Our infrastructure isn’t prepared for climate change. This summer’s record heat wave has illustrated the immediate impacts of extreme weather and temperature events on our safety and ability to travel. As climate change accelerates these extremes, we need to be prepared to enhance our infrastructure’s resilience and adaptability.
As transportation planners and environmental researchers look at climate policies, a smooth and equitable transition to a low-carbon global economy is an essential component. In the passenger vehicle sector, how will this process be affected by oil demand and EV adoption trends? A new report examines a number of EV penetration forecasts and summarizes the 2019 trends and their changes since 2018. The report focuses on passenger vehicles, which account for about 23 percent of oil demand. While other segments of the transportation sector—trucks, and aviation and shipping—account for about 29 percent of the oil demand, electrifying cars may be easier, according to the author.
There is a lot we still don’t know about how climate change will affect transportation networks and how to make infrastructure more resilient, but new research sheds some light on these questions. A model developed to study the impacts of floods on road networks indicates that even small, localized increases in rainfall could cause widespread disruptions and road outages.
A new study by researchers at the Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment, and Energy finds that in order to achieve needed reductions in vehicle-based CO2 emissions, a combination of both market-based and regulatory policies must be adopted worldwide. Furthermore, the authors find that no one singular policy, even when implemented to the extreme, can achieve reductions equivalent to several policies combined.
Hawaii has estimated the price tag will be $15 billion to raise, push back, or relocate highways to address concerns over rising seas levels because of climate change. High surf is already damaging some highways, and initial estimates indicate about 15 percent of all HDOT highways will be susceptible to rising sea levels.
Farmers Insurance Group filed class action suits against hundreds of Chicago-area governments in May, claiming that they knew of risks caused by climate change yet did not prepare well enough for 2013 flooding that resulted in customer damages and claims. On June 4, 2014, the company withdrew the suit, saying it had made its point. Farmers Insurance is a subsidiary of Zurich Insurance Group, which has been warning about climate change risks for years.
New York Governor Cuomo recently called on the New York City Metropolitan Transit Authority to look strategically at developing a climate-change ready and resilient transit system that will benefit the New York metro region. Amtrak’s tunnels under the Hudson River are another key piece of the metro region’s transit system. These tunnels, which flooded during Superstorm Sandy and sustained significant damage, are susceptible to future storm damage, but plans for maintenance and capacity expansion are uncertain.
On January 14, Governor Deval Patrick of Massachusetts announced $52 million in funding for a statewide plan to address the present and future impacts of climate change. Citing weather events such as Tropical Storm Irene in 2011, the governor pointed out that climate change is creating more disruptive weather and challenging public health, safety, and economic vitality.
For the first time, Standard & Poor’s has rated a catastrophe bond, also known as a cat bond, based on the level of a storm surge. First Mutual Transportation Assurance Co., a subsidiary of the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority, is working with a reinsurer in Bermuda that specializes in catastrophe bonds. The bonds have proved so popular that the amount being issued jumped from $125 million to $200 million. MTA stated that they probably could have raised more money, but closed the sale.
According to the recently released draft report, climate change is now increasing the frequency and intensity of severe storms, flooding, droughts, and heat waves, as well as increasing sea level. Some communities prepared decades ago for hurricanes and other disasters, while others are still debating infrastructure changes that could protect their towns and cut down on future disaster recovery costs.