The risks associated with climate change to economies are real and imminent. Early action to address climate risk and to overcome barriers to implementing adaptation measures should be a priority for decision-makers.
Through proactive action, the City can achieve its climate adaptation goals and simultaneously realize a host of community benefits, including economic development, community health and wellness, and the continued development of a sustainable and liveable City over the decades to come. In fact, research shows that climate adaptation is most cost-effective when solutions work to serve multiple benefactors.
Cities are increasingly recognized as critical to progress in adaptation given their roles in scaling up adaptation of communities, households, and civil society, and in managing risk information and financing. Since local governments invest in capital projects and programs that are expected to serve the City over many decades, decisions can be made today to reduce risk, take advantage of opportunities, and avoid high costs associated with:
- Property destruction and/or damage;
- Infrastructure destruction and/or damage;
- Loss of production;
- Supply chain interruption;
- Unemployment from destroyed or bankrupt businesses;
- Loss of biodiversity and green infrastructure;
- Loss of housing price value; and,
- Lost tax revenue.
The increase in severity and frequency of extreme weather events is perhaps the most costly of climate change impacts. Figure 1 shows a clear rising trend of insurable catastrophic losses in Canada from 1983-2013. While annual insurance losses in Canada due to extreme weather events have previously been “stable” around $400 million a year from 1938-2008, these costs have surpassed $1 billion in insurable damages from 2008-2013 excluding damages from residential overland flooding. In the absence of adaptation, estimates indicate that climate change may cost the people of Canada approximately $5 billion in insurable losses per year by 2020, and between $21 and $43 billion by 2050.