Insurance Bureau Canada:

Canadian communities need to adapt to avoid the projected increasing costs due to climate change, according to a new study by Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC). The Study of Economic Impacts of the Weather Effects of Climate Change, released today, estimates some of the future costs to the Halifax, N.S., and Mississauga, Ont., communities from specific severe weather events stemming from climate change. It points to the need to increase infrastructure investments now to reduce costs down the road.

“Halifax, Mississauga and other Canadian municipalities are working hard to adapt to changes in our climate. But they can’t do it alone,” said Amanda Dean, Vice-President, Atlantic, IBC. “Municipalities tell us they need cooperation and funding from provincial and federal governments to prepare. This study provides a partial analysis of the significant costs of severe weather events in our future.”

Researchers looked at two severe weather events per city. For Halifax, they studied extreme winds and storm surge flooding. For Mississauga, they considered ice storms and stormwater flooding.

For each weather event, the researchers calculated what the economic costs to the city could be as a result of these weather events five years out (in 2020) and 25 years out (in 2040). They also considered the effect of worsening climate change, and ran the numbers for 2020 and 2040 three times – first using the cities’ current climate conditions, and then assuming moderate and high acceleration in the rate of climate change. Here are some of the results:

For Halifax by 2040:

  • The annualized loss expectancy from extreme wind events could be about $18 million. A moderate increase in the rate of climate change could increase this figure to $20 million.
  • One extreme wind event (calculated as a 1-in-25-year event) could cost an estimated $123 million to $126 million.

For Mississauga by 2040:

  • The annualized loss expectancy from ice storms could be about $9 million. A moderate increase in the rate of climate change could increase this figure to about $12 million per year.
  • One severe ice storm (calculated as a 1-in-25-year event) could cost an estimated $23 million to $38 million.

“As a port city, Halifax is acutely aware of the sea level rise occurring in its harbour, and the need to prepare for more extreme weather conditions,” said Shannon Miedema, Acting Manager of Energy & Environment for the Halifax Regional Municipality. “Halifax was an early adopter of greenhouse gas emissions tracking and reduction targets, and our Mayor recently signed on to the Compact of Mayors to show commitment and support in the lead up to the 2015 Paris Climate Conference (COP21). Halifax is also active in climate adaptation and resilience building efforts, incorporating these considerations into our policies, plans and projects. This study helps us make a business case to take action in the short term, alongside our efforts to take a precautionary approach to decision-making.”

“In Mississauga, we’re working with other levels of government to study the impacts of climate change so that we can prepare ourselves to prevent future impacts,” said Brenda Osborne, Director of Environment for the City of Mississauga. “Currently we’re working with the Peel Climate Change Strategy Partnership to examine risks and impacts to the community from climate change as well as implementing a stormwater charge to better maintain and expand our stormwater infrastructure.”

Across Canada, insured damages from extreme weather events have cost almost $8 billion since 2010, which is only a portion of the total economic costs to the country. Research, including the IBC study released today, is key to assisting governments, companies and Canadians to prepare for the future effects of climate change. The Canadian home, auto and business insurance industry is advocating for adaptation to climate change to help individuals and communities reduce their risk.

IBC conducted the Study of the Economic Impact of the Weather Effects of Climate Change with support from Natural Resources Canada through Canada’s Adaptation Platform. The study was conducted with the support of Team Green Analytics (Green Analytics Corp. & Ontario Centre for Climate Impacts and Adaptation Resources). The full study, which includes an executive summary, and a backgrounder are available at www.ibc.ca.

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