Resilient Mobility > Taking Action > Assessing Risk

Assessing Risk

Climate change has the potential to cause significant disruption and damage to transport systems threatening the operator's ability to provide safe and reliable travel and placing additional pressure on maintenance budgets. Timely and informed adaptation actions can significantly reduce climate change impacts and associated costs. To formulate  an effective action plan requires identifying vulnerabilities, assess the risk associated with these and identifying options to reduce the risk.

 

Identification of climate change vulnerabilities

Flooding of Prague metro, 2002 (© UITP)A climate change vulnerability may be a specific asset, e.g. a bridge or culvert; a whole section of road or track; a maintenance activity that cannot be carried out under specific weather conditions; or an impact on the health and safety of travellers and staff. It includes dependencies on other modes and sectors, such as access to depots, stations and control centres and connections with power supplies and telecommunications.

In addition to the severe impacts extreme weather events can cause, the identification of vulnerabilities needs to consider impacts brought about by changes to the average climate, such as the effects on deterioration rates - which can lead to shorter asset life.

 

Assessing and managing climate risk

Assessing the risk of a climate change impact requires evaluating the likelihood of the event occurring and magnitude of the consequences if it does occur. The likelihood of a climate change impact occurring is not only a function of climate projections, but also the location, design and condition of an asset. The economic costs and social consquences are a function of the potential reconstruction costs, the strategic value of the asset, the volume of traffic, the access it supplies to vital services and whether there are viable alternative routes.  

Managing the uncertainties associated with assessing risk, both in terms of the future climate and how an asset will respond, is a vital part of an assessment. These uncertainties are not a barrier to undertaking assessments; however efforts to better understand the future climate and asset thresholds, by transport operators, academic institutions and government departments, are an important part of assessing climate risk.

 

Planning and implementing adaptation actions

Rutted road in Mozambique

Robust risk assessments will inform decision-making on adaptation actions both for existing assets and the planning of future infrastructure. Actions may include a package of engineering solutions, such as elevation of roads, modifications to construction materials and design, and strategic planning and policy actions, such as revisions to maintenance procedures and standards. 

The development of an effective action plan will require prioritisation of actions, supported by cost-benefit analyses, and identification of the support; research, technology and/or finance required to implement the identified actions.

 

Flooding image is © UITP.