The Australian Green Infrastructure Council stresses that, "Until recently, infrastructure was designed, built and operated on the basis of historical weather records, assuming that the future climate will be the same as in the past. Climate change means that this assumption is no longer valid. Climate change has significant potential to disrupt or damage existing or future infrastructure. There is an overriding case therefore to assess the risk of existing and future infrastructure to climate change and to incorporate measures to address these risks and opportunities within the design, construction and operation stages of infrastructure development."

According to the Department of Climate Change, transport, communications, energy, water, emergency services and social (such as schools and hospitals) infrastructure are vulnerable to the long-term impacts of climate change. Increasing the resilience is an important part of minimising risks to the community and economy.

Adaptation options will need to consider not only impacts on specific infrastructure assets, such as roads and rail, but also the interdependencies of infrastructure as a system. A systems approach is needed to minimise the chances of a cascade of infrastructure failures, particularly during and following extreme weather events.

To maintain affordable service delivery, adaptation for infrastructure will need to be cost effective and innovative. Adaptation policy responses need to recognise that the drivers for decision making are different for operators of private versus public infrastructure.

Further adaptation action for infrastructure may include:

  • identifying critical infrastructure and interdependencies
  • implementing climate risk-assessments for government-owned assets
  • collaborating with private owners and operators to assess risk
  • updating design criteria
  • investing in research and development for climate-resilient materials and design.