Combat climate change with ecological infrastructure

According to NASA, 16 of the 17 warmest years of record have occurred since 2001. Thus, when climate change occupies a prominent position on the world agenda, almost all countries signed the Agreement on Climate Change. Paris 2015, whose main objective is to maintain the increase of the global average temperature below 2 ° C with respect to pre-industrial levels. However, given the serious effects of global warming that are already being felt, greater resilience to climate change is needed.

The “ecological infrastructure” can help in the efforts to achieve both mitigation and adaptation objectives.

Reduce emissions from infrastructure

For example, facilitating investments in energy-efficient and low-carbon transport solutions can help reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in transportation, which are second highest among the various sectors. In fact, we are already seeing progress. 61% of the universe of bonds related to climate change that reaches USD 895 billion – the Climate Bond Initiative – is destined to projects in ecological transport, such as electric vehicles and public rail infrastructure that is less polluting.

The movement towards sustainability has also been considered in other infrastructure sectors. In particular, buildings need enormous amounts of energy to operate, which contributes to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The projects of ecological buildings aim to reduce the environmental impact of buildings during their useful life, focusing on energy efficiency initiatives, such as smart meters and LED bulbs.

With the development of more climate-friendly technologies, disturbances in the infrastructure sectors that consume large amounts of coal and energy are likely to continue. And as more funding becomes available through initiatives aligned with the Paris Agreement, we can expect more progress in ecological infrastructure by intensifying efforts to mitigate the effects of climate change.

Increase resilience

In addition to mitigation measures, there is also a growing need to face the consequences of climate change. Due to the risk of extreme weather conditions and long-term changes and the variability of meteorological patterns caused by global warming, adaptation projects aim to strengthen the resilience of buildings, critical infrastructure (such as transport) and, mainly, of the communities.

These projects may include new and solid roads and rail lines, or flood defenses in coastal areas to protect them from the impact of storm surges. All these initiatives contribute to taking better care of the communities in the face of climatic disasters or gradual changes in climate. For example, a huge amount of time and resources was spent on rebuilding New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. If there had been a more resilient infrastructure, relief efforts could have been made more quickly and the enormous economic cost to the community could have been avoided.

At COP 23

At the twenty-third Conference of the Parties (COP 23) (i) at theThe United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) , (i) which took place in Bonn in November, highlighted the need for this type of projects to strengthen infrastructure. Climate finance for mitigation and adaptation initiatives was one of the pillars of COP 23: Fiji, which chaired the convention with the support of Germany, issued 100 million Fiji dollars in green bonds (i) – approximately USD 50 million – for climate-related projects, with the assistance of the World Bank Group and the International Finance Corporation(IFC). (i) This bond issue will finance ecological infrastructure, such as resilient schools and hospitals in the face of inclement weather, and defenses for flooding in vulnerable coastal and riparian zones. All these works aim to protect the citizens of Fiji from the effects of global warming. Fiji is the first developing country to issue a sovereign green bond, and is one of many in a growing market of green bonds worth around USD 220 billion.

In short, the advantages of ecological infrastructure projects are dual: they can mitigate the production of GHG emissions and also provide greater resilience to the effects of global warming. And, in doing so, they can bring communities and economies together in their efforts to find common strategies to combat climate change.