Global Warming Could Cost Canada Billions, Study Warns
A report by an advisory board to the government of Canada estimates that the effects of global warming will cost the country’s economy 5 billion Canadian dollars a year by 2020 and that those costs will rise substantially afterward.
Unlike earlier studies, the report does not examine the costs of reducing greenhouse gas emissions; it looked at the economic consequences of global warming.
“The costs we could incur from climate change are the costs of continuously adjusting to changing conditions,” the advisory board, the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy, said. “Although harder to calculate and less immediately apparent, they are real and significant and bear understanding.”
The study’s authors — a committee of academics, business executives and environmentalists — conclude that even with immediate and substantial action on reining in greenhouse gas emissions, Canada’s economy will not escape significant climate-change costs. Those will range from effects on agriculture and forestry to rising health care costs in cities and flooding in coastal areas.
The study ran several different computer models and concluded that depending on the rate at which the planet’s temperature increases, the cost to Canada could reach 21 billion to 43 billion dollars a year by 2050.
“Our estimates demonstrate the potential scale of the economic challenge facing Canada from climate change,” the study said. “They highlight the importance of investing in strategies to adapt to the damages we are likely to incur over the next few decades.”
Since assuming power in 2006, Canada’s current Conservative government has abandoned the country’s earlier commitments to reducing greenhouse gases and adopted less ambitious targets. Many environmentalists argue that it has not introduced policies that will allow it to achieve even the less ambitious goals it has set.
But Peter Kent, Canada’s environment minister, suggested on Thursday that the Round Table report was an endorsement of the government’s policies.
“We’re moving forward to reduce greenhouse gases, and at the same time we’re investing in programs to help Canadians adapt to climate change,” Mr. Kent told reporters. “Today’s report merely echoes what our government has long recognized, and that is the importance of adaptation to climate change.”
Environmentalists had a different reading.
“I’m not aware of any actual investments in adapting other than trying to produce oil in the high Arctic, if you call that adaptation,” said John Bennett, executive director of the Sierra Club Canada. “This government refuses to recognize that there’s a cost to not acting.”