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  • Writer's pictureGraham Harris

Viewing the world through a “Climate Lens”: Canada’s ICIP grant funding.

We are living through a time of rapid climate change. As with any system or organism exposed to a changing environment, we need to adapt to thrive.

When it comes to the infrastructure – buildings, water and wastewater treatment, power generation, bridges and so on – that are critical to the functioning of modern society, this means that we need to re-think how we design, evaluate and build these projects.

The Investing in Canada Plan (ICIP) was announced in 2016 and is making $120 billion available over 12 years for investments in Canadian infrastructure. This is being split across 5 investment streams – as shown in the pie chart – and is being administered through bilateral agreements with each province.

One of the interesting innovations about ICIP is the requirement for many projects to complete a Climate Lens assessment. The intent of this assessment process is to encourage designers and project owners to consider their project from a different perspective than they typically do; to view it, as the name suggests, through the lens of climate change.

But what does this mean in practice? Well, a Climate Lens assessment may comprise one or both of two separate assessment pieces:

  1. A GHG Mitigation Assessment (MA) and/or

  2. A Climate Change Resilience Assessment (CCRA).

A GHG Mitigation Assessment requires the project proponent to complete a comprehensive review of the impacts – positive or negative – of the proposed project on climate change. By contrast, a Climate Change Resilience Assessment is concerned with the impacts of climate change on the project. This is illustrated below.

Both assessment components must follow an international best practice framework:

  • The GHG Mitigation Assessment must follow ISO 14064-2 process for GHG project quantification (you can read about this in one of our previous posts here). Emissions and reductions or removals must be classified, quantified and reported on for 2030 and for the entire project’s lifetime, considering both the impact of the project’s construction and subsequent operations and maintenance.

  • The CCRA must follow the ISO 30001 risk management standard and utilize climate projections for the locality in which the project will be built. A systematic assessment of how different elements of the climate and project will interact – for example, increased heating loads impacting building cooling, or increased stormwater runoff impacting water quality – must be completed and, for medium and high-risk items, resilience measures must be identified.

Both of these assessments are intended to arm the project proponent and their design team with information about how their project will interact with the climate: how significant a footprint will the project have? What will be the major sources of emissions? How will a changing climate impact its long-term operation?

With this information, decisions on how to a) reduce the project’s footprint by minimizing emissions and/or maximizing emissions reductions or removals, and b) design in long-term resilience to anticipated changes to our climate, can then be made early in the design process.

The end result of a Climate Lens assessment should therefore be a project that is better for our environment, and better in our environment.

Both components of a Climate Lens assessment must be completed and validated by a qualified assessor. At the time of writing, Firefly GHG Consulting has successfully completed Climate Lens assessments in the areas of high-performance buildings, utility-scale solar PV and battery energy storage systems, and water and wastewater treatment infrastructure. For more information on how we can help you with your Climate Lens assessments, please contact us.

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