An article on the Economist says that ports around the world are vulnerable to extreme events like strong winds, storms, and hurricanes because, by nature, port infrastructure is exposed to the elements.
Because ports are entry points for global trade handling about 80% of the world’s goods, damages to ports infrastructure and assets have far-reaching consequences the article says.
The article gives some recent examples of port damages due to extreme events. For instance, the strong gale winds that ripped the dock walls of Milwaukee port has disrupted its trading routes; Hurricane Katrina closed three ports affecting the distribution of the US’ agricultural goods resulting to higher food prices.
Another study modelled the impacts of flooding in the port of Rotterdam Netherlands. The result showed that the effects of flooding would increase the trading costs to go up to 86%, excluding the cost of damages to assets and infrastructure.
These examples highlight the importance of making ports more resilient the effects of climate change and its consequences on global trade and more specifically on our food and necessary supplies if nothing is done about it.
While wealthy counties have built defences around their ports, the majority of ports around the world are ill-prepared and ageing infrastructure is one of the most common problems, the article says.
A survey asked 67 ports if they had performed the following: climate-risk assessments, installed early warning systems, or made contingency plans.
Only 15% of the ports had done all three, and one in 5 ports did not do anything at all. A reason why ports fail to do something to improve resilience is that it is not clear who should be responsible for this action, the article says.
Click the link to read the Economist article:
European ports are also at risk to climate change, particularly sea-level rise, extreme weather conditions, and erosions. A position paper have been published highlighting the need for climate change adaptation in ports due to increasing vulnerabilities to climate change.
The European Sea Ports Organization (ESPO) expressed the need for adaptation measures to be implemented on their ports, such as (1) Mainstream climate change adaptation into EU legislation and financial instrument, (2) strengthen funding for infrastructure adaptation and investment, (3) invest in data-driven climate-proofing guidelines and (4) recognize ports as critical infrastructure.
Click on the link, to read the position paper: