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‘Historic achievement’ as British Columbia replaces its 105-year old Water Act

Ted_van_der_Gulik“The Act provides a new opportunity and framework to collaborate and implement watershed-based solutions,” says Ted van der Gulik, President of the Partnership for Water Sustainability in British Columbia.

On April 29, 2014 the British Columbia Legislature passed the Water Sustainability Act (Bill 18). The Act recognizes the connection between land use actions and the implications for the both the water cycle and watershed sustainability. This means the Act will have widespread impacts on how water and land practitioners conduct their work. 

Completion of the enactment process involves development of regulations and Royal Assent. The Province’s plan is that the Water Sustainability Act will come into force in 2015. In the meantime, the first phase of work will be undertaken this year and will comprise groundwater regulations as well as a number of other tools.

“A decade in the making, the new Water Sustainability Act truly is an historic achievement. Provincial staff merit accolades for their diligence and commitment in developing an Act that moves the province in the right direction,” states Ted van der Gulik, President of the Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC. Recently retired from government, he observed the roles that government staff had and the approach that was taken.

“Developing and crafting the Act was a difficult and challenging job, as there are many views on water, many of them conflicting. Provincial staff consulted far and wide to ensure a diversity of input. The end result is legislation that has broad-based support.”

“There are many water management issues that need to be resolved and the new Act has established a process that can address many of them. For example, BC is one of the few remaining jurisdictions in North America that have yet to licence groundwater, something that will now be rectified.”

“Also, proclamation in 2015 of the provision that allows for the development of  Water Sustainability Plans will enhance food security by securing water for future development of agricultural lands; ensure critical environmental flows for survival of fish and other aquatic habitat; promote a water balance way-of-thinking; and establish a water reporting system so that water is used beneficially.”

“The Partnership for Water Sustainability is already working with the Province on an array of programs that support implementation of the Water Sustainability Act as well as a water balance way-of-thinking in the local government setting.  Notable examples of collaboration include the Water Sustainability Action Plan, released in 2004, and the Georgia Basin Inter-Regional Education Initiative, launched in 2012.”

“The Partnership is the lead entity for existing web-based tools that will support implementation of future Water Sustainability Plans in populated areas. These include the Water Balance Model andWater Balance Model Express for Landowners for watershed-based rainwater management; and the Water Conservation Calculator for water supply planning. In addition, the Partnership is assisting the Ministry of Agriculture to expand province-wide application of the Agriculture Water Demand Model because it will be useful in the Water Sustainability planning process.”

“BC is at the dawn of an exciting new era in water and watershed management. The Water Sustainability Act provides a fresh opportunity and framework for a uniquely British Columbian ‘top-down / bottom-up’ approach. The provincial government, local governments, stewardship sector and others can formally align efforts and collaborate to implement watershed-based solutions,” concludes Ted van der Gulik.

TO LEARN MORE: For a summary of what is in the Water Sustainability Act, download an Overview of the Legislative Proposal. For much more information, check out the Water Sustainability Act website. 

The Partnership for Water Sustainability is the hub for a “convening for action” network in the local government setting. The Partnership believes that water and watershed sustainability in the local government setting will be achieved by implementing green infrastructure policies and practices. How BC communities get there relies on a change in mind-set and “land ethic”. The mission of the Partnership is to help facilitate that change. 

To learn more, click on ABOUT THE PARTNERSHIP.

 

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Climate Change Class Action Filed By Insurers Against Cities In Chicago Region

A recently filed lawsuit headed by Illinois Farmers Insurance Company against municipalities in Cook County, Illinois, should act as a serious wake up for local governments ignoring their management of climate change.

The lawsuit, Illinois Farmers Insurance Company and Farmers Insurance Exchange v The Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago sees the insurer and all of its subsidiaries filling a request for a class action and jury trial against approximately 100 cities, villages and townships in the Cook County region (including the City of Chicago).

The legal action is based on a heavy rainfall event in the region on the 17th and 18th of April 2013. The Plaintiffs state that the Defendants, amongst other things, failed to “adopt and/or implement policies which would maximize the stormwater storage capacity of its stormwater sewers and sanitary water sewers so as to prevent injury to Members of the Plaintiff’ Class” (p.21).

Interestingly the legal action specifically mentions climate change:

…defendant knew or should have known that climate change in Cook County has resulted in greater rain fall volume, greater rainfall intensity and greater rainfall duration than pre1970 rainfall history evidenced, resulting in greater stormwater runoff from a rainfall with Cook County and its Watersheds. (p.20)

This legal action is a very interesting case and is at the very heart of the local government / insurance nexus. Climate Planning will be following and reporting on this case it as it unfolds.  Please click here or to download the action or here for the original article.

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Lloyd’s calls on insurers to take into account climate-change risk

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A home damaged by Superstorm Sandy in 2013 in the Staten Island borough of New York City. Photograph: John Moore/Getty Images

Lloyd’s of London, the world’s oldest and biggest insurance market, has for the first time called on insurers to incorporate climate change into their models.

The call to action comes a day after a landmark US report, named the National Climate Assessment, which has warned that climate change is wreaking havoc across the US.

Lloyd’s says damage and weather-related losses around the world have increased from an annual average of $50bn in the 1980s to close to $200bn over the last 10 years.

 

Read the full article here.

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Post-Sandy, Designers Are Forced to Imagine Asking People to Move

Screenshot 2014-04-28 10.17.29The numerous re-planning efforts after Hurricane Sandy have produced enticing renderings of designer dunes and fish-filled inland bays. Yet there’s been little serious discussion of what happens when rising seas put many of those happy places underwater — until now.

Among the ten ambitious proposals unveiled earlier this month by Rebuild by Design, the high-speed, invited competition sponsored by a presidential task force, two teams tiptoed into the fraught territory of what’s called Managed Retreat. They imagined how to entice people to seek safer refuge from their beloved shore.

Read the full article here.

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Invitation: “Green Growth” experts debate, April 29th, uOttawa, hosted by Paulk Kennedy of CBC Ideas

Sustainable Prosperity and University of Ottawa are hosting a live debate on Green Growth: Can Profits help the Planet.

The debate will feature four of North America’s top experts on this vital issue.  It will take place Tuesday April 29th, 3:30pm at uOttawa.  An edited version (with audience questions) will be broadcast at a later date on CBC Radio’s Ideas.  

To register to attend, or for more information, see below.

Can we reconcile a growing economy with a finite planet? Can we shift to ‘green growth’ for a healthier environment and economy? If so, how?

CBC Radio’s Paul Kennedy, host of Ideas, moderates a debate at the University of Ottawa, on one of the most critical questions of our time.  The participants are four of the continents leading experts on this issue:

  • Nancy Olewiler.  Economics Professor and Director of the Public Policy School at Simon Fraser University; author of widely-read books on environmental and resource economics;  ACT Board member and Co-Founder.
  • Avrim Lazar.  Former CEO of the Forest Products Association of Canada; led the industry’s major shift towards sustainability.
  • Joshua Farley.  Economics Professor, University of Vermont; author ofEcological Economics, Principles and Applications (with Herman Daly)
  • Stewart Elgie.  Professor of Law & Economics and Director of the Environment institute, University of Ottawa;  Chair of Sustainable Prosperity.

Date: Tuesday, April 29th, 2014 at 3:30 pm.

Location:  Faculty of Social Sciences, Room 4007, University of Ottawa, 120 University Private.

Space is limited, registration is required.

 

To register for the event, or for more information, please go to www.sustainableprosperity.caThe debate will be only in English.
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CBC News: Extreme weather is the new normal

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CBC reports that climate specialists are calling for a national strategy to help Canadians prepare for extreme weather.

View the short video here.

The CBC report includes interviews with Bob Sandford, ACT Water Governance author and senior water policy adviser, and Dr. Gordon McBean, Chair of the Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Sciences, Co-Principal Investigator of the Coastal Cities at Risk Project and ACT Climate Change Adaptation and Extreme Weather report author.

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Big Ideas for Sustainable Prosperity Conference – April 28 & 29 – Join us over webcast!

Research Conference – April 28 & 29, 2014

Conference Webcast

The Sustainable Prosperity research-policy network is bringing together some of the world’s pre-eminent environment & economy thinkers for a two day research conference to share knowledge and think big about Policy Innovation for Greening Growth.

Join us online Monday, April 28 & Tuesday April 29 for fascinating panels, inspiring keynotes & powerful conversation.

Keynotes & Speakers

Marianne Fay, World Bank, Chief Economist, Sustainable Development & Climate Change

Jeremy Oppenheim, McKinsey, and Global Commission on the Economy and Climate

Geoffrey Heal, Columbia, and Earth Institute

Kathryn Harrison, UBC

James Meadowcroft, Carleton (CRC)

Matthew Kahn, UCLA

Vic Adamowicz, Alberta

Richard Lipsey, SFU

Anne Dale, Royal Roads (CRC)

Peter Nicholson, Council of Can. Academies

Ed Barbier, Wyoming, and author of New Blueprint for a Green Economy

 

Visit our conference website  for the full schedule and list of speakers.

Or join the conversation online by following #SPBigIdeas

 

 

 

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Join DSF and David Suzuki for a movie night at the Rio!

FREE tickets for SFU staff &  students. RSVP to Ryan Kadowaki at rkadowaki@davidsuzuki.org and he will put you on the guest list. The event information is below.

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Join the David Suzuki Foundation for the Vancouver premiere of Climate Change in Atlantic Canada on April 24. The evening will include a screening of the documentary followed by Q&A and a panel discussion with David Suzuki and filmmaker Ian Mauro. Dialogue will focus on issues facing communities and the leadership required to navigate our collective future.

Location

Rio Theatre
1660 East Broadway
Vancouver, B.C.

Date

April 24, 7 to 9 p.m.
Doors: 6:30 p.m.

About the film

Across Atlantic Canada, coastlines and communities are being adversely affected by climate change, and as temperatures, sea levels and storm surges increase, mitigation and adaptation initiatives are being planned and implemented to navigate the impending storm. Ian Mauro and his multi-media research team used video to document this remarkable story of climate change in Atlantic Canada and conducted over 100 semi-structured interviews with stakeholders across the region, including researchers, local and traditional knowledge holders, government officials and industry.

Using cutting-edge multi-media research techniques, the objective of this project is to assess and present the challenges and opportunities facing Atlantic Canadians, as their environment, cities and municipalities, and mechanisms for societal governance experience often immense and immediate climatic changes. The results of the project suggest four main thematic case studies – focused on climate, communities, mitigation and adaptation – leading to this documentary and multi-media website to showcase the results. Given the high-impact nature of digital media, this project seeks to increase awareness and educational opportunities for Canadians about the real-world experiences and responses of coastal communities, which are on the front lines of climate change.

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A Risk Analyst Explains Why Climate Change Risk Misperception Doesn’t Necessarily Matter

Screenshot 2014-04-21 16.34.36Climate change doesn’t feel “It can happen to ME” personal. It doesn’t feel immediate/imminent. It doesn’t feel…well…real. It’s more of an idea, a concept, an abstraction. Who “thinks globally” about climate? We wake up in the local here-and-now and check today’s weather.

These influential components of risk perception psychology, of our Inconvenient Mind, identify opportunities to frame climate change in ways that are emotionally resonant to the audiences that climate communicators are trying to influence.

Read the full article here.

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California Suffers Astonishingly Fast Snowpack Melt as Drought Intensifies

Screenshot 2014-04-21 16.26.57While the drought conditions in California and Texas were likely initially triggered by natural variability, such as ocean temperature patterns in the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, studies show that manmade global warming can intensify such conditions by raising temperatures and increasing evaporation. In addition, a new study found that manmade global warming likely intensified the weather pattern that has kept California so dry since 2013.

Read the full article here.

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New hurricane maps will show whether your house could drown

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The federal government will begin making its hurricane warning maps more colorful this summer, adding a range of hues to represent the danger of looming floods.

Red, orange, yellow, and blue will mark coastal and near-coastal areas where storm surges are anticipated during a hurricane. The different colors will be used to show the anticipated depth of approaching flash floods.

Severe flooding that followed Superstorm Sandy helped prompt the change — NOAA says it had a hard time convincing Manhattanites that they faced any real danger from such floods.

Read the full article here.

 

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Canadian economy will lose billions to climate change: report

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A new report on the financial implications of climate change notes that while natural catastrophes are estimated to cost Canadians $21-$43 billion per year by 2050, popular economic measures like GDP fail to capture the escalation, discouraging preventative investment.

The TD report follows a recent and alarming warning by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that governments are ill-prepared for a warming world. If action is not immediately taken, the UN report projected risks could become unmanageable.

Monday’s report detailed the Canadian perspective on increasingly frequent natural catastrophes — the average number per year has doubled over the past three decades — and how by 2020 they will sap an estimated $5 billion from the economy.

Read the full article here.

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Bombshell: Study Ties Epic California Drought, ‘Frigid East’ To Manmade Climate Change

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Natural variability alone cannot explain the extreme weather pattern that has driven both the record-setting California drought and the cooler weather seen in the Midwest and East this winter, a major new study finds.

A new study in Geophysical Research Letters (subs. req’d) takes the warming link to the California drought to the next level of understanding. It concludes, “there is a traceable anthropogenic warming footprint in the enormous intensity of the anomalous ridge during winter 2013-14, the associated drought and its intensity.”

Read the full article here.

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Managing risk through catastrophe insurance: Reducing the fiscal and economic impact of disasters

This paper, released by the Insurance Bureau of Canada, offers an in-depth look at how insurance helps to lower the economic and fiscal costs of natural disasters. It demonstrates that insurance is an efficient and effective way to mitigate these impacts. The research presented here can help policy-makers, and homeowners plan for disaster risk and management decisions.

Access the full document here.

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Acclimatise: Climate Change Resilience in Europe – A snapshot of the private sector

The CDP report “Climate Change Resilience in Europe” provides actionable insight for businesses and serves as an invaluable tool to facilitate informed decision making by business leaders, governments and policy makers across Europe.

The report’s key findings include:

– Businesses identify two climate risks by climate change for every one opportunity (responding companies identified 780 risks compared to 379 opportunities).

– The most anticipated risk companies cite is a reduction or disruption in production capacity (32% of all reported risks).

– Two in five companies anticipate increased demand for existing goods and services (43% of all reported opportunities). One in five expect new products or services to be profitable in a changing climate (18% of all reported opportunities).

– Risks are perceived differently across sectors, with financial companies accounting for nearly one third of all critical risks mentioned in the survey (33%), followed by consumer discretionary companies (25%).

Download the full report here.

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Look on bright side of climate change, says IPCC report author

Screenshot 2014-04-21 15.00.43Doom and gloom about the impacts of climate change risks preventing effective action being taken to tackle it, one of the lead scientists in a major UN report into the impacts of global warming has said.

Chris Field, co-chairman of the working group of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), called for more positivity about the “really exciting opportunities” to adapt to the impacts of climate change.

Read the full article here.

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