Impacts on imports to the island and the safe movement of goods at sea

Key drivers
Sea-level rise
Extreme events
What has happened

Imports and exports are heavily dependent on weather, as all shipping must transit Pitcairn Island’s harbours. Imports to Pitcairn Island decreased from US$3.47 million in 2013 to US$2.19 million in 2018. The cause of this decrease is uncertain but likely a combination of an ageing population and reduced access due to weather. Due to the increasing unpredictability of weather under a changing climate, a second harbour has been constructed to improve the resilience of the island by ensuring access to imports and allowing goods and visitors to land on the island under different weather conditions.

The standard to which the existing harbour and coastal infrastructure was built may not meet design standards required to address escalating climate risks. Access to materials for maintenance and building may also be affected by more extreme events.
 

CONFIDENCE LEVEL
LOW

Medium evidence, low agreement

The effects of changing weather conditions are well documented, along with their impacts on access to the sea, but definitive links to climate change are less certain.

What could happen

Rising sea levels, storm surge and severe storm events are all expected to reduce the integrity of coastal infrastructure and increase risk. 

With increasing extreme weather events due to changing climate, access will also likely restrict the safe transfer of cargo or visitors, even with the development of the second harbour on Pitcairn Island. This will have economic and social implications and presents a high risk for the safety of transport shipping crews. 

Another potential concern for infrastructure on Pitcairn Island, is that the current unsurfaced roads are susceptible to erosion. There has been work on Pitcairn Island to address issues of erosion e.g. restoration of hillsides and laying culverts to collect water flowing down the slopes, it is hoped that this may help to mitigate the impacts of future climate change.
 

CONFIDENCE LEVEL
LOW

Low evidence, low agreement

Potential impacts have been identified but local climate impacts studies are lacking.