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;
- controlling pests;
- 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 once flooded
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.
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 Report concludes:
- 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 "bottom up".
- 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).
Out of time for today to address Canada's various adaptation strategies, but stay tuned for Davis LLP's Cross Country Climate Change Check-Up next week.