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Canada to unveil new climate adaptation strategy today with more than $1-billion commitment: sources

Canada’s first climate adaptation strategy, to be unveiled today, will commit the federal government to new construction guidelines and standards in areas prone to flooding and wildfires.

Environment and Climate Change Canada will unveil the strategy — which has been almost two years in the making — in Prince Edward Island, one of the Atlantic provinces that felt the brunt of Hurricane Fiona in September.

The strategy is aimed at ensuring Canada’s economy and people are prepared to deal with the worst impacts of climate change. The strategy document comes with targets, but the goal of the high-level document is to set the stage for more detailed implementation plans to be rolled out later.

According to a senior federal government source with knowledge of the strategy who was not authorized to speak, the government will also announce more than $1 billion in new funding commitments for climate change mitigation on Thursday.

The funding required from the public and private sectors to address the impacts of climate change in Canada is estimated at $5.3 billion per year, according to the Insurance Bureau of Canada, a trade association that represents the industry.

Another source said the government will commit to building upon climate-resilient building codes. Expect new targets for reducing the impacts of flooding, forest fires and severe heat domes. A summer heat wave in B.C. killed more than 600 people in 2021.

Streaks of fire are seen behind trees, with a water jet visible.
Firefighters struggle to contain a wildfire outside Lytton, B.C. on July 14, 2022. (Supplied by Daniel Mundall)

Efforts to preserve and expand forests and wetlands have been shown to reduce emissions and minimize the impacts of flooding and heat waves on urban populations. The government is expected to prioritize investments in these nature-based climate solutions.

Climate change has had devastating impacts on Canadians already. In June 2021, Western Canada experienced a historic heat dome which set a record temperature of 49.6 degrees C in Lytton, B.C. A forest first would later tear through the community.

Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault called September’s Hurricane Fiona “the most severe hurricane in the history of Canada. We’ve never seen anything like this.”

“Lives were lost, and this is because of climate change,” he added.

Economic analysis shows the impacts of climate change will be severe, even if the world does not exceed the international goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees C. A recent United Nations report warned that the failure of individual nations to cut their emissions is “leading our planet to at least 2.5 degrees warming, a level deemed catastrophic by scientists at the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.”

The Canadian Climate Institute estimates that by 2025, the impact of climate change could cut economic growth by $25 billion annually. More recently, the Parliamentary Budget Officer estimated that even if the world meets its emissions reduction commitments, Canada’s real GDP will take a 5.8 per cent hit in 2100.

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