FAO releases reports on the costs of climate change impacts on public infrastructure

The Financial Accountability Office of Ontario (FAO) released its Costing Climate Change Impacts to Public Infrastructure (CIPI): Buildings report– one of three reports published by the FAO.

The CIPI buildings report assesses the financial impacts of three climate hazards: extreme rainfall, extreme heat, and freeze-thaw cycles on public buildings in Ontario. The report is part of the FAO’s CIPI project, which estimates the costs that certain climate hazards will have on provincial and municipal infrastructure in Ontario.

According to the FAO, Ontario’s provincial and municipal governments currently manage a $254 billion portfolio of buildings and facilities: “Public buildings have long service lives and keeping them in a state of good repair will be expensive. If the climate was stable, this would cost $10 billion per year on average, totalling about $799 billion by 2100.”

However, climate change is leading to more extreme rainfall, more extreme heat, and fewer freeze-thaw cycles in Ontario, and public buildings will require increased operations and maintenance activities and more repair spending to address accelerated deterioration, says the FAO.
Over the remainder of this decade (2022 to 2030), these three climate hazards will add nearly $6 billion to the costs of maintaining public buildings and facilities in a state of good repair. 

Over the 21st century, climate change will continue to increase the costs of maintaining public buildings. In the medium emissions scenario, where global emissions peak in the 2040s then rapidly decline, changes in these climate hazards will increase infrastructure costs by an additional $66 billion over the century, or about $0.8 billion per year on average. In the high emissions scenario, where global emissions continue to grow over the century, the additional costs would instead increase by $116 billion, or by $1.5 billion per year on average. 

The FAO also explored the financial implications of adapting Ontario’s public buildings to withstand these climate hazards and found that broad adaptation strategies would be modestly less costly for provincial and municipal governments than not adapting. They would also have significant but un-costed benefits, such as minimizing the disruption of public services.

Regardless of whether an adaptation strategy is pursued, climate change is materially increasing the cost of maintaining public buildings in Ontario with significant direct impacts on provincial and municipal infrastructure budgets over the rest of the century.

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