Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation: A Canadian Perspective

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There is strong consensus in the international scientific community that climate change is occurring and that the impacts are already being felt in some regions. It is also widely accepted that, even after introducing significant measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, some additional degree of climate change is inevitable and would have economic, social and environmental impacts on Canada and Canadian communities. Although impacts would vary on a regional basis, all areas of the country and virtually every economic sector would be affected.

To reduce the negative impacts of climate change and take advantage of new opportunities, Canadians will adapt. Adaptation is not an alternative to reducing greenhouse gas emissions in addressing climate change, but rather a necessary complement. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions decreases both the rate and overall magnitude of climate change, which increases the likelihood of successful adaptation and decreases associated costs. Adaptation is not a new concept: Canadians have already developed a range of approaches that have allowed us to deal effectively with our extremely variable climate. Nevertheless, the nature of future climate change, as well as its rate, would pose some new challenges.

Developing an effective strategy for adaptation requires an understanding of our vulnerability to climate change. Vulnerability is determined by
three factors: the nature of climate change, the climatic sensitivity of the system or region being considered, and our capacity to adapt to the resulting changes. The tremendous geographic, ecological and economic diversity of Canada means that these factors, and hence vulnerabilities, vary significantly across the country. In many cases, adaptation will involve enhancing the resiliency and adaptive capacity of a system to increase its ability to deal with stress.

The report Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation: A Canadian Perspective provides an overview of research in the field of climate change impacts and adaptation over the past five years, as it relates to Canada.

–Excerpt from the report