Climate Adaptation Coalition Says Canada Needs Specific Disaster Resilience Targets

A broad coalition on climate adaptation and disaster resilience says air conditioning should become a human right alongside winter heating – one of a series of tough goals Canada must meet over the coming years as the impacts of climate change increase.

“We are focused on the short term,” said Blair Feltmate, director of the Intact Center on Climate Adaptation at the University of Waterloo.

“What the federal government still lacks is a lack of sense of the need to act urgently.”

The Feltmate Institute is a member of Climate Proof Canada, a coalition whose members include the Insurance Bureau of Canada, Federation of Canadian Municipalities, Canadian Red Cross, Métis National Council, Canadian Chamber of Commerce , the Forest Products Association of Canada and a range of research organizations. and environmental groups.

As the federal government prepares its National Adaptation Strategy for later this fall, the coalition released a statement on Monday on what it should contain — mostly short-term goals.

It says Canada should protect at least 35% of the 840,000 homes at high risk of flooding by 2028. These measures could range from altering land grading to building berms, impoundments and canals. diversion or other natural infrastructure.

Blair Feltmate is director of the Intact Center on Climate Adaptation at the University of Waterloo. He says the federal government lacks a sense of urgency when it comes to acting on the climate crisis. (Submitted by Blair Feltmate)

By 2028, the coalition says 15% of at-risk communities should have wildfire protection plans in place, 15% of those homes should have protective retrofits, and all new construction should be fire resistant. forest fires.

Extreme heat has caused hundreds of deaths in recent years – 619 in British Columbia this summer alone, according to the provincial coroner. The coalition says Ottawa should commit to reducing these deaths by 70% and related hospitalizations by 50% over the next five years.

“Achievable and doable things”

This may require measures such as requiring all buildings to be air-conditioned, Feltmate said.

“We consider it a human right for people to have warmth in the winter,” he said. “It’s a matter of safety and security. It’s the same now for the extreme heat in the summer.”

Feltmate said the recommendations are achievable and affordable.

“These are all achievable and achievable things.”

Air conditioning, he said, could be provided to those who need it for as little as $5 a month. Experience with programs such as Fire Smart, which educates homeowners on how to protect their homes from wildfires, shows that nearly three-quarters of those who have used the program have incorporated at least two of its recommendations.

Feltmate said the federal government’s approach to climate adaptation so far has been too vague and long-term. Most of his climate goals don’t have targets until 2030 or 2050, and that’s not fast enough, he said.

The ministry aware of the “need to act quickly”

Federal Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault said his government is increasingly aware of the need to act quickly. But he added that adaptation requires cooperation with provinces, municipalities, First Nations and other actors, and is in many ways more complex than reducing emissions.

“We can’t just come up with a federal plan,” he said. “There are a lot of people we need to engage with.”

Ottawa, for example, has little to say about urban planning, which regulates how and where people build in places including
flood plains.

But Guilbeault said tough federal targets, such as those proposed by the coalition, are possible.

“We could do that,” he said. “That’s what we’re working towards.”

By 2050, most Canadian cities are expected to see their summer daily maximum temperatures increase by up to five degrees Celsius. The number of days above 30 C will have doubled or even tripled and the duration and frequency of heat waves will also increase.

“We know it’s coming,” Guilbeault said. “We are not ready.”