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Development and climate: impacts and adaptation for infrastructure assets in India

This paper presents a framework and case studies for assessing the likely climate change impacts on long-life assets, using a methodology of reverse matrix for climate change impact analysis. The author sites the recently constructed Konkan railway, a major infrastructure project laid through the high rainfall mountain region in mid-western India, as a typical example of high value long-life asset exposed to climate extremes.

The author claims that the analysis of the Konkan railway project shows that the assessment of including adverse climate impacts would have altered the project design and configuration. A bi-directional impact matrix that includes the impact of project on the environment as well as impact of environmental changes on the project is proposed by the author.

The paper suggests that the likely damages to long-life assets and dependent economic activities from climate change could be enormous. The need for developing the insurance market for spreading the risks of extreme climate impacts is discussed in the paper. This analysis indicates that the adaptation strategies should integrate climate change impacts with the overall assessment of investment decisions and design of infrastructure projects

The paper presents a detailed assessment of the impacts on infrastructure, including:

  • preparation of a catalogue of historic extreme events, assessing the damages and providing the loss estimates in coastal and inland areas, showing the spatial distribution
  • detailed geographic information systems covers with topographic, vegetation and geological details showing the major infrastructure systems and components
  • sensitivity assessment of the infrastructure components with respect to various forcing climate parameters.

This paper was presented at the OECD Global Forum on Sustainable Development: Development and Climate Change, Paris 2004. [adapted from author]