Climate change effect on public transportation infrastructure to cost billions: FAO

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Ontario's financial watchdog says the effects of climate change are projected to cost the province an extra $1.5 billion a year on average in the next few years just to maintain public transportation infrastructure.

A report released today by the Financial Accountability Office says that over the next nine years, maintaining that infrastructure would have cost $11 billion a year if the climate was stable, but climate-related costs will push it to about $13 billion by 2030.

The report says that over the long term, if global emissions peak by mid-century, climate hazards will increase infrastructure costs by $2.2 billion a year on average, without any climate adaptation, and if emissions instead continue rising beyond 2050, those costs will increase by $4.1 billion a year on average.

The FAO says that adapting transportation infrastructure to withstand extreme rainfall, extreme heat and freeze-thaw cycles would be much less expensive.

The report says that adaptation would add between $1.4 billion and $2.9 billion a year between now and the year 2100.

The FAO says the roads, bridges, large structural culverts and rail tracks owned by Ontario's municipal and provincial governments are valued at $330 billion, with most of them owned by the municipalities.