Ports will need to double or quadruple in size by 2050, climate study says
will need to double or quadruple in size by 2050 to cope with the combination
of sea-level rise and increased freight demand, according to a model that
compares trade growth and port demand with various combinations of climate
policy interventions and global temperature increases.
The cost of building that new port capacity could reach $768 billion
says the study
Under the scenario
with minimal greenhouse gas restrictions and maximum trade growth, the cost of
building that new port capacity could reach $768 billion, compared to $223
billion for a scenario with the greatest climate intervention and the least
freight growth, according to the study, “Demand for Ports to 2050: Climate
Policy, Growing Trade, and the Impacts of Sea‐Level Rise.”
Either way, the
investment would dwarf the costs of adapting to sea level rise, which means
that incorporating climate adaptation strategies into new construction is a
relatively low-cost means to prevent future disruption from the effects of
climate change, according to the study’s authors, Susan E. Hanson and Robert J.
The report was published in July in Earth’s Future
The report was
published in July in Earth’s Future, a peer-reviewed scientific journal
focusing on climate change and future sustainability. It was funded by the UK
Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and relied on research
performed at the Tyndall Centre, University of Manchester, and UCL London.
“Over the coming
decades, the type and amount of trade carried by sea will change, influenced by
climate policy as well as other economic factors. Hanson and Nicholls wrote.
Global freight demand could increase between three‐ and seven‐fold by
According to the
study, recent trade scenarios suggest that global freight demand could increase
between three‐ and seven‐fold by 2050, leading to a 73% global increase in the
number of containers moved to at least 2.2 billion per year over the same
period. Under that pressure, It has been estimated that port capacity will not
be adequate to meet demand as early as 2030.
Climate‐related extremes and trends impact on ports
The study found
that climate‐related extremes and trends have important implications for ports
in terms of thei global freight demand could increase between three‐ and
seven‐fold by 2050r functionality, navigable water, and shelter from wind and
waves. Those implications were clear to see in the physical and economic
consequences of extreme events such as Hurricanes Sandy and Katrina, which
triggered significant port closures and recovery durations.
Exploring the potential impact of climate policy beneficial over both
the short and long‐term
existing infrastructure and planning and construction of new ports is
time‐consuming and will require significant capital investment…exploring the
potential impact of climate policy is beneficial over both the short and