Backgrounder: Applying a Climate Lens to Infrastructure Projects 

Backgrounder

As part of the Investing in Canada plan, applicants seeking federal funding for new major public infrastructure projects will now be asked to undertake an assessment of how their projects will contribute to or reduce carbon pollution, and to consider climate change risks in the location, design, and planned operation of projects.

The Climate Lens will help infrastructure owners design better projects by assessing their opportunities to reduce carbon pollution and identify when they should be adapting project design to better withstand impacts of climate change (e.g. severe weather, floods, sea-level rise, etc.). A General Guidance document has been prepared to explain the required approach, define the scope of the assessment, and identify the specific information that must be submitted to Infrastructure Canada.  

At the planning and design stage, project applicants will now need to assess whether their projects will increase or decrease greenhouse gas emissions. As a second component, they will need to consider ways to incorporate structural or system changes that will help their new infrastructure withstand the potential impacts of climate change and continue to perform reliably. Over time, the goal is to have climate change considerations become a core part of Canada’s infrastructure planning.

The Climate Lens assessment is a requirement of the Investing in Canada plan bilateral agreements being signed between Infrastructure Canada and the provinces and territories. It will apply to projects with a total estimated cost of over $10 million, as well as any project that deals with climate change resilience or greenhouse gas mitigation. The Lens also applies to all projects under the recently launched Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund and certain Smart Cities Challenge winning proposals.

The Climate Lens encourages improved choices by project planners consistent with shared federal, provincial and territorial objectives in the Pan-Canadian Framework for Clean Growth and Climate Change.

The table below identifies the various programs, and streams to which the Climate Lens applies, and lists the project value thresholds at which each assessment will be required.

Thresholds for Climate Lens requirements

Programs and Streams GHG Mitigation Assessment Climate Change Resilience Assessment
Investing in Canada plan (Infrastructure Canada Bilateral Agreements)
Green Infrastructure – Climate Change Mitigation sub-stream All projects (Demonstrates alignment with sub-stream outcome)

If total eligible project costs are $10M or greater
Green Infrastructure – Adaptation, Resilience and Disaster Mitigation sub-stream If total eligible project costs are $10M or greater All projects (Demonstrates alignment with sub-stream outcome)
Other streams and Sub-streams (Environmental Quality, Public Transit, Community Culture and Recreation, Rural and Northern Communities)

If total eligible project costs are $10M or greater If total eligible project costs are $10M or greater
National Programs
Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund All projects All projects
Smart Cities Challenge (Winning Proposals) If total eligible project costs are $10M or greater and project is a climate change mitigation project If total eligible project costs are $10M or greater and project is a climate change adaptation, resilience or disaster mitigation project

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