A recent analysis by the World Bank group found startling facts on the relationship between infrastructure and climate change. In an article which advocates for low-carbon infrastructure, the analysis estimates that approximately 70% of greenhouse gas emissions as are the result of activities in infrastructure industry such as construction and operations in buildings, power plants, transport and related sectors.
Further, the World Health organization estimates that currently, 150,000 people die annually as a result of harmful effects from emissions by the infrastructure industry, a figure that is expected to increase to 250,000 per year by 2030 while the direct damage costs to health by climate change are expected to cost $2-4 billion a year by 2030.
With regards to poverty, the Overseas Development Institute estimates that 720 million could be pushed back into poverty due to the impacts of climate change by the year 2050. This is critical because poor people have no particular history of resilience towards hunger, disease and other fatal agents that could lead to death.
The dilemma resides in the fact that infrastructure is the backbone of economic development especially in emerging and developing economies. Thus, the notion of building less infrastructure is grossly inconceivable. The question arises on what developing countries, since they are the most infrastructure intensive economies, should do.
The answer, according to World Bank is to look neither left nor right but straight forward to low-carbon infrastructure. According to the World Bank, low-carbon infrastructure mechanisms generate lower carbon emissions and makes the vulnerable countries more resilient towards the effects of climate change.
Some key infrastructure areas where low-carbon infrastructure can be of great advantage include railway infrastructure where it can reduce the number of carbon emitting trucks, urban transport projects aimed at reducing the need for cars which are one of the biggest source of urban emissions, and renewable energy technologies such as solar and wind which are environmentally friendly.
The need for clean energy particularly is an important aspect of defending developing countries against the effects of climate change since most of these countries require a lot of investment in energy infrastructure to grow.
Over the past years, increased awareness has prompted governments and private institutions to throw their weight behind the fight against climate change. There is an increasing shift in resource allocation from traditional carbon emitting industries towards low-carbon alternatives.
Not a bad way to drive change and save lives, although similar efforts are required at a greater scale than is currently happening.