"We can predict and project the climate change impacts that are coming down the line for our regions in Canada," said Deborah Harford, a member of the expert panel, "and because we know that, we can think strategically about how to reduce damage and respond proactively." - CBC News

In a conversation with CBC News, ACT Executive Director Deborah Harford discusses the conclusions of the most recent report from the Council of Canadian Academies. The report, entitled Climate Change Risks for Canadians brings together expert panelists to discuss the most acute climate change risks facing Canadians today. These risks include impacts on physical infrastructure, human health and well-being, fisheries and ecosystems, and impacts to coastal and northern communities.

As Harford outlines to CBC, adaptation opportunities with meaningful impacts are there, we just need to know where they are, and how to respond and apply them effectively. For example, “building back better”; in the wake of natural disasters that are costly and destructive, the rebuilding process can be an opportunity to upgrade physical infrastructure, while embedding synergistic adaptation and mitigation policy. Not only is physical infrastructure something that can upgraded and modified more easily and effectively than other areas of risk, but it is an area where governments already understand what needs to be done.

“Although adaptation isn’t a household word, you scratch the surface on any community that’s already facing severe flood damage, and let me tell you: They are doing adaptation.” – Deborah Harford, for CBC News

The article continues to warn of maladaptation, outlining that sometimes the things that we believe protect us, such as dikes and levees, lead to a false sense of security and a lack of community knowledge. However, there are many adaptation measures that, if taken properly, will result in co-benefits. The example cited in the article, is planting trees. Trees can reduce floodwater risks by absorbing stormwater, can reduce the Urban Heat Island effect through urban shading and evapotranspiration, and also contribute to mitigation by reducing the need for air conditioning and sequestering carbon.

The Climate Change Risks for Canadians report, released July 4, 2019, is an effective tool for understanding which types of risks can be managed by adaptation measures, and also explores how the federal government can best inform its decision-making in response to these risks.