Canadians will see lower incomes and a alternative between higher taxes or fewer government services if there isn’t more effort to adapt to the changing climate, a latest report from The Canadian Climate Institute warns.

But in response to a report released Wednesday, if governments and the private sector buckle up and begin investing in making Canada more resilient to the results of maximum weather, the economic impact of climate change could be cut by 75 per cent.

“The excellent news story is we’ve some ability to vary this future,” said Ryan Ness, the director of adaptation research for the climate institute.

In its evaluation, called Damage Control, the institute checked out projected economic growth and analyzed the impact of various scenarios based on what number of greenhouse gas emissions are eliminated and what we do to arrange for more-frequent severe weather.

The worst news is that in every scenario, Canada’s climate is already changing and more severe weather – drought, forest fires, flooding, and damaging storms – is already upon us.

In 2021, severe weather caused $2.1 billion in insured damages, which doesn’t include costs related to public infrastructure or uninsured private losses.

The evaluation estimates that Canada is already taking a look at annual disaster recovery bills of $5 billion by 2025 and $17 billion by 2050, no matter how well Canada and the remainder of the world do at cutting emissions.

It says that to forestall a loss in government services, including to health care or education, income taxes would need to increase by 0.35 per cent in 2025, in comparison with now, and get one per cent higher by 2050.

“Negative economic impacts will not be only a future prospect. They’re already happening today,” said Ness.

Within the last week, Atlantic Canada was hit by the worst hurricane it has ever seen, and Canadians in parts of Ontario and western Quebec are still recovering after a derecho pummelled the region with multiple tornadoes and downbursts bringing winds as much as 190 km/h in May.

Beyond higher reconstruction costs, Canada can be facing massive economic disruptions as factories are closed during storms or extreme heat and provide chains are disrupted. Railways and highways might fail faster than expected under the stress of more extreme weather.

Construction will get an economic boost, but only since it must step in to repair and replace damaged structures and transportation corridors, the report says.

If we do nothing more to adapt in anticipation of more severe weather, it says, the economy will take a $25 billion hit in 2025, rising to between $78 billion and $101 billion by 2050.

The impact can be felt across the board, with lower incomes, job losses, lower business investments and cuts to exports.

But when every effort is made to limit global warming by cutting greenhouse gas emissions, the report says, and Canada makes the needed investments so as to add resilience to private and non-private infrastructure, things will look higher.

The report suggests that for each $1 invested in adaptation, governments and businesses can save $5 to $6 in direct damage costs, and one other $6 to $10 in economic advantages, corresponding to avoiding work stoppages or productivity slowdowns.

Adaptation can include seawalls to guard low-lying communities, laying down temperature-resistant asphalt, or upgrading or burying critical power lines.

Federal Infrastructure Minister Dominic LeBlanc told reporters in Ottawa on Wednesday the Liberal government desires to get ahead of “extreme weather events.”

“We totally share the view that if we are able to get ahead of those extreme weather events now, regardless that the amounts of cash required are significant, it’ll be much less in the long run,” he said.

“Not only less money by way of the actual infrastructure adaption and mitigation, but as you’ve heard from my colleagues there are real human and economic costs when a few of this infrastructure fails that goes beyond simply the price of rebuilding.”

Ness said it’s “far more efficient economically to spend the cash upfront on making that infrastructure higher and more resilient than it’s to repair it when climate change breaks it.”

The institute says the federal government needs to start out incorporating the prices of climate change into all its economic decisions. That features reporting on the estimated costs of not making planned investments.

It also must encourage, and in some cases mandate, the private sector to do the identical.

And most significantly, it must scale up its investments in adaptation to match the danger we’re facing, the institute says.

Ness said the national adaptation strategy expected from the federal government this fall is place to start out, but he said it’ll only work if the strategy comes with major latest investments and actions.

— with files from Global News


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