The project was based on consolidation and analysis of earlier and existing research work, as well as application of existing climate change and hydrological assessment tools for evaluation of climate change effects on the transport network, in particular on the inland waterway transport network. The development of new models is excluded from the study. During the project, cooperation and exchange of information was foreseen with other FP7 projects, especially EWENT and WEATHER. These projects also focussed on the effects of extreme weather conditions on transport modes, but did not focus in particular on the inland waterway transport mode.
The objective was to gather the expertise of partners from different fields related to meteorology, hydrology, infrastructure operation, transportation and economics to assess the effect of climate change on the transport network, taking the inland waterway network as a case-study.
As a result, ECCONET set out to establish policy guidelines and a development plan for inland waterway transport. This provides targeted input to the European inland waterway transport infrastructure development plan to be elaborated within FP7's PLATINA project. ECCONET disseminated project results in various workshops.
The project initially evaluated recent climate change scenarios, leading to predictions on the weather conditions in the future. Naturally, these may result in changes of the hydrological balance of the inland waterway network, being either associated with less ice formation and more balanced waterway conditions over the year or extreme situations such as prolonged low water periods or floods, depending on the region considered. The next step of the project is to evaluate the effect of these changes on the costs and reliability associated with inland waterway transport and other transport, which might lead to changes in transport flows. These calculations form the basis of a baseline scenario, assuming little or no deviation in policy related to inland waterway transport or other transport modes. In parallel with the evaluation of the service quality of the baseline scenario, proper adaptation strategies for coping with possible climate change effects on inland waterway transport are identified and assessed.
It is expected that these measures will improve the service quality of inland waterway transport even in the case of a changing climate. Final results contain projections of service quality, flows on the inland waterway network under climate change conditions, as well as cost-benefit assessments of possible adaptation strategies. The project provides essential information for decision makers and guidelines for future research on climate change and inland waterway transport.
The main results of the ECCONET project are an impact analysis related to the climate change and a strategic framework, bundling concrete adaptation measures and policy guidelines, for a continued development of the inland waterway transport mode.
The following Policy recommendations apply:
- Continued observation of climate change and its impacts on IWT;
- Prepare and develop adaptation measures with regard to infrastructure and prediction of water level, especially for the second half of the century;
- Support adaptation and modernisation of the fleet for the long-term impacts now;
- Enable waterway administrations to perform state of technology maintenance and river engineering;
- Strengthen permanent communication/cooperation between waterway administrations, hydrological services and vessel operators;
- Enhance the use of 'Smart Waterways' and scope of information available through River Information Services (i.e. water depths on critical sectors);
- Preparation of an incentive scheme for adaptation to climate change effects on IWT;
- Strengthen research to improve innovation and ecological performance of IWT.
Innovating for the future (technology and behaviour): promoting more sustainable development