Critical infrastructure and climate change

Authored by: Suwan Shen

The Routledge Handbook of Urban Resilience

Print publication date:  December  2019
Online publication date:  November  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138583597
eBook ISBN: 9780429506666
Adobe ISBN:


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Critical infrastructure is essential for the economy and society. Damage or disruptions to critical infrastructures could have cascading effects across communities with immeasurable costs. However, past experience shows that urban network infrastructures, such as transportation and wastewater infrastructures, are vulnerable to extreme weather events. This would be most likely to increase with the projected climate change. Sea level rise, in particular, poses significant threats to coastal critical infrastructure. At the same time, socio-technical changes such as decentralization, market liberalization, and technology advancement provide new opportunities and alternatives for the existing critical infrastructure systems. For instance, many small-scale alternatives, decentralized infrastructures (e.g. wastewater, energy, water) have been developed as an alternative or complement to the existing system. How would these trends affect the vulnerability of critical infrastructure to climate change? Under what condition could these efforts contribute to reducing the system vulnerability and ultimately building urban resilience?

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