Canada's Adaptation Platform: Projects and Results

Published: 8th November 2017 10:27Last Updated: 8th November 2017 10:27
hydroelectricity the yukon

A hydroelectric dam in the Yukon. © Cathie Archbould. 

Introduction

Established in 2012, Canada’s Climate Change Adaptation Platform is a national forum that brings together key groups in Canada to collaborate on climate change adaptation priorities. Members include representatives from federal, provincial, and territorial governments, industry, communities, academics, and Indigenous, professional, and not-for-profit organizations.

A changing climate presents a wide range of risks and opportunities that cut across regions, sectors and disciplines. Canada's economy, infrastructure, health and social well-being are already being impacted, and these impacts will continue in the future. Adapting to these impacts requires collaborative action to reduce vulnerability, manage risks, and prepare for potential opportunities.

The Adaptation Platform aims to create an enabling environment for adaptation, where decision-makers in regions and industry are equipped with the tools and information they need to adapt to a changing climate.*

This report** summarises the progress and results of adaptation projects which have been implemented across Canada in multiple different sectors of industry, such as energy and mining, and in different environments, such as coastal or urban areas.

*This brief summary of Canada's Adaptation Platform comes from their website (click the link below for more information).

**Download the full report from the right-hand column.

Summary

The report covers 11 different working groups, each presenting its unique adaptation challenges for specific stakeholders. These working groups are briefly described below:

  • Coastal management: Provides a forum to address common issues and needs related to adaptation in Canada's coastal zone.
  • Economics: Creates economic knowledge and tools that help decision-makers in both the private and public sectors make better adaptation investment choices and policy decisions.
  • Energy: Provides a forum to help address common issues related to adaptation in the energy sector.
  • Forestry: Addresses the adaptation of sustainable forest management to changing climatic conditions.
  • Infrastructure and buildings: Builds capacity, generates evidence and provides outreach to increase the capability of infrastructure managers, municipalities, builders, insurers, engineers and other relevant stakeholders to adapt and facilitate adaptation to climate change.
  • Measuring progress: Shares lessons learned and best practices, tools and methodologies for measuring progress on adaptation to climate change.
  • Mining: Helps facilitate a more resilient and sustainable mining sector in a changing climate.
  • Northern: Provides a forum where adaptation priorities are identified, and a Program of Work is established to address common issues and needs related to adaptation in northern Canada.
  • Regional Adaptation Collaboratives (RACs) and tools sythesis: Building on the Regional Adaptation Collaborative Program's completed/planned products & activities to further advance adaptation decision-making in Canada.
  • Science assessment: Helping facilitate the development and dissemination of scientifically-rigorous syntheses of existing knowledge concerning climate change risks, opportunities and adaptation in Canada. Science assessments include value-added analysis that is policy relevant but not policy prescriptive.
  • Enhancing uptake and use of resources: To increase the uptake and use of existing information and resources related to climate change adaptation in communities.

Key findings (abridged)

The case studies presented in the report reflect a number of key findings. These are summarised by working group: 

Coastal management

  • Adaptation should be at least a consideration, if not a key driver of coastal (re)development projects. This is with respect to probable impacts of climate change such as sea level rise.
  • A variety of tools have been developed in order to asses adaptation options, including guidance documents, two dozen engineering tools and fifty land use planning tools. These include the ADAPTool to analyse policy options for the transport sector in Hudson Bay, and the Atlantic Decision Tree.
  • Both qualitative and quantitative data produced for sea level rise and coastal processes such as erosion have been generated in a number of case studies.
    • These projections are useful for numerous stakeholders such as policy makers, local communities and industry.
    • In particular, specific case studies relate to Prince Edward Island (PEI) which could also be relevant to similar high-latitude island localities. 

Economics

  • A variety of economic instruments (financial, behavioural, informational and governmental) could be adopted to assess and address the risk climate change poses to Canada's forests, finance sector and infrastructural development.
  • More emphasis is being placed on climate change adaptation in higher educational settings by equiping people with the skills necessary to integrate CCA with business.

Energy 

  • Cimate change poses risks but also potential opportunities for Canada's energy sector. For example, Yukon's energy industry could suffer from more frequent extreme weather events, resulting in difficulties transforming and transporting energy. However, predicted warmer winters could be beneficial as decreased demand for electricity (e.g. for heating) may increase system resilience in winter due to decreased loading. 

Infrastructure and buildings 

  • This working group has prduced a number of highly accessible best practice guides drawn from municipalities across Canada outlining the approaches which can be applied during construction. One example is best practice on limiting the infiltration of wastewater, an issue which may become more pertinent with storms likely to increase in frequency under climate change.

Measuring progress 

  • Innovative projects for assessing climate change adaptation progress exist across Canada at the national, regional, local community and sectorial scales. 
  • They bridge economic, environmental, social and cultural impacts of climate change.

Mining

  • Case studies such as 'Climate change planning at Glencore in Sudbury, Ontario'  and 'Enhancing weather resiliency at Nyrstar Myra Falls' provide sources of information for other mining operations around Canada on how their businesses may be affected by climate change.
  • Modelling tools are available for companies to assess the current cost of adapting to climate change versus responding to impacts as they occur. 

Northern

  • Detailed hazard maps have been developed to assess northern Canada's vulnerability to climate change. 
  • The Arctic Adaptation Exchange (AAE) has been established. The AAE facilitates knowledge exchange on climate change adaptation in the circumpolar Arctic, and serves as a central information hub for communities, researchers and decision-makers in the public and private sectors.​

Regional Adaptations Collaboratives and Tools Synthesis

  • The Adaptation Library has been established. 
    • It is a publicly accessible and searchable collection of community-related products developed through the Natural Resources Canada Regional Adaptation Collaborative (RACs) and Tools for Adaptation Programs.
    • The goal of the Library is to connect community and municipal users with relevant information related to local climate change adaptation. 

Science assessment 

  • Reports such as 'Canada in a Changing Climateshow that the understanding of climate change impacts and adaptation in Canada is increasing, both as a result of new research and through practical experience. Led by Natural Resources Canada, the development of 'Canada in a Changing Climate'  involved over 90 authors and 115 expert reviewers, and synthesized over 1500 recent publications.

Enhancing uptake and use of resources 

  • Several initiatives have been established to enhance the use of available resources for climate change adaptation. For example, a workshop to train Alberta municipalities on how to use the Climate Resilience Express Action Kit was held in February 2016, in Olds, Alberta.
  • This kit will help these municipalities plan for and manage the local impacts of climate change, build business cases for resilience planning, and support pilot communities in developing their own climate resilience action plans. 

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