Climate change risk

Providing society with the tools to assess and manage climate change risk
We're developing new approaches to the assessment of the risk posed by climate change to the built environment.

The private capital markets must actively engage in the transition to a net-zero world, and investors in new assets on the road to net zero will need a firm understanding of the risks to businesses posed by climate change.

The ability to predict future risk can determine the value of actions taken today. For this reason, tools that quantify the impact of future risks are the basis on which insurance premiums are determined to cover a risk that may occur in one month, one year, one decade, or several decades.

However, locked-in climate change and non-stationarity introduces new factors that undermine risk management. They define a world with climate impacts that we will not be able to quantify using existing tools. This challenge is now clearly acknowledged by the investment community. In certain geographical locations, the impact of a changing climate is observable in ecosystems. Agriculture faces shifts in crop yields, planting times, and increased irrigation needs. Native flora experience habitat loss and the migration of pests and diseases. For extensive forest ecosystems, drying signals, exemplified in places like Australia and California, lead to excessive fuel loads (dry trees) and the emergence of extreme fire risk.

Research projects

There is a growing concern over the rise in disturbances such as the climate crisis, biodiversity loss, social inequalities, political conflicts, pandemics, and other disasters. Societies and businesses are being affected at an unprecedented rate, and their survival will continuously require well-organised responses and protective measures to offset impacts and build resilience.

Projects serve as effective means to organise resources and actions reactively and proactively. However, emerging disturbances are highly complex, can accelerate quickly, and often occur on unparalleled scales, posing unique challenges to project design.

Our research aims to initiate the paradigm shift for project planning and execution in the face of such grand challenges. It complements research on the role of organisations in climate crisis, and explores the complexities of decision-making in project conceptualisation, scoping, finance, delivery, and benefit realisation in the context of disturbances.

Lead: Associate Professor Nader Naderpajouh

Team: Dr Aysu Kuru, Professor Christopher Wright, Dr Mahshid Tootoonchy

Research themes:

  • Does climate change affect ocular surface health, in particular dry eye? The most recent review on effect of environment to ocular health implied that climate change (in particularly humidity) could increase the risk of dry eye. Our research aims to validate if climate change increases the risk of dry eye, and once the link is validated, to generate adaptive strategies to prevent the worsening of dry eye due to climate change.

  • Reducing CO2 emission in the medical/biological laboratory setting to develop a “green” laboratory. We are mathematically analysing cell culturing processes that require CO2 to produce a model to estimate the net CO2 emission for cell culture. This will be used to identify aspects that can be improved with existing technique such as adapting circular CO2 technology to reach net zero for these procedures; and to identify aspects that cannot, which will lead to development of novel technology.

  • Reducing CO2 emission in the clinical environment. Our research focusses on emissions associated with surgical procedures including direct emissions of anaesthetic gases and CO2, emissions relating to energy use and indirect emissions such as those associated with instrument manufacture, transport and waste management. We are generating a specific model for common surgical procedures and will examine how to reduce emissions using existing/emerging techniques with consideration to clinical regulations and working conditions.

Research themes:

  • Climate resilient water management: we are researching solutions to make drinking water supplies resilient to extreme weather events including fires, floods, droughts, heatwaves, and wind.

  • Energy efficient water systems: optimisation of low-energy solutions for drinking water and wastewater treatment. 

  • Reducing fugitive greenhouse emissions from wastewater treatment: adjusting wastewater treatment processes to minimise production and release of fugitive greenhouses gasses including CO2, CH4 and N2O.

The building sector is responsible for 37% of carbon emissions globally and one-fifth of emissions in Australia. Assessing and minimising the risks and impacts of buildings to climate change requires both economy and property-level solutions for adaptation, mitigation, resilience and regeneration.

We are developing strategies, solutions and technologies for the decarbonisation of the building sector to enable a transition towards net zero energy and carbon buildings. 

Lead: Dr Aysu Kuru

Team: Dr Ozgur Gocer, Associate Professor Nader Naderpajouh, Dr Alastair Fraser