Australian Infrastructure Plan first steps on climate welcome, but more needed Media Release

Feb 17, 2016 - 3:00pm

The Climate Institute welcomes the clear recognition in the Australian Infrastructure Plan of the need to reduce emissions and prepare for the impacts of climate change through the planning, design, development and operation of Australia’s national infrastructure, but notes that the recommendations don’t go far enough.

“The Australian Infrastructure Plan makes it clear that, as long term investments, our energy and transport infrastructure have to both cope with the projected changes in climate, and reduce their contributions to rising temperatures,” said John Connor, CEO of The Climate Institute. “The next step, however, is to properly integrate these risks with clarity and action.”

Connor said that while Infrastructure Australia’s focus on climate risk and greenhouse gas emissions is welcome, the implications of the commitments made by Australia and other governments in Paris in 2015, to help avoid 1.5 to 2°C warming above pre-industrial levels, should be more fully realised.

“Our Paris commitments mean we must reach net zero emissions by 2050,” he said. “Infrastructure planning and investment needs to drive the transition to net zero emissions across our energy and transport and urban planning systems. Given the long life of these assets the sooner we do this the lower the cost.”

“But we also need to plan for not only the likely impacts of a 1.5-2C rise in temperatures, but for the more extreme and catastrophic events that come with a 3-4°C rise, because this is still the path that we are on.”

Infrastructure Australia’s Australian Infrastructure Audit recognizes that projected weather events, which would exceed historic conditions, are likely to exceed infrastructure design standards and reduce resilience. It recognises that half our emissions now come from the electricity and transport sectors. To this end, it points out that infrastructure plans, construction methods and operational frameworks need to factor in emission reductions.

“Infrastructure Australia points to OECD modelling which predicts global GDP losses of 0.7 and 0.25 per cent by 2060 if action is not taken on climate change. Nationally, the 2011 Garnaut Review conservatively estimated climate costs to Australian infrastructure alone would be worth $9 billion annually by 2020,” Connor said.

“It is welcome that Infrastructure Australia has called for a cohesive strategy to transition the electricity sector to lower emissions and world’s best practice standards for light and heavy vehicles. However, the real goal is not ‘low emissions’ but ‘no (net) emissions’” – unless we have a plan for a net zero emissions economy it’s not a real climate plan.”

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Brinsley Marlay | Media & Communications Manager | 02 8239 6299

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