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Canada will pay a high cost for climate change

by Mark Sabourin
EcoLog, 4/5/2019 11:12:00 AM

The day after the federal carbon backstop was imposed on four reluctant Canadian provinces — Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and New Brunswick — Natural Resources Canada released on April 2, 2019 the first Canada’s Changing Climate Report. The headline? Canada’s climate is warming at twice the rate of the global average, with the impact being greater the further north you go.

If global emissions peak now and plummet afterward, Canada may get away with a further 1.8° C rise by the end of the century (2081-2100). If they don’t, expect an average temperature increase of as much as 6.3° C.

“This report is a wakeup call for all Canadians,” said Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, in a statement. “It is clear that climate change is real, human made, and requires urgent action.”

To the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment (CAPE), climate change is a public health issue. “If Canada is warming twice as fast as the global average, with per-capita emissions that are among the highest in the world — Canadian parents and policymakers owe our kids twice the level of leadership as the global average,” said Dr. Courtney Howard, CAPE Board President, in a statement.

The Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) says the report clearly points to the need to adapt now to make communities more resilient.

“The property and casualty insurance industry continues to see the devastating effects of this new era of an unpredictable, changing climate,” said Don Forgeron, IBC President and CEO, in a release.

It’s not just insurers who pay the cost. Forgeron said that for every dollar of insured loss, another three dollars are spent to recover public infrastructure lost in the event.

The report says Canadians can expect an increase in the number of days of extreme heat, leading to drought and wildfires. Periods of rainfall will become more intense, raising the risk of urban flooding.

Canadians reaching for a glass of cold water to slake their thirst on a scorching summer day may be in for an unexpected surprise, the report warns. A combination of reduced winter snowfall and surface water evaporation may contribute to reduced summer water availability, despite more precipitation in some places.

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