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Climate change could cause a billion francs of infrastructure damage a year in Switzerland

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Climate change could soon cost Switzerland up to a billion francs a year in damage to infrastructure, according to an estimate by Switzerland’s Federal Department of the Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications (DETEC). © Stefano Ember | Dreamstime.comBetween now and 2050, higher temperatures and irregular rainfall could reduce the amount of electricity produced by Switzerland’s hydroelectric infrastructure by several hundred million francs a year, according to Christian Jaag, an expert advising the government. In addition, heavy rain, floods and subsidence could cause hundreds of millions of francs of damage to roads and rail infrastructure every year. Furthermore, extreme heat could lead to a need to build more heat resistant roads and regularly run trains at lower

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Climate change could soon cost Switzerland up to a billion francs a year in damage to infrastructure, according to an estimate by Switzerland’s Federal Department of the Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications (DETEC).

Climate change could cause a billion francs of annual infrastructure damage in Switzerland
© Stefano Ember | Dreamstime.com

Between now and 2050, higher temperatures and irregular rainfall could reduce the amount of electricity produced by Switzerland’s hydroelectric infrastructure by several hundred million francs a year, according to Christian Jaag, an expert advising the government.

In addition, heavy rain, floods and subsidence could cause hundreds of millions of francs of damage to roads and rail infrastructure every year.

Furthermore, extreme heat could lead to a need to build more heat resistant roads and regularly run trains at lower speeds, as occurred this summer. Slowing down trains has a negative impact on the economy.

In July 2019, rail temperatures in Switzerland went as high as 70 degrees Celsius in some places. The heat causes rails to expand and in some cases buckle. In most cases the expansion is absorbed by the sleepers and gravel, but not always, causing rails to buckle. Most tracks remain usable when buckling occurs, however trains must be slowed down for safety reasons.

According to Jaag, between now and 2050 climate change costs relating to infrastructure in Switzerland could total CHF 1 billion a year. At the same time he stressed that these estimates are subject to error owing to gaps in our knowledge.

More on this:
DETEC press release (in French) – Take a 5 minute French test now

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