Canada's most comprehensive climate change adaptation report calls for
TORONTO, June 11, 2012 /CNW/ - Intact Financial Corporation and the
University of Waterloo, along with more than 80 experts from across the
country, today released the Climate Change Adaptation Project report,
which provides a roadmap for adaptation in Canada. It projects rising
temperatures across the country and substantial fluctuations in
precipitation levels, all of which will leave a range of sectors,
cities and rural regions in Canada vulnerable. City infrastructure,
biodiversity, freshwater resources, Aboriginal communities and
agriculture were targeted as the most vulnerable areas where adaptive
solutions to address climate change are most urgently required. The
report outlines 20 practical and cost-effective recommendations that
can be implemented on a priority basis in the short term.
To guide the project, climate projections for Canada were developed. The
results are striking. Canada will continue to warm by up to 2°C by 2020
and 4°C by 2050. The most significant impact will be in the Arctic,
which will see increases of up to 4°C by 2020 and 8°C by 2050, along
with increased precipitation of up to 20 per cent by 2020 and 40 per
cent by 2050. Climate change will impact regions across Canada
differently. For example, Vancouver will see a decrease in summer
precipitation, Winnipeg will see an increase in winter precipitation
and Toronto and Montreal will see milder winters.
"Unfortunately, climate change is a reality that is already taking a
toll on many parts of our country. When you consider that the 10
warmest winters on record have all happened since 1998, it becomes
clear that we need to think immediately about how Canada must adapt,"
said Professor Blair Feltmate, director of sustainable practice of the
School of Environment, Enterprise and Development (SEED), based at
Waterloo's Faculty of Environment. "If there is one take-away from this
project, it's that climate change needs to be an important
consideration in all planning processes, whether you work for industry,
government, an NGO or within an Aboriginal community."
"It is quite clear that there will be serious implications for Canadians
if we stand still while our weather patterns continue to evolve," said
Feridun Hamdullahpur, president & vice-chancellor of Waterloo. "The
recommendations outlined in this project are the push we need to bring
climate change adaptation to the forefront."
The project draws attention to the leading climate change challenges
facing this country as well as the cost-effective actions needed in
order to adapt.
Whether it's modes of transportation, storm water run-off or energy
generation, Canadian cities' infrastructure is predicted to be strongly
impacted by climate change. Key recommendations from the Climate Change
Adaptation Project report include climate change vulnerability and risk
assessments, evaluating the storm water run-off systems for capacity
and resilience to future climate extremes and the incorporation of
climate change adaptation into city planning policy.
Climate change is altering natural habitats. Not only can it push some
species to the brink of extinction, but it is also causing invasive
species to enter new habitats. Key recommendations from the project
include modeling climate change in order to help inform solutions,
creating habitat corridors in human-dominated areas to assist
migration, and better management of exotic invasive species.
The challenges surrounding freshwater resources are significant from
region to region. Southern Alberta has a growing population and a large
agriculture industry, with only a small proportion of Canada's
freshwater resources. Warmer temperatures will increase evaporation and
reduce the spring snowmelt, which will limit the availability of this
already scarce resource. Dryer summers in Ontario will reduce the Great
Lakes' levels and strain water availability. Key recommendations from
the project include protecting and restoring wetlands and natural
drainage systems, changing the design of human infrastructure to
conserve water quality and quantity and locating new communities and
water-intensive industry where water will be plentiful despite the
Climate change is having a large impact on Canada's Aboriginal
communities, including dramatic and continuous degradation of community
infrastructure, diminution of traditional livelihoods and catastrophic
disruption to community access and energy capacity. Key recommendations
from the project, all guided by traditional knowledge, include
comprehensive community capital planning (including the potential for
community redesign and relocation) and integrating resiliency into
community access and energy capacity.
The agriculture industry faces many challenges related to climate
change. The integration of climate change projections and adaptation
strategy into agricultural decision-making, however, remains the most
significant challenge. Key recommendations from the project include
providing agriculture-relevant information on climate change,
incorporating it into planning decisions and developing adaptation
recommendations that are specific to different roles and situations
within the industry.
The insurance industry is witnessing the effects of climate change.
Future extreme weather projections will need to be integrated into
design and construction practices to protect homeowners from climate
risks. Governments and insurers can play a significant role in
encouraging risk reduction. Key recommendations from the project
include updating the National Building Code, incorporating these
changes into new builds and modifications on current structures and
launching a public campaign to inform Canadians about improvements they
can make to their homes to lessen risk.
"Climate change is an important issue for society at large. With rising
temperatures, heavier precipitation and an increasing number of extreme
weather events, we are seeing the impact of our new climate reality
firsthand," said Charles Brindamour, chief executive officer of Intact
Financial Corporation. "This project is an opportunity for Canada to be
a leader on implementing effective climate change adaptation solutions
that will not only lessen the impact today but build strong, resilient
and sustainable communities for years to come."
The Climate Change Adaptation Project, funded in full by a grant from
Intact Foundation, was launched in 2010. Instead of focusing on
mitigation, which aims to reduce the rate and magnitude of climate
change, this project is focused on how this country can adapt to the
impending current and future impact. The 80 experts who contributed to
the project come from diverse backgrounds including academia, law,
banking, insurance, NGOs, Aboriginal communities, utilities and more.
The full report can be found here: www.adaptnowcanada.com
About the University of Waterloo
In just half a century, the University of Waterloo, located at the heart
of Canada's technology hub, has become one of Canada's leading
comprehensive universities with 34,000 full- and part-time students in
undergraduate and graduate programs. Waterloo, as home to the world's
largest post-secondary co-operative education program, embraces its
connections to the world and encourages enterprising partnerships in
learning, research and discovery. In the next decade, the university is
committed to building a better future for Canada and the world by
championing innovation and collaboration to create solutions relevant
to the needs of today and tomorrow. For more information about
Waterloo, visit www.uwaterloo.ca
About Intact Financial Corporation
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Intact Financial Corporation (www.intactfc.com) is the largest provider of property and casualty insurance in Canada.
Intact offers home, auto and business insurance through Intact
Insurance, belairdirect, Grey Power and BrokerLink.