covers transport, broadband, urban development, energy, and water and waste sectors.