The Regional Impacts of Climate Change

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The transportation industry has long time frames for investment, is very sensitive to weather, and may be affected by climate change in various ways (IPCC 1996, WG II, Section 11.4.4). Any changes in production systems, such as in agriculture and mining, would alter the patterns of demand for transport services. Higher temperatures would reduce maximum takeoff payloads for aircraft and increase problems with buckling of railway lines and melting or softening of road tar surfaces-but also would reduce the risks of winter snow and ice on roads. Any changes in winds at flight levels would affect aircraft operations and economics. More intense rainfalls would cause more frequent landslides and blockages to rail and road routes and might increase flooding impacts on airports, roads, rail tracks, and bridges. Any increase in storm frequency or intensity would negatively affect all transport operations, especially shipping and airways.

Australia and New Zealand are particularly dependent on efficient, reliable transport within their relatively sparse domestic markets and for international trade. Impacts on transport services therefore could affect tourism and exports, in addition to the direct effects on transport safety and costs.

Because virtually all transport services are fossil fuel-driven, CO2 emission management will result in further impacts on the industry. A detailed consideration of Australia's options with respect to transport and climate change mitigation (BTCE, 1996) noted several "no regrets" strategies that would have benefits for air quality and urban congestion. Adaptation to the potential direct impacts of climate change could be dealt with similarly through normal engineering design and operations responses, but some residual vulnerability may remain. Tourism

Tourism is the fastest-growing sector of world trade, and Australasia's share of this rising market has been increasing. It represents the most important economic use of the region's landscape, biodiversity, and climate-ahead of agriculture (it was worth about US$40 billion in 1995-96). The industry is vulnerable to climate change in several ways. Coastal resorts, particularly buildings and infrastructure, may be vulnerable to sea-level rise and changes in storm surge magnitude and frequency, as well as consequential changes in beach extent. Ski resorts could be adversely affected (see Section by shorter snow seasons and an increased need for artificial snow, and resorts on the Queensland coast may be affected by any damaging impacts on the Great Barrier Reef from coral bleaching or any increased damage from tropical cyclones or riverine runoff (see Section On the other hand, moderate rates of sea-level rise could invigorate coral reef growth, increasing the reefs' attractiveness.

Changes also could occur in the prevalence of insect pests and vector-borne diseases, affecting tourist health and comfort and resulting in stricter quarantine precautions. Human comfort also may change adversely, particularly by warmer and possibly more humid conditions, including the number of days of rain, and the length of the monsoon and tropical cyclone seasons in northern Australia. Any increase in heat and humidity discomfort would increase the demands for air conditioning at resorts and could lead to a shift of demand away from tropical resorts to cooler locations such as Tasmania or the South Island of New Zealand. Adaptation and Vulnerability

A wide range of potential "direct" climatic impacts on settlements and industry, largely located in urban areas, has been identified in this section. Several other vulnerabilities have been identified elsewhere in this chapter-notably, possible increased exposure to fires in the urban fringes (Section, increased riverine flooding (Section, and extreme sea-level events ( The potential additional cost of these "natural disaster" events attributable to climate change is very difficult to quantify at present, but it may be very large, and the possibility heightens the need for effective current planning, zoning, and engineering standards and for improved disaster management.

Most of the direct impacts identified here are relatively small compared to other economic influences, and their likely slow development would allow adaptation through normal processes of planning, management, and engineering design. However, the sectors involved (e.g., energy, mining, transport, tourism, and insurance) are very large; therefore, small fractional impacts and small adaptation responses could represent substantial total losses and costs. On this basis, a moderate degree of vulnerability is present.

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