Report warns of ‘big gaps’ in Canada’s climate change disaster preparedness – National


As scorching, record-breaking temperatures continue to build up in Western Canada, a new federal report says such extreme weather events, and the exorbitant costs associated with them, will be much more common if the country is not sufficiently prepared for the disastrous effects of climate change.

According to Natural Resources Canada’s 734-page report, the “deep and lasting impacts” of Canada’s already changing climate will be strongly felt by all in many different aspects across the country.

Extreme weather events, such as the heat wave in western Canada, as well as changes in precipitation patterns, higher temperatures and sea level rise “will persist and, in many cases, s. ‘will intensify over the next decades,’ the report says.

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The climate effects would impact all sectors of the Canadian economy, according to the report, with disruptions to supply chains and production. Overseas, changing weather conditions could significantly affect food availability, trade and immigration, putting additional pressure on Canadian communities.

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While the report’s stern warning also included ways to mitigate the effects of climate change, much of the focus was on adaptation.

Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson said that while there was still talk of climate change mitigation, Canada now needs to think about how to adapt to some impacts that are already being felt.

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Growing number of extreme weather events linked to climate change

Growing number of extreme weather events linked to climate change

“Obviously this means we need to think about how we are adapting to some of the impacts of climate change that we are seeing today that are already integrated into what we are going to see over the next few years,” said Wilkinson said at a press conference on Tuesday.

In an interview with Global News on Monday, Natural Resources Canada’s Fiona Warren expressed the same sentiment.

“Climate change is happening now, most of the impacts will persist and in many cases they will intensify,” she said. “So with this knowledge, we have to adapt now. “

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The call for adaptation comes amid glaring gaps in Canada’s “preparedness” for the looming climate crisis, according to the report.

Many communities, ranging from small towns to the largest cities in Canada, are expected to witness extreme weather events like strong heat waves, floods and windstorms in the near future.

The report also highlighted the country’s infrastructure in particular, with everything from roads to sewers and power lines being particularly at risk.

The cost of climate change

According to the report, an increase in insurance claims for climate-related damage has been used to predict the economic costs of the climate crisis.

Between 1983 and 2007, insurance losses related to extreme weather conditions totaled approximately $ 400 million per year on average. By comparison, those same losses between 2008 and 2018 averaged $ 1.9 billion per year.

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National World Cup: June 29

National World Cup: June 29

The report said Alberta was the “epicenter of extreme weather events” in terms of economic losses, with an insurance payment of $ 3.9 billion for the Fort McMurray wildfire disaster in Canada. 2016, but said six of the 10 “biggest insured loss events” in Canada had occurred in this province since 1983.

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Across the country, the report also indicates that Canada’s infrastructure was originally designed for a northern climate, not to withstand a rapidly changing climate.

Federal and provincial authorities must start investing now in the country’s infrastructure to update and adapt to the country’s climate change, according to the report.

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“Whether it’s floods, wildfires or other impacts on our infrastructure, the costs are going to be huge and those costs cannot be borne by municipalities alone,” said Taylor Bachrach, MP New Democrat from Skeena – Bulkley Valley, British Columbia.

“The federal government must stand behind municipalities and local governments across Canada rely heavily on property taxes to fund their infrastructure. “

According to Bachrach, what we need now is neither mitigation nor adaptation, it is both.

The financial impacts of climate change will only get worse if the government does not tackle greenhouse gas emissions in a “concerted manner,” he said.

Extreme weather events

The report’s release comes amid a scorching heat wave that hit western Canada over the past week.

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The link between the BC heatwave and climate change

The link between the BC heatwave and climate change

On Monday alone, British Columbia set more than 50 temperature records. On Tuesday, the small community in Lytton Province broke the national heat record for the third day in a row, reaching temperatures above 49 ° C.

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According to David Wayne Phillips, senior climatologist at Environment Canada, what we are currently experiencing in Western Canada is not just “your normal heat wave”.

According to him, there is a different element of this heat wave compared to others.

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“I think it’s probably the human component,” he said, adding that the climate itself does not cause extreme weather events like tornadoes or hurricanes – “it only makes them worse. things”.

Communities and industry are already adapting

Although the report highlights many gaps in the country’s climate action plan, several Canadian cities have already taken it upon themselves to adapt and undertake climate change mitigation efforts.

Brampton, Ont. published its environmental master plan in 2014, and has been working for seven years on a complete restructuring of the city’s environmental performance.

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Is this the new normal? The science behind the historic heat wave in western North America

Is this the new normal? The science behind the historic heat wave in western North America

In 2018, Burnaby, British Columbia put in place a bylaw requiring electric vehicle charging in all new residential buildings.

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Canada’s clean energy sector already employs over 430,000 people and is expected to grow by almost 50% over the next 10 years. Conversely, the fossil fuel sector is expected to experience a 9% drop in employment over the same period.

Despite this, the report’s calls still ring clear that Canadian officials must work immediately to prepare for the future.

“So we need to see more investment from the federal government. We need to see communities with the tools to adapt to the impacts that are already with us, ”said Bachrach. “And most importantly, we need to see communities across the country have the support they need to reduce their emissions and move to the clean energy economy.

“This work needs to happen faster than ever because it is an emergency. We are in crisis and we need the government to act on it.

with files from the Canadian Press, David Akin and Kam Razavi

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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