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The latest update from Environment and Climate Change Canada indicates that the average insurance payouts related to extreme weather are estimated to have more than quadrupled (to $1.9 billion per year) over the past decade, with uninsured losses estimated to be double that amount. Photo credit: IgorZh, stock.adobe.com

The federal government says it is progressing successfully towards developing Canada’s first National Adaptation Strategy to fight climate change since it began engaging stakeholders and partners early in 2021.

Canada’s first National Adaptation Strategy — expected to be finalized by fall 2022 — is intended to identify measures and investments that increase the resilience of communities, natural ecosystems and biodiversity in the face of an ever-changing world. It will also establish a framework for measuring climate change progress at the national level.

“The extreme heatwave and wildfires in Western Canada this summer underscore the urgency of adapting to climate change,” states Environment and Climate Change Canada in its latest update. “In the North, thawing permafrost is challenging traditional ways of life and infrastructure. In other parts of Canada, farmers continue to lose crops to both drought and flooding, and coastal communities are grappling with stronger storm surges and coastal erosion.”

Since announcing the development of the strategy in December 2020, the federal government says it has had the first round of conversations with provinces and territories, non-governmental organizations, the private sector, Indigenous representatives, and youth organizations to identify the strategy’s objectives and principles.

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The latest update from Environment and Climate Change Canada indicates that the average insurance payouts related to extreme weather are estimated to have more than quadrupled (to $1.9 billion per year) over the past decade, with uninsured losses estimated to be double that amount.

The update also points to the National Issues Report released in June 2021, which shows how communities of all sizes across the country are experiencing the impacts of climate change on their infrastructure, health and well-being, cultures and economies. Of note is a new interactive map that lists climate adaptation projects by province across the country.

Canada climate adaptation strategy graphic
Graphic courtesy of Environment and Climate Change Canada

Soon, Environment and Climate Change Canada will be launching adaptation advisory tables led by environmental organizations, adaptation experts, Indigenous peoples, and other key partners, including youth, from across the country.

“Those partners will have the mandate to create a framework for concrete adaptation action, with aspirational goals and advice on how to face climate change,” the department said in its update.

In 2021, Canada announced $3.7 billion in new investments related to climate change adaptation and resilience. This included investments in wildfire resilience, flood maps, health adaptation, and standards to support infrastructure resilience, as well as $1.9 billion announced in Budget 2021 to support provincial and territorial disaster response and recovery efforts.

The Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund was allocated an addition of $1.4 billion from Budget 2021 to the initial $2 billion, to support projects such as wildfire mitigation activities, rehabilitation of stormwater systems, and restoration of wetlands and shorelines.

Other recent reports and publications that will help to inform Canada’s new national adaptation strategy, include: Towards a National Adaptation Strategy for Canada: Insights from Global Peers (June 2021) by the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) and the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC); The Health Costs of Climate Change, How Canada can adapt, prepare and save lives (June 2021) published by the Canadian Institute for Climate Choices; and the Institute’s Tip of the Iceberg – Navigating the Known and Unknown Costs of Climate Change for Canada (December 2020); lastly, there is Advancing the Climate Resilience of Canadian Infrastructure, (July 2021) published by the International Institute for Sustainable Development.

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