Climate change will cost Ontario billions in transportation infrastructure by 2030, says watchdog

When it comes to preparing Ontario’s public transportation infrastructure to withstand a changing climate, it’s a question of short-term pain for long-term gain — or, at least, less pain, says Ontario’s financial watchdog. the province in a new report.

The Ontario Financial Responsibility Office (FAO) estimates that climate change will increase the cost of maintaining the province’s public transportation infrastructure by an average of $1.5 billion a year over the next nine years.

That means an additional $13 billion by 2030 alone to keep Ontario’s roads, rail lines, bridges and other transportation infrastructure running as freeze-thaw cycles, rainfall and extreme heat change.

In the longer term, the report noted that costs will depend on how much the climate changes, but in both medium and high emissions scenarios, it is cheaper to adapt infrastructure proactively than to wait to react.

“Public transportation adaptation would add between $110 billion and $229 billion to infrastructure costs relative to a stable climate scenario by 2100,” he estimated. “While these additional climate-related costs are significant, they are less costly to provincial and municipal governments than not adapting in the long term.”

Of Ontario’s $330 billion in public transportation infrastructure, 82 percent is owned by municipalities, while the province owns the other 18 percent.

“Given the long lifespan of public transport infrastructure, turn-of-the-century climate conditions are relevant to adaptation decisions being made now,” the report noted. “These decisions will affect public infrastructure costs now and throughout the century.”

The extent to which the province needs to adapt to climate change is considerable, according to the report. For example, Ontario had an average of four days a year when the mercury exceeded 30°C between 1976 and 2005. That is projected to be 34 days a year between 2071 and 2100.

Peter Tabuns, acting leader of the official opposition NDP, said in a statement that Ontarians are already paying for the climate crisis through clean-up bills for floods, tornadoes and damaged property and that costs will rise if the province does not invest. in adapting. infrastructure.

“[Premier] Doug Ford’s crusade against the environment is deepening the climate crisis, which will cost us a fortune,” Tabuns said.

When it comes to preparing Ontario’s public transportation infrastructure to withstand climate change, the province’s financial watchdog says in a new report, it’s a matter of short-term pain for long-term gain, or, at less, less pain.

“We cannot continue to waste time slacking off on meaningful climate action. The longer Ontario takes the climate crisis seriously, the more the province will pay for the consequences,” he added, calling on the government to commit to adapting infrastructure.

Ontario Green Party leader Mike Schreiner, whose request prompted the FAO report, said in a statement that he hopes the money, if it doesn’t “do the right thing,” will make the government act.

“It is morally and fiscally irresponsible for the Ford government to refuse to address or adapt to climate change in any meaningful way,” Schreiner said. “It will hurt our pocketbooks and our children’s future.”

Phillip Robinson, a spokesman for Environment Minister David Piccini, said Ontario is investing in clean steel, public transportation and electric vehicles. The province has also introduced “nationally targeted measures” such as increasing renewable content in gasoline and is building more roads to reduce idling vehicles stuck in gridlock, he said by email.

Studies by the previous Liberal government suggested that Highway 413 and the Bradford Bypass, two of the Ford government’s major highway projects, would cut travel times by just a few minutes. Other studies postulate that the construction of more and larger highways does not reduce congestion, but simply attracts more vehicles.

“Our government will continue to fight climate change with new initiatives that are flexible to Ontarians’ opportunities, needs and circumstances,” Robinson said.

The report is an installment of FAO’s ongoing report Cost of Climate Change Impacts on Public Infrastructure Project.

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