On February 27, 2020, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) and the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) released a report entitled “Investing in Canada’s Future: The Cost of Climate Adaptation at the Local Level.” The report, which reveals new data demonstrating the urgent need for new investment in local climate adaptation and the areas where it’s needed most, is the first of its kind to quantify the cost for municipalities.

As the risk of more frequent severe weather events increases due to climate change, many areas across the country are becoming riskier to insure. Municipalities are on the front lines of climate change and require significant investment to protect the public, property and businesses from the devastating effects of climate change.

The report indicates that avoiding the worst impacts of climate change at the municipal level will cost an estimated $5.3 billion per year, or equivalent to 0.26 per cent of Canada’s gross domestic product (GDP). Studies have shown that investments in resilient infrastructure have a return on investment of $6 in future averted losses for every $1 spent proactively. Those investments are critical to helping local communities adapt to the changing climate and to reduce risks to Canadians from extreme weather.

“When homes, businesses, farmland, and public infrastructure are hurt by extreme weather events, Canadians feel it in their communities first,” said Bill Karsten, president of FCM. “Municipal leaders are prioritizing resiliency in their towns and cities, but there’s more we can and must do. FCM is proud to partner on the development of this crucial new data that underscores the importance of greater investment in municipal adaptation and prevention amidst the effects of a changing environment. All orders of government can work together to protect the public infrastructure that Canadians rely on in their neighbourhoods.”

Given the scale and size of the long-term cost of adapting to climate change, the report recommends that future research and analysis by all levels of government should consider innovative ways in which private sector capital can be utilized to support enhanced community resilience.

“Across the country, Canadians are feeling the devastating impacts of climate change as the financial and emotional costs continue to rise. Governments need to collaborate in funding the resilient infrastructure needed to protect Canadians from flooding, wind and wildfires,” said Don Forgeron, president and CEO of IBC. “Given the size of the estimated investment needed at the local level, government should consider how the private sector and how private finance can help make our communities more resilient.”

The report also found that Canada’s eastern and northern regions are generally most in need of adaptation investments, especially with regard to risks from flooding, erosion and melting permafrost. Among infrastructure priorities, buildings, dikes and roads require the most urgent upgrades.

To read the complete report, click here.

To view the “Cost of Climate Adaptation” video, click here.

Featured image of storm in Sexsmith, Alberta, Canada by Max LaRochelle @maxlarochelle.

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