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 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 18.104.22.168)
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 22.214.171.124). 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.
126.96.36.199. 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 188.8.131.52),
increased riverine flooding (Section 184.108.40.206), and extreme
sea-level events (220.127.116.11). 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.