Climate change could hit Canadian prosperity

Friday 30th Sep 2011 by theWeather Club

The Canadian government has released a report which has attempted to quantify the effects of a changing climate on their economy over the coming decades. According to the report, current federal estimates suggest that climate change will cost Canada about C$5bn (£8.1bn) a year by 2020. Negative effects of climate change could cost Canada the equivalent of 1% of its GDP by 2050 rising to 2.5% by 2075, the government-backed report has said. This means that that the changing climate could potentially be costing Canadians C$43bn (£70bn) a year by 2050. However these figures depended on co-ordinated global action to limit warming to 2°C by 2050, the report stressed.

Higher temperatures could kill forests, flood low-lying coastal areas and spread disease, the report said. The panel went out of its way to deny some reports that Canada would gain from global warming. “Climate change presents a growing, long-term economic burden for Canada,” said Canada's National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy (NRTEE). The 162-page reports proposed measures included enhanced forest fire protection, pest control and an effort to foster the growth of more resilient trees. The panel also recommended limiting construction in low-lying coastal areas vulnerable to flooding, and developing technologies to limit pollution and slow ozone accumulation. In fact the report went on to say that Canada had much to gain from an international, Kyoto-style treaty focussing on cutting carbon emissions beyond 2012.

As with all things climate change related the political fallout was not far behind. The findings were seized on by opposition politicians who believe the incumbent government should be doing more to confront the threat of global warming. “Our coastal communities, our forestry industry, and the health of Canadians will all suffer unless we take action right now,” said Laurin Liu, of Canada's main opposition party. But Environment Minister Peter Kent said Canada needs "a strong, stable, environmentally responsible ... government to take care of the environment and that is exactly what we are doing".