Climate change to cost Canada billions

Toronto Skyline

Toronto Skyline

By RTCC Staff

Climate change catastrophes could cost Canada anything from 5% to 25% of GDP according to a new study by the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy (NRTEE).

The report examines the costs of climate change on the country, both that of climate impacts that may occur and the costs of climate change adaptation.

In the report forward, David McLaughlin, President and CEO of the NRTEE said: “To date, focus has mostly been on what it would cost to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by industry and consumers. Little attention has been paid to the cost of inaction, to what economic damages could accrue to Canada and Canadians as global emissions rise and climate change plays out.”

Canada currently contributes about 1.5% of global emissions, but the report highlights that impacts brought about by increased world-wide emissions could have a “real and growing” economic impact.

By 2020 climate change costs for Canada are estimated at C$5 billion per year, while by 2050, they could have increased to between $21 and $43 billion per year – with a chance they could be even higher.

The report examines the costs of climate change across two possible futures: one where the world keeps global warming to 2°C by 2050 and the one where it doesn’t. At the lower future end – with temperatures just under the target – climate change would cost Canada up to $43 billion without any adaptive measures, but in the higher climate change scenario, the costs could reach as high as $91 billion.

In less than two weeks, countries from around the world will be meeting in Durban, for the UNFCCC Climate Summit, where they will continue to work towards a global deal limiting temperatures below this two degree target.

Last week the International Energy Agency, warned that urgent action was needed to prevent the world from reaching the point of no return for staying within the targets.

Broken down, by 2050, timber supply impacts could range between $2 billion and $17 billion per year – particularly hitting British Columbia – while flood damage from sea level rise and storm surges could cost between $1 billion to $8 billion per year.

The report also estimated that poor air quality from higher temperatures will lead to more hospital visits, resulting in millions of dollars in healthcare costs for Canada’s major cities – Toronto, Montréal, Vancouver and Calgary.

The NRTEE warned that while adaptation required some up front costs, in the long run it would be the more economical choice.

They recommended that Canadians use economic information to decide how to best prepare for and respond to the impacts of climate change, saying the Canadian government should invest in growing the country’s expertise in the economics of climate change – producing relevant, Canadian-focused data – model climate impacts to inform discussions and invest in generating research to enlighten decision making.

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