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Past performance and future needs for low carbon climate resilient infrastructure– An investment perspective


  • Kennedy, Christopher
  • Corfee-Morlot, Jan


This article explores the investment implications of moving to low-carbon, climate-resilient infrastructure. It begins with analysis of gross fixed capital formation and decarbonisation trends to examine past performance of OECD countries in reducing GHG emissions from 1997 to 2007. Many OECD countries made progress in decoupling GHG emissions from infrastructure investment in residential buildings, and to a lesser extent from power and industry, but increased efforts are required, especially in the transportation sector. The analysis highlights the need to accelerate the pace and scale of change to reverse GHG emission trends to bring into reach ambitious climate policy goals. It then assesses future global infrastructure needs under low-carbon and business-as-usual (BAU) global warming scenarios, and the incremental costs of going “low-carbon” are estimated to be small relative to the magnitude of the BAU infrastructure investment needs. Global infrastructure needs for 2015–2020, including buildings and transportation vehicles, are approximately 6.7 trillion USD/year under BAU. Incremental costs of low-carbon infrastructure are of the order −70 to +450 billion USD/year. Achieving climate resilient infrastructure may add costs, but there is potentially synergistic overlap with low-carbon attributes. Although estimates are incomplete, the technical and financial inter-dependency between infrastructure systems suggests the potential to generate infrastructure investment to support a “virtuous cycle” of low-carbon growth.

Suggested Citation

  • Kennedy, Christopher & Corfee-Morlot, Jan, 2013. "Past performance and future needs for low carbon climate resilient infrastructure– An investment perspective," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 59(C), pages 773-783.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:enepol:v:59:y:2013:i:c:p:773-783
    DOI: 10.1016/j.enpol.2013.04.031

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Shardul Agrawala & Maëlis Carraro & Nicholas Kingsmill & Elisa Lanzi & Michael Mullan & Guillaume Prudent-Richard, 2011. "Private Sector Engagement in Adaptation to Climate Change: Approaches to Managing Climate Risks," OECD Environment Working Papers 39, OECD Publishing.
    2. Vincent Viguie & Stéphane Hallegatte, 2012. "Trade-offs and synergies in urban climate policies," Post-Print hal-00716121, HAL.
    3. Stéphane Hallegatte & Nicola Ranger & Olivier Mestre & Patrice Dumas & Jan Corfee-Morlot & Celine Herweijer & Robert Wood, 2011. "Assessing climate change impacts, sea level rise and storm surge risk in port cities: a case study on Copenhagen," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 104(1), pages 113-137, January.
    4. Olaf Merk & Stéphane Saussier & Carine Staropoli & Enid Slack & Jay-Hyung Kim, 2012. "Financing Green Urban Infrastructure," OECD Regional Development Working Papers 2012/10, OECD Publishing.
    5. Susanne Moser, 2012. "Adaptation, mitigation, and their disharmonious discontents: an essay," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 111(2), pages 165-175, March.
    6. Douglas Sutherland & Sonia Araujo & Balázs Égert & Tomasz Koźluk, 2009. "Infrastructure Investment: Links to Growth and the Role of Public Policies," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 686, OECD Publishing.
    7. Raffaele Della Croce & Christopher Kaminker & Fiona Stewart, 2011. "The Role of Pension Funds in Financing Green Growth Initiatives," OECD Working Papers on Finance, Insurance and Private Pensions 10, OECD Publishing.
    8. Dittrich, Monika & Bringezu, Stefan, 2010. "The physical dimension of international trade: Part 1: Direct global flows between 1962 and 2005," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(9), pages 1838-1847, July.
    9. World Bank, 2012. "Inclusive Green Growth : The Pathway to Sustainable Development," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 6058.
    10. Susan Hanson & Robert Nicholls & N. Ranger & S. Hallegatte & J. Corfee-Morlot & C. Herweijer & J. Chateau, 2011. "A global ranking of port cities with high exposure to climate extremes," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 104(1), pages 89-111, January.
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    Cited by:

    1. Kennedy, Chris & Stewart, Iain D. & Facchini, Angelo & Mele, Renata, 2017. "The role of utilities in developing low carbon, electric megacities," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 106(C), pages 122-128.
    2. Vieira, Abel S. & Beal, Cara D. & Ghisi, Enedir & Stewart, Rodney A., 2014. "Energy intensity of rainwater harvesting systems: A review," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 34(C), pages 225-242.
    3. Mendel Giezen, 2018. "Shifting Infrastructure Landscapes in a Circular Economy: An Institutional Work Analysis of the Water and Energy Sector," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 10(10), pages 1-17, September.
    4. Bundhoo, Zumar M.A. & Shah, Kalim U. & Surroop, Dinesh, 2018. "Climate proofing island energy infrastructure systems: Framing resilience based policy interventions," Utilities Policy, Elsevier, vol. 55(C), pages 41-51.
    5. Sharifi, Ayyoob & Yamagata, Yoshiki, 2016. "Principles and criteria for assessing urban energy resilience: A literature review," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 60(C), pages 1654-1677.
    6. Floater, Graham & Rode, Philipp & Robert, Alexis & Kennedy, Chris & Hoornweg, Dan & Slavcheva, Roxana & Godfrey, Nick, 2014. "Cities and the New Climate Economy: the transformative role of global urban growth," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 60775, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    7. Xiangsheng Dou & Huanying Cui, 2017. "Low-carbon society creation and socio-economic structural transition in China," Environment, Development and Sustainability: A Multidisciplinary Approach to the Theory and Practice of Sustainable Development, Springer, vol. 19(5), pages 1577-1599, October.
    8. Facchini, Angelo & Kennedy, Chris & Stewart, Iain & Mele, Renata, 2017. "The energy metabolism of megacities," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 186(P2), pages 86-95.


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