The National Round Table on Environment and the Economy (NRTEE)
has just published its latest climate change report, "Climate
Prosperity: Paying the Price - the Economic Impacts of Climate
Change for Canada". The Report estimates that climate change
costs for Canada "could escalate from roughly $5 billion per
year in 2020 - less than 10 years away - to between $21 billion and
$43 billion per year by the 2050s". The Report reviews four
separate scenarios combining both global emissions growth and
Canadian economic and population grown to understand the potential
costs of climate change "under different futures".
The Report examines how we get costs down and indicates that
"[g]lobal mitigation leading to a low climate change future
reduces costs to Canada in the long term". The Report also
argues in favour of a post-2012 international climate arrangement
that "systematically reduced emissions from all emitters -
including Canada - over time".
A Focus on Adaptation
Far from being centred on mitigation, the Report focuses on how
adapting to climate change is both possible and cost-effective. To
that end, the Report examined five different adaptation strategies
in detail to assess their costs and benefits:
enhancing forest fire prevention;
planting climate resistant tree-species;
prohibiting new construction in areas at risk of flooding in
coastal areas; and
undertaking strategic retreat by gradually abandoning dwellings
The Report provides four recommendations:
1. The Government of Canada invest in growing our country's
expertise in the economics of climate change impacts and adaptation
so we have our own Canadian-focused, relevant data and analysis for
public and private-sector decision makers.
2. The Government of Canada cost out and model climate impacts
to inform internal decisions about adapating policies and
operations to climate change and allocating scarce resources to
programs that help Canadians adapt.
3. Governments at all levels continue investing in generating
and disseminating research to inform adaptation decision making at
the sectoral, regional and community level. This research should,
as a matter of routine, incorporate economic analysis of the costs
and benefits of options to adapt to climate impacts because the
current data is insufficient for decision makers and is not readily
or consistently available.
4. The Government of Canada forge a new data-and
analysis-sharing partnership with universities, the private sector,
governments and other expert bodies to leverage unique and
available non-governmental resources for climate change
Adaptation Is Hot
Interestingly, adaptation seems to be a hotter climate change
topic in Canada than ever before. The Conference Board of Canada
has just released "Beyond Sandbagging: Building Community
Resilience to the Impacts of Climate Change". The CBC Report
looks at the impacts of climate change in Canada in an attempt to
clarify what it means for public safety and national security. The
Climate change is real. Its impacts are being felt here and
they are being felt now.
While climate change will continue to be characterized by
incomplete information and uncertainty, effectively managing and
responding to its impacts will require consistent and concerted
action, with an emphasis on fostering resilience from the
Engagement from the private and public sectors is a key element
of community, and ultimately societal resilience.
a "whole of society" approach rooted at the local
will help build a more resilient Canada.
So What Are We Doing
Canada doesn't have a national climate change strategy, let
alone an adaptation strategy. Individual provinces, however, may
address adaptation on their own (for example, Alberta's
Climate Change and Emissions Management Act provides that
the Climate Change and Emissions Management Fund can be used to
fund programs and measures related to adaptation).
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