Climate Adaptation: Planning for BC

This paper summarizes key principles of adaptation, explores climate challenges for nine top-of-mind issues, and makes recommendations to help advance action.

This paper was commissioned by the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions as one of a set of eight white papers intended as briefings to the BC government as the new Institute developed its mandate.

Awareness of the need for climate change adaptation is growing. While adaptation has by necessity been built into certain climate vulnerable sectors, the pace of change will have a profound effect in economic, environmental and social terms, and major impacts to resources and infrastructure are already galvanizing planning in sectors such as BC’s forestry industry.

As we move ahead with planning for responses to the challenges, it is essential to acknowledge the links between adaptation and mitigation, or emissions reduction. Both concepts require major investment in research, education and infrastructure, and coordination of these actions would be beneficial in developing “smart adaptation” that supports comprehensive, effective responses.

Smart adaptation policies cut across all major government functions—infrastructure, energy, water, economic development, resource management, agriculture—and therefore require an integrated response as part of a long term strategy. Best practices indicate that one lead agency must be identified to guide this approach, and that funding must derive from the combined public, private and non-profit sectors, as no one sector alone will have sufficient resources.

This paper notes that BC’s Climate Action Secretariat (CAS) has already assumed a leadership role on mitigation, and the provincial government is currently building momentum on adaptation; it would therefore be ideal for the CAS to integrate smart adaptation into its mandate, and to lead this planning as a complement to the work already being done.