Climate change will cost Canada and its people about $5 billion a year by 2020, a groundbreaking analysis for the federal government warns.
Costs will continue to climb steeply, to between $21 billion and $43 billion a year by the 2050s — depending on how much action is taken on reducing global greenhouse-gas emissions and how fast the economy and population grow, the analysis says.
“Climate change will be expensive for Canada and Canadians,” says the report from the National Roundtable on the Environment and the Economy, issued Thursday.
“Increasing greenhouse-gas emissions worldwide will exert a growing economic impact on our own country, exacting a rising price from Canadians as climate change impacts occur here at home.”
The roundtable is a group of business leaders, academics and researchers chosen by the federal government to advise Ottawa on how to deal simultaneously with challenges in the economy and the environment.
The group models several different economic and environmental scenarios to come up with its costs, but generally assumes that the world will be able to contain global warming to about two degrees by 2050, as promised.
The report is among the first thorough attempts to put a price tag on global warming specifically in Canada. It builds on previous research that mapped out the physical effects of climate change in regions across the country.
The study also looked at the cost effectiveness of a range of adaptation strategies. It found that most strategies were well worthwhile — efforts such as improving forest-fire protection, planting resilient trees, controlling pests, banning new buildings in areas at risk of flooding and limiting pollution.
Since adaptation can generally be quite effective, the roundtable recommends the federal government invest in programs that help Canadians adapt and also boost the country’s paltry expertise and research in that area.
At the same time, Canada should do what it can to reduce emissions here and around the world, the report urges. Canada’s contributions to global warming are not large, but the effects of other countries’ emissions on Canada are astronomical, it points out.