The Climate Institute for Climate Choices has released its third report in its Costs of Climate Change series. According to to the report, UNDER WATER: The Cost of Climate Change For Canada’s Infrastructure, finds that Canada’s infrastructure decisions aren’t accounting for climate change. These risks could leave Canadians under water, physically and financially, threatening future well-being and prosperity.

In response, the report recommends that governments can direct public and private investment toward more resilient and future-fit infrastructure—a good investment that will cost much less in the long run.

Key recommendations

  1. Governments should develop and publish accurate and practical information about climate-related infrastructure risks.

To understand and manage current and future climate change risk and make informed investments in adaptation, governments, corporations, investors, and individuals need actionable and up-to-date risk information. However, current information about future climate change impacts and existing climate risks in Canada is inconsistent and incomplete. To ensure that all owners and investors of infrastructure understand climate risk and can account for it in their decisions, governments must develop useful and consistent climate risk information that is universally accessible.

  1. Governments and regulators should require owners of existing and proposed infrastructure to disclose climate change risks.

Transparency about climate change risk promotes resilient decisions and discourages risky ones. But if infrastructure owners and investors are not made aware of and accountable for climate risk, that risk will grow dramatically as the climate becomes hotter and more volatile. Governments and regulatory bodies should use their authority to ensure that owners, lenders, investors and other financial system actors are analyzing, disclosing, and managing climate risk.

  1. Governments should explicitly evaluate resilience benefits and climate risks for all infrastructure spending and regulatory decisions.

The long lifespan of most infrastructure means governments and others need to start building adaptation and resilience into infrastructure decisions immediately to avoid locking in decades or centuries of additional climate vulnerability. To make this happen, all orders of government should take a long-term, coordinated approach to setting infrastructure standards, funding and planning public infrastructure, regulating infrastructure operation, regulating urban development, evaluating major industrial and resource development projects, and maintaining and operating infrastructure.

  1. Governments should create safety nets for the most vulnerable to make climate risk pricing equitable.

More transparency and disclosure of climate change risk will create price signals that have overall, long-term benefits for reducing climate risk. However, uncontrolled climate change risk pricing could create unsustainable costs for the individuals and communities that are already the most economically vulnerable to climate-related damage—for example by raising mortgage rates or insurance premiums. To avoid negatively impacting those who can already least afford to pay, governments should ensure that economically vulnerable individuals, businesses, and communities are made a priority for adaptation investments and for programs to ensure access to insurance and credit

To read the complete report, click here.

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