Climate Lens – Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Climate Lens?
The Climate Lens is a horizontal requirement applicable to Infrastructure Canada's Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program (ICIP), Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund (DMAF) and Smart Cities Challenge.
The Climate Lens has two components: the greenhouse gas (GHG) mitigation assessment, which will measure the anticipated GHG emissions impact of an infrastructure project, and the climate change resilience assessment, which will employ a risk management approach to anticipate, prevent, withstand, respond to, and recover from a climate change related disruption or impact.
The Climate Lens applies to:
- Certain projects funded through FPT integrate bilateral agreements under the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program;
- Projects seeking support under the Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund; and
- Successful climate-related Smart Cities Challenge winners.
Below are the conditions for when one or both of these assessments are applicable:
- the GHG Mitigation Assessment is required for all projects in the Climate Change Mitigation sub-stream,
- the Climate Change Resilience Assessment is required for all projects in the Adaptation, Resilience and Disaster Mitigation sub-stream, and
- Both assessments are required for all projects in all streams with total eligible costs over $10 million.
Under the Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund (DMAF), all projects must submit a GHG Mitigation Assessment. The Climate Change Resilience Assessment is already built into the Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund’s Full Application.
Only winners of the Smart Cities Challenge that have projects with climate related outcomes need to conduct the Climate Lens.
|Programs and Streams||GHG Mitigation Assessment||Climate Change Resilience Assessment||When to submit|
Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program (Integrated Bilateral Agreements)
Green Infrastructure – Climate Change Mitigation sub-stream
All projectsFootnote *
If total eligible project costs are $10M or greater
GHG Mitigation Assessment due at time of application. Climate Change Resilience Assessment due before first federal payment, if required.
Green Infrastructure – Adaptation, Resilience and Disaster Mitigation sub-stream
If total eligible project costs are $10M or greater
Climate Change Resilience Assessment due at time of application. GHG Mitigation Assessment due before first federal payment, if required.
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
Both assessments due before first federal payment.
Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund
The Climate Change Resilience Assessment is built into the DMAF application guide
To be submitted as part of the project application
For DMAF projects, GHG Mitigation assessments are due before first federal payment
Smart Cities Challenge Winners
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
Note that thresholds listed above could be subject to revisions as part of a future update to the Climate Lens guidance.
Projects are to be submitted to Infrastructure Canada via the Infrastructure Recipient Information System (IRIS) digital portal (or equivalent), unless otherwise stated in program guidelines.
At what point in the process should proponents conduct the appropriate Climate Lens assessments?
For projects being funded under the Climate Change Mitigation sub-stream or Adaptation, Resilience and Disaster Mitigation sub-stream of the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program (ICIP), Infrastructure Canada requires that relevant Climate Lens assessments be conducted prior to the project being submitted to Infrastructure Canada for approval. The results of the Climate Lens assessments must be included as part of a project’s application form. This is because for these sub-streams, the results of the Climate Lens assessments help inform project eligibility and outcomes.
For projects outside of these sub-streams, Infrastructure Canada will accept submission of completed Climate Lens assessments after project approval. Completed Climate Lens assessments are still required before the first federal payment.
Where can I find more information on the Climate Lens?
The Climate Lens Guidance document is available online at:
The document explains the expected scope and approach of both Climate Lens assessments, and identifies the specific data and information Infrastructure Canada requires proponents to submit.
Note that this is an evergreen document that will be updated periodically, as appropriate, based on lessons learned, best practices, and evaluation of ongoing and completed assessment activities.
Who covers the costs associated with the Climate Lens?
Should a proponent need to hire outside consultants to conduct Climate Lens assessments, costs of undertaking assessment(s) will be deemed eligible for federal cost-sharing for all projects approved for federal funding.
Costs associated with conducting Climate Lens assessments are retroactively eligible prior to federal approval, but will only be reimbursed if the project is ultimately approved by Infrastructure Canada for funding.
If a proponent is using own-force labour to conduct the Climate Lens assessments, these costs are not eligible for reimbursement.
If a proponent is not required to conduct a Climate Lens assessment but would like to do so, are costs still eligible?
Yes, costs for undertaking a Climate Lens assessment for any approved project where the lens is not a requirement are eligible for cost sharing, unless own-force labour is used.
What happens if an assessment does not follow the Climate Lens General Guidance?
If an assessment is found to be incompatible with the Infrastructure Canada guidance (either at the time of submission, or during a project audit) the project proponent could be asked to rectify the major deficiencies.
GHG Mitigation Assessment
Are all projects meant to demonstrate a reduction in GHG emissions?
Only projects specifically seeking funding under the Green Infrastructure - Climate Change Mitigation sub-stream, are required to demonstrate an overall reduction in emissions. Projects in other streams and sub-streams will not be penalized by Infrastructure Canada for their assessment results, as the overall objective of the Climate Lens is to facilitate climate-smart behavioural change through ensuring more informed decisions at the project planning/design stage
Are GHG mitigation assessments required for the natural infrastructure components of my project?
Given that the methodology for estimating GHG sources and sinks for natural infrastructure projects is still evolving, natural infrastructure components of projects can be excluded from GHG mitigation assessments under the Climate Lens. Projects consisting entirely of natural infrastructure components can apply for an exemption from the GHG mitigation assessment. As the methodology and tools for estimating GHG sources and sinks continues to evolve, INFC may re-evaluate this approach.
What is meant by “significant” indirect emissions in Section 2.2 of the Climate Lens Guidance?
"Significant" indirect emissions are generally subject to the qualified professional’s judgement as it must be determined within the context of the project, that is to say significant relative to other emission sources.
What should be considered a baseline scenario when conducting a new build?
The baseline for new builds should be the ‘status quo’ approach to a given asset. In the case of buildings, this should be based on the energy requirements in the applicable building code and typical construction practices. For example, in the case of a building using a geothermal system, unless geothermal is the jurisdiction’s default approach to heating and cooling, the assessment should capture the geothermal system as the project scenario, and the baseline should capture the more common type of system (e.g., natural gas or electric heating and cooling). Modelling both scenarios allows the proponent to estimate the avoided emissions resulting from this technology choice.
It is expected that qualified professionals will exercise their professional judgement in defining their business-as-usual scenarios and demonstrating the GHG impact of design and technology choices.
What is the cost-per-tonne and when is it required?
The cost-per-tonne calculation measures how much investment is required to reduce GHG emissions by one tonne. These calculations are only required for projects seeking funding under the Climate Change Mitigation sub-stream of the Green Infrastructure stream of the bilateral agreements. Over time, these calculations will help provinces and territories assess the efficiency of their investments under this sub-stream.
Climate Change Resilience Assessment
Does Infrastructure Canada prescribe a specific level of detail (e.g., site specific vs. regional data) for climate data and projections?
A specific level of detail is not prescribed in the General Guidance document. However, both historical climate data and future climate projections (to the year 2100) for a variety of climate variables (e.g., temperature, precipitation, etc.) are available for Canada. It is expected that Climate Change Resilience Assessments meaningfully consider both historical climate data and future climate projections for the most relevant climate variables for the region and/or location of planned infrastructure assets over their anticipated lifetime.
When considering the potential impacts related to climate change, a range of future climate projections from low to high greenhouse gas emissions scenarios should be considered. ECCC provides climate model outputs for three Representative Concentration Pathways (RCPs). These RCPs are a set of greenhouse gas emission scenarios that range from a low emission scenario characterized by active mitigation (RCP 2.6), through intermediate (RCP 4.5), to a high emission scenario (RCP 8.5).
Are there any recommended resources available to access and understand climate data needed for the resilience assessment?
The Climate Lens General Guidance includes a list of resources (Annex H) that can support resilience assessments. This includes assessments of impacts across Canada, tools to assess climate risk, and links to organizations that can provide access to climate data such as the Canadian Centre for Climate Services (CCCS). The CCCS is the Government of Canada’s authoritative source for climate data and information, and provides a variety of tools and resources to help understand climate data, including direct access to climate data experts for guidance through the CCCS Support Desk. The Support Desk can be reached by phone at 1-833-517-0376, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or through the CCCS website.
Annex H of the Climate Lens General Guidance will be updated as these resources are refined over time, including the tools offered through the CCCS.
Is the Return on Investment (ROI) calculation required for all climate change resilience assessments?
The ROI calculation is only required for projects funded under the Adaptation, Resilience and Disaster Mitigation sub-stream of the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program (ICIP) or the Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund (DMAF). These projects are specifically designed to adapt to climate impacts and/or mitigate the risks of natural disasters. Therefore, it is possible to compare the cost of the project to the potential costs incurred from natural disasters if the project did not exist. Generally, the loss estimation analysis and return on mitigation investment analysis at the funding stage for the project as a whole is possible and feasible.
For example, upgrading a dike from current height to height A or to height B or not at all.
Proponents submitting projects in streams other than the Adaptation, Resilience and Disaster Mitigation sub-stream of ICIP or DMAF can provide, if they wish, ROI information. The Return on Mitigation Investment calculations and Loss Estimation Analysis, for new assets or for assets being retrofitted for reasons other than climate risks mitigation (as opposed to assets being upgraded to mitigate climate risks) could be developed at the design stage where design options are being developed and finalized – not at the funding application stage. But, this would be done outside of the Climate Change Resilience Assessments requirements, and the request of the proponent.
What is meant by attestation, in the context of the Climate Lens?
Infrastructure Canada requires that a qualified professional attest that the assessment is consistent with the Climate Lens Guidance. Sample forms for each assessment are provided in the Climate Lens General Guidance document.
Can the qualified professional be part of the same team that conducts the assessment?
The qualified professional can be part of the same team, organization or company that conducts the assessment.
Deferrals and Exemptions
Can a proponent request a deferral for the Climate Lens? How does this process work?
With the exception of mandatory Climate Lens assessments, (those under the Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation, Resilience and Disaster Mitigation streams of the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program (ICIP), the Minister of Infrastructure and Communities has the authority to grant deferrals for Climate Lens assessments on a case-by-case basis, should appropriate justification be provided through the project application form.
Should a deferral be granted, INFC can approve the project with a condition on the first federal payment. The completed Climate Lens assessment will have to be completed prior to the first federal payment being made. The objective of the Climate Lens, which is to meaningfully inform infrastructure planning and decision-making (e.g., asset design, operations and maintenance), must still be met.
Under ICIP, if a proponent believes a deferral is required for its project, they should contact their provincial or territorial representatives who in turn will contact their Program Operations Branch analyst at INFC.
Under DMAF or the Smart Cities Challenge, if a proponent believes a deferral is required for a project, they should contact their Program Operations Branch analyst.
Can a proponent request an exemption to the Climate Lens? How does this process work?
With the exception of mandatory Climate Lens assessments, the Minister of Infrastructure has the authority to grant exemptions for Climate Lens assessments on a case-by-case basis, should appropriate justification be provided.
Under ICIP, if a proponent believes an exemption is required for its project, they should contact their provincial or territorial representatives who in turn will contact their Program Operations Branch analyst at INFC.
Under DMAF or the Smart Cities Challenge, if a proponent believes an exemption is required for a project, they should contact their Program Operations Branch Analyst.
What is the Climate Lens lite referenced in the guidance document and when does it apply?
Infrastructure Canada is developing a streamlined version of the Climate Lens GHG Mitigation Assessment that will reduce the level of effort required to assess emissions in certain projects outside the Climate Change Mitigation sub-stream. The Climate Lite approach will be phased in at a later date.
What is sector specific guidance and how should it be used?
Infrastructure Canada is currently working with federal experts to develop sector-specific guidance for GHG Mitigation assessments. The intent of the guidance is to provide clarity on the requirements of the GHG mitigation assessments for certain sectors and increase the degree of consistency between individual assessments.
At this time no sector-specific guidance has been published. However, while the sector-specific guidance will aim to provide additional detail for certain sectors, it is possible to prepare a Climate Lens assessment referring solely to the Climate Lens General Guidance.
Does INFC have a list of qualified parties that can conduct Climate Lens assessments?
Many large engineering consulting firms have the experience to conduct both assessments under the Climate Lens. However, INFC does not maintain a list of qualified parties that can conduct Climate Lens assessments.
Climate Lens and the Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund (DMAF) and Smart Cities Challenge
Which Climate Lens Assessments are required under the Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund?
The Climate Lens Resilience Assessment has been integrated within the Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund Full Application form. A separate Climate Change Resilience Assessment is not required.
A GHG mitigation assessment is required under the Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund, using the Climate Lens Guidance.
Will the GHG mitigation assessment affect the merit score for projects that apply to the Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund?
Results of the GHG Mitigation Assessment will not be factored into the merit criteria.
Projects with GHG reduction / environmental benefits can indicate this as a Project benefits in the Full Application form. Project benefits is a merit criteria.
Does the Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund have targets for GHG reductions?
The Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund does not have targets for GHG reductions for its projects.
How is the resilience assessment integrated within the Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund application?
The goal of the Climate Lens Resilience Assessment is to require proponents of infrastructure projects, including natural infrastructure projects, to consider the impacts of climate change on their asset and the broader community it serves and consider measures to achieve enhanced resilience to those impacts.
The Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund has a similar and complementary goal of contributing to the resilience of communities to the impacts of climate change through large scale infrastructure projects, including natural infrastructure.
- DMAF requires analysis for one primary hazard of concern to the community of interest, but awards merit for projects addressing multiple climate related hazards.
- DMAF also requires a rigorous hazard risk and resilience assessment for the main hazard(s) of concern to the community. These assessments are consistent with the Climate Lens guiding principles and the ISO 31000 standard on Risk Management.
- The use of reliable scientific data sources is required in DMAF assessment. Indicators, such as the likelihood of a hazard event, will be disqualified if proper citations are not provided. This approach has the potential to affect the merit score significantly, providing incentive for applicants to use credible sources.
- DMAF has also encouraged proponents to take measures to increase the resilience of the asset to the main natural hazard, and has requested a description of these measures in the Full Application form.
Who provides the attestation for the Full Application and the GHG mitigation assessment for the Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund?
Full application: The Full Application needs to be signed electronically by an authorized senior official such as: Chief Financial Officer (CFO), Chief Administrative Officer (CAO), Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Certified Planner, and/or a Certified Engineer.
GHG Assessment: The attestation can be signed by the consultant, since they are certified professionals. There is a template for the attestation on p. 27 (Annex B) of the Climate Lens Guidance
How does the Climate Lens apply to the Smart Cities Challenge?
The Climate Lens only applies to projects related to climate change mitigation and climate change adaptation.
If a winner of the Smart Cities Challenge has GHG mitigation or climate change adaptation outcomes, it must conduct the relevant Climate Lens assessment(s).
- Footnote *
Electricity projects that have already completed a GHG emissions assessment for Natural Resources Canada as part of the Regional Electricity Cooperation and Strategic Infrastructure (RECSI) initiative are not required to complete a second assessment and may submit the existing report to satisfy the Climate Lens GHG Mitigation assessments requirement, provided that the electricity projects submitted for consideration to INFC projects have not been modified to the extent that GHG emissions estimates are significantly altered. In the case that the GHG emissions estimates are significantly altered, updates to the existing report will be required.
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