Organisational uptake of scientific information
about climate change by infrastructure managers: the case
of adaptation of the French railway company
Received: 16 January 2017 /Accepted: 15 June 2017 /Published online: 15 July 2017
Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2017
Abstract Future development and renewal of transport infrastructures have to take into account
how the effects of climate change will affect these complex sociotechnical systems. This article
aims at understanding how to raise this issue to ensure an efficient and systemic uptake of climate
change by infrastructure managers. It reports the results of an in-depth case study conducted on the
French railway company. This study identifies several adaptation dynamics: one is top-down and
stems from climate change impacts; others are more bottom-up and focused on vulnerabilities.
However, both types of approaches have, so far, yielded limited results. Building on the existing
literature, this paper reveals critical bottlenecks to overcome in order to get the organization ready
to adapt. It suggests key components of an enabling framework for a more proactive preparation to
climate change and mainstreaming climate adaptation into major organisational decisions.
In a context of climate change, the development and renewal of infrastructures is a critical
challenge (European Commission 2013; Chappin and van der Lei 2014;Larrivéeetal.2015;
Stecker et al. 2011;Masoodetal.2016;OECD2015; Forzieroi et al. 2015; ToPDAd 2014). In
the coming years, thousand billions of euros will have to be invested in transport, energy, water
and telecommunication networks to preserve the connectivity, the efficiency and the resilience
of the economies (The new climate economy 2014; Dobbs et al. 2013; Vallejo and Mullan
Those infrastructures will have lifetime expectancies of several decades and will
therefore be exposed to the impacts of climate change.
Climatic Change (2017) 143:473–486
Mc Kinsey Global Institute estimates global infrastructures needs between $2.5 (current expenses) and 3.3
trillion per year—40% in developed countries.
* Vivian Dépoues
I4CE – Institute for Climate Economics, 24 Avenue Marceau, 75008 Paris, France
CEARC, OVSQ, University Versailles Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, 11 Boulevard d’Alembert,
78280 Guyancourt, France