TORONTO — Canada’s age-old approach to assessing climate change risks means that many Canadians are currently living in areas at risk of climate-related flooding and wildfire without knowing it, according to the Canadian Institute for Climate Choice. says a new report.
The study, released last week by a government-funded think tank, projects the risks and costs to Canada’s infrastructure – homes, buildings, roads, railways and electrical systems – over the next several decades based on different climate change scenarios.
It identifies flooding as the greatest risk to homes and buildings, and concludes that many Canadians are unaware of the risk of flooding in their homes.
“There is a lack of information on flood risk in Canada,” the report said.
The study estimates that about 650,000 homes are currently at risk of river flooding, and another 325,000 homes are at risk of local flash flooding of roads and sewers, which it says is a risk that government flood maps rarely pay attention to. keep in
However, property buyers are often unaware of the climate-related risks they can purchase because of the lack of regulations that would compel disclosure, say the authors, who cite research showing that only six percent of people in Canada are flooded. Lives in at-risk areas are aware of this.
“The physical climate risks to residential real estate are not disclosed by home insurers, banks or other mortgage lenders,” the report said. “What this means is that investors are not aware that infrastructure, companies and the sectors in which they are invested may lose value due to increased damage from climate change.”
Other findings include that climate change-related costs to Canada’s infrastructure are on track to increase by tens of billions of dollars each year, and that decisions on new infrastructure currently do not adequately take into account the risks of climate change. .
“Our analysis suggests that the cost of climate change damage to key infrastructure can be massive, yet our cost estimate is only a low-end estimate,” the report said.
The report also found that Canada does a poor job of both providing information on climate risks to infrastructure and ensuring the information is available to consumers and investors.
In fact, because Canada does not produce flood-risk maps for much of the country, the report authors used publicly available data from private firm JBA Risk Management for most of their analysis.
Additionally, due to the lack of available information on climate-related infrastructure risks, construction of homes and other buildings continues in high-risk areas.
“The lack of risk information and guidance in codes and standards means that new infrastructure continues to be designed, and existing infrastructure continues to be managed,” the report said.
For its estimates, the study’s authors used two different scenarios, both of which reflect the fact that Canada warmed much faster than the global average and is expected to continue to do so.
The first scenario shows the adoption of globally announced emission reduction policies in 2020. In this scenario, Canada warms by 3.3 C by mid-century and 4 C by 2100, compared to average temperatures in the 1981–2010 period. The second scenario shows a continuation of current emissions trends, resulting in average temperature increases of 4.4 C by the middle of the century and 7.4 C by the end of the century.
In a high-emissions scenario, the report said flood damage to homes and buildings could increase tenfold to $13.6 billion annually by the end of the century, while damage to roads and railways from temperature and rain could increase. up to $12.8 billion by the end of the century.
These costs will not be distributed equitably, as people living in flood-prone areas or in remote communities that already lack infrastructure face a higher risk.
“The impact and costs of climate change-induced infrastructure will also have a greater impact on people and communities that are already at economic disadvantage,” the report said.
In its recommendations, the authors say governments need to develop and publish accurate and practical information about climate-related infrastructure risks, while providing regulators with existing and proposed infrastructure to disclose climate change risks. owners should be required.
It also recommends that governments create safety nets for the most vulnerable to justify climate risk pricing.