The Canadian Institute for Climate Choices has released its latest report, the first in a series on the costs of climate change.

The report, “Tip of the Iceberg: Navigating the Known and Unknown Costs of Climate Change for Canada,” reveals that the costs of climate change are massive and mounting. But the institute argues that there is an opportunity to act now to reduce some of the most critical risks.

The authors claim that climate change is already costing Canada billions of dollars each year. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Proactively investing in adaptation solutions and increasing resilience to a changing climate will help keep many of these costs in check.

The data indicates that over the past five decades, the costs of weather-related disasters like floods, storms, and wildfires have risen from tens of millions of dollars to billions of dollars annually in Canada. Insured losses for catastrophic weather events totalled over $18 billlion between 2010 and 2019, and the number of catastrophic events was over three times higher than in the 1980s.

The combined losses per weather-related disaster have also ballooned—rising from an average of $8.3 million per event in the 1970s to an average of $112 million between 2010–2019, including public and private costs. This change represents a staggering increase.

As climate change makes weather patterns more extreme and volatile, disasters are becoming more frequent and more expensive. In previous decades, the cost of weather-related disasters was roughly equivalent to one per cent of Canada’s annual gross domestic product (GDP) growth. In the last decade, disaster costs have climbed to between five and six per cent of annual GDP growth.

Excerpts from the Executive Summary:

If we think of the costs of climate change as an iceberg ahead, this introductory paper aims to zoom in on the tip of the iceberg—the known and measurable hazards—as well as the contours of what lies below the water. As policy makers, business leaders, communities and individuals cope with the current impacts of climate change and prepare for a future defined by climate disruption, both parts of the iceberg should be top-of-mind in risk assessments, investment planning, and policy decisions.

Our analysis of existing data and research finds that climate change is already having noticeable impacts throughout our economy and our society, and those impacts are poised to grow dramatically. The full impacts of climate change will affect Canada in ways that have not yet been properly assessed or considered. Moreover, many climate-related impacts are difficult to quantify in dollar terms but have huge significance for the well-being of Canadians and Indigenous peoples.


To read the full report, click here.

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