Greener anti-flood investments will be win-winIf climate change is a shark, then water is its teeth. That became clear after deadly flooding in ...Greener anti-flood investments will be win-win
If climate change is a shark, then water is its teeth. That became clear after deadly flooding in parts of Germany and China this month – and a less intense deluge in London – inundated everything from mines to subways and took hydropower stations offline. The calamity prompted calls to build more dams and reservoirs, including from German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s presumed successor, Armin Laschet. But there are smarter alternatives.
Traditional infrastructure, like dams, may not cope with extreme rainfall. The government of New South Wales in Australia wants to raise the walls of the Warragamba dam near Sydney, yet floods earlier this year would have breached even those. Such structures also create a false sense of security, meaning more residents and businesses move into floodplains.
Some 2 billion people already live in areas prone to freshwater inundation, according to The Nature Conservancy, and a quarter of the world’s cropland – as much as 45% in India and 31% in China – is located in such sites. Rising global temperatures increase the likelihood of more intense storms. Yet fewer than a fifth of 800 cities surveyed by climate-finance non-profit CDP have undertaken flood mapping.
Technology can be deployed to better assess where flooding may occur. This is partly what prompted $66 billion Autodesk (ADSK.O) to pay $1 billion earlier this year for water infrastructure software provider Innovyze, whose data would be useful for businesses, governments, investors and insurers. Reconstruction costs in Germany, for instance, could run to tens of billions of euros, according to Finance Minister Olaf Scholz.