Canada published its first ever national climate adaptation strategy on Thursday (Nov 24), including C$1.6 billion (US$1.2 billion) in new federal funding commitments to help protect communities against the increasing impacts of global warming.
Like many countries around the world, Canada is seeing a rise in extreme weather caused by climate change, with average annual losses from disasters forecast to reach C$15.4 billion by 2030, according to the government.
The goal of the adaptation strategy is to help reduce those losses with federal policy and investment. Research shows that every dollar spent on adaptation measures saves up to C$15 in costs, including both direct and indirect economy-wide benefits, the government said.
“The fight against climate change has reached our doorstep. We must not only reduce the emissions that cause climate change, we must also adapt to the changes that are upon us,” federal Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault said in a statement.
Implementing new flooding and wildfire standards for new construction, for example, could save Canada an estimated C$4.7 billion a year, according to the statement, while urban forests in the city of Toronto have lowered cooling costs, improved air quality, and reduced strains on stormwater infrastructure.
The strategy focuses on five priority areas: improving health, building and maintaining resilient public infrastructure, protecting nature and biodiversity, supporting the economy, and reducing the impact of climate-related disasters.
Ottawa has so far earmarked C$8 billion in federal funding for adaptation and disaster resilience, the statement said.
The federal government spent two years consulting provinces, territories, municipalities and Indigenous groups about the strategy, and they will now have 90 days to comment.
Emergency Preparedness Minister Bill Blair, speaking from Prince Edward Island which was hammered by Hurricane Fiona in September, said the strategy would build Canada’s resilience.
“The devastating wildfire, flooding and hurricane seasons of the past year have demonstrated that urgent action is required to address the increased frequency and severity of climate-related disasters,” Blair said.