New Report on Infrastructure at Risk

Resources for the Future, one of the least partisan of Washington think tanks, has issued a new report entitled Adapting to Climate Change: The Public Policy Response – Public Infrastructure by James E. Neumann and Jason C. Price.   The report makes three major recommendations for how to improve infrastructure planning in light of climate change:

  • The need to take best advantage of replacement opportunities, including extreme events. More frequent and destructive extreme events, such as recent hurricanes and riparian floods, have already proven to be a huge challenge to maintaining public infrastructure. At the same time, many studies note that adaptation to climate stresses is more cost‐effectively accomplished during the design phase of projects, rather than as a retrofit to existing capital.
  • The need for integration of planning.In both the transportation and coastal defense areas, and to some extent sewer infrastructure, studies have concluded that resources could be allocated more efficiently if infrastructure planning were better integrated with land‐use planning. . . .
  • The need to encourage innovation in technology and the updating of standards. Many ofthe studies reviewed here note that a change in climate will present technological challenges that may require more resilient infrastructure capital. . . . The Canadian government has already launched several efforts in this direction.