Adapting to climate change: Ottawa wants Canadians to say

This call for evidence (A new window)which will expire on July 15, is supposed to allow the government to finally develop its national climate change adaptation strategy, the first version of which is expected in the fall of 2022.

The government says it has already conducted a poll of dozens of experts, including representatives of provinces and territories. Experts from other countries who learned from their adaptation strategies also shared their experiences.

The advisory tables made it possible to develop a series of short, medium and long-term goals, which revolve around five main themes: health, infrastructure, natural environment, economics and security in the event of a disaster.

The results of these discussions should guide the federal government in developing its objectives. While the National Adaptation Strategy will set goals to be achieved by 2050, it will also set goals for 2030 – the date when Ottawa pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. 31% below 2005 levels.

The strategy will also include five-year action plans, which are requested to be updated in accordance with the acceleration of the impacts of climate change in the country.

This concerted framework is absolutely necessary as Canada has experienced record heat waves, deadly wildfires, and floods that have devastated communities in recent years.

According to the Ministry of Environment, the country’s climate is warming twice as fast as the global average, and three times faster in the north.

We need a national adaptation strategy that brings all Canadians into the conversation, especially vulnerable populationsOn Monday, Minister Gilbo, who was in Varennes to announce the funding of the vital conversion facilities, argued.

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According to the minister, Canada must not only take measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but also ensure that it achieves climate resilience, making it possible to reduce human and financial damage and anticipate the impact of climate change.

We can and must mitigate and adapt to the effects, thus attacking and defending ourselves, so that our effort is absolute. »

Quote from Stephen Gilbolt, Minister of Environment and Climate Change

The document released on Monday includes proposals to support Canadians affected by climate disasters faster, increase resources so that the health system is prepared for risks associated with climate change, and update standards for building infrastructure to make it more resistant to extreme weather or promote. Projects that protect biodiversity.

At this point, these proposals have not been accepted by the federal government and do not reflect consensus among different levels of government, said Jeff MacDonald, director general of climate change adaptation.

However, consultation with the provinces, territories and indigenous communities is necessary to implement this strategy.

What we are asking is to consider adaptation [aux changements climatiques] As a priority when it comes to making decisions or making investments, not as a secondary factor or as a reaction to an eventspecially.

He added that there have been many talks since January with provinces and territories to align our investments, our regulatory approaches and our standards. This conversation will continue during public consultations.

According to Jeff MacDonald, the costs of this strategy will be significant, although the exact amount is unknown at this time.

However, he made it clear that the cost of disaster prevention and preparedness is many times lower than the cost of response and recovery. For example, a recent report from the Council of Canadian Academies notes that the analysis found that every dollar spent on flood risk reduction in a residential basement saved $11.

While discussing Phase One, five groups of experts in health, economics, resilience, natural and built infrastructure and nature advised Minister Gilbeault on areas in which they believed the government should focus his plan.

More and more frequent and extreme events

The Expert Group on Disaster Resilience says that by 2030, Canada should be able to significantly reduce the number of Canadians at risk from extreme weather and be able to restore every disaster-stricken community within a year.

The residents of Lytton, British Columbia are a good example. The city of about 250 people was devastated in a forest fire in June 2021, after it experienced the highest temperature ever recorded in Canada. Two people were killed, and 10 months later, restoration work had not yet begun.

Reconstruction was hampered by a number of factors, including more severe weather conditions. Last November, flooding washed away roads into the city causing an estimated $5 billion in damage across British Columbia. Then winter brought the largest snowfall to Lytton in more than three decades.

The road to Lytton was swept away by floods in November 2021.

Photo: (British Columbia Department of Transport/Reuters)

Lytton was not the only Canadian community affected by a series of disasters. Last summer, Red Lake, Ontario, and many of its first neighboring states, were hit by wildfires for the second year in a row, leading to evacuations and the destruction of thousands of hectares of land.

On May 10, the municipality about 500 kilometers northwest of Thunder Bay declared a state of emergency after flooding washed away parts of the highway to Red Lake.

culvert destroyed by a flood.

This stream near Red Lake was severely damaged over the weekend.

Photo: Red Lake Municipality

In the past two years, the Federal Department of Public Safety has been called 14 times to help fight out-of-control fires, up from four in the previous five years.

Last summer, more than 4.3 million hectares were burned across the country, more than 1.5 times the 10-year average of 2.6 million.

Forecasters said Friday that Canadians from British Columbia to western Quebec can expect above-average fire risks in June and July again this year.

Flooding is also a major and more frequent risk. Last week, floods forced evacuations in Manitoba, Alberta, the Northwest Territories and northwestern Ontario.

Until the 1960s, Canada recorded nearly 30 climate-related disasters every decade. Now the number has exceeded 100.

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