Quantifying the Cost of Climate Change Impacts


Australias 560 Local Government authorities are responsible for the management of assets valued at approximately $300 billion. Many of these assets have a lifespan greater than 50 years and so will be affected by long-term shifts in the climate. The Local Government Association of South Australia (LGA SA) Mutual Liability Scheme (MLS) conducted a climate change risk assessment that identified roads as a major asset vulnerable to climate change risk.

The maintenance and replacement of hard infrastructure by Local Government has been guided by the principles, models and tools provided in the International Infrastructure Management Manual developed by Institute of Public Works Engineering Australia in conjunction with Councils, engineers and manufacturers of various components and materials. However, these tools do not incorporate climate change impacts or calculate the likely flow-on effects to asset maintenance and repair or financial management and so Local Governments have been limited in their capacity to estimate these changes.

Ten Councils across South Australia, Victoria, Western Australia, and Tasmania collaborated to research and develop asset management tools for use by Local Government practitioners to incorporate the impacts of climate change on Council assets and infrastructure into corporate, asset and strategic planning processes.

Risks and Impacts Addressed 

Impacts from changes to median temperature and rainfall on road assets (hotmix/asphalt, spray sealed and unsealed roads).

Drivers for Adaptation Action 
  • The LGA SA MLS identification of climate change impacts and risks to Council infrastructure, end user requests for climate change decision support tools for asset management.
  • The availability of NCCARF funding assisted in conducting the applied research.
  • No specific date or event led to adaptation action, just a change that occurred in response to the MLS report and the end users request for data led to expression of interest for funding.
Outcomes Achieved 

Final project report

Financial simulation model that quantitatively calculates the impact of changes in temperature and rainfall on the useful life and maintenance costs for three major road types (hotmix/asphalt, spray sealed, unsealed).