Lender’s Guide for considering Climate Risk in Infrastructure Investments

Acclimatise, Climate Finance Advisors (CFA), and Four Twenty Seven have released a new guidance document to increase the climate resilience of large infrastructure investments. The “Lenders’ Guide for Considering Climate Risk in Infrastructure Investments” clearly breaks down the ways in which physical climate risks might affect key financial aspects of prospective infrastructure investments. Ten sub-sectors, including airports, marine ports, gas and oil transport and storage, power transmission and distribution, wind-based power generation, data centres, telecommunications, commercial real estate, healthcare, and sports and entertainment, are analysed and illustrated with topical examples.

This guide provides a framework for questioning how revenues, costs, and assets can be linked to potential project vulnerability arising from climate hazards, such as increasing temperatures or sea-level rise.  A heightened frequency of extreme weather events may lead to more disruptions of infrastructure service delivery resulting in lower revenues and increased expenses. In the United States for example, hurricane damage in 2017 to infrastructure in key economic centres, such as Houston, Texas, exceeded tens of billions of dollars (USD), not to mention losses to revenues and increased operating costs due to recovery efforts.  In addition to the well-known costs from Hurricane Sandy to New York City’s transit infrastructure, that storm also led to 893 flights cancellations and knocked out about 25% of cell towers belonging to all carriers in a coastal area spread over 10 US states, leading to service (and therefore revenue) disruptions for infrastructure assets far beyond New York City. Additionally, incremental changes in climate such as water resource availability or temperatures are also likely to affect the operational and economic performance of infrastructure over time. Reduced precipitation can for instance decrease river flow and negatively impact the operability of hydropower facilities.

The guide also draws attention to the potential opportunities emerging from resilience-oriented investments in infrastructure. Concrete measures, such as replacing copper cables with fibre-optic ones, have proven successful in enhancing the ability of infrastructure to cope with extreme events and increasing revenue for companies who undertook such transformations.