[Opinion] Adapting to the climate crisis is now
A few days before the start of COP27, the annual international climate conference, one issue stands out more than ever: adaptation. And governments must step up to meet the challenges of climate change, both at home and around the world.
First, we must point out the obvious: even if we succeed in rapidly reducing our greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions — which is far from being done, we will have to adapt to climate change. which is already very real.
We are currently at 1.2°C of warming and, according to the latest UN report, current commitments lead us to a significant increase of 2.4 to 2.6°C by the end of the century.
The urgency to adapt
This is why, during the COPs, we rightly talk about climate targets and plans: the “how”. How are we going to go about limiting global warming? Except that more and more voices are being raised to highlight two other equally essential questions: “How do we prepare for these immense challenges? and « Who will pay for the damage? » « .
Inseparable, these last two questions underline the urgency of showing solidarity at the international level. Many vulnerable countries already battered by the worst effects of the climate crisis have been telling us for years: “We have both feet in it. Soon, you will too. »
And this warning, tinged with a little more bitterness and anger each year, is repeated in a context where the developed countries are still slow to respect their commitment to mobilize each year 100 billion American dollars to help the developing countries to adapt to the changing climate and pay the bill for the enormous damage it causes to their homes. And according to a report published last week, we have barely reached 83% of this objective which should have been achieved… in 2020!
We can no longer ignore them or refuse to make our contribution to help them, because their climatic destiny is intimately linked to ours. Expectations of Ottawa and Quebec at COP27 are high in this regard.
Issues of climate adaptation and reparation are also concerns that we should have at home. Our governments must move, because not only are they behind, but they are also responsible for correcting the mistakes of the past.
At COP27, Minister Guilbeault and his government are expected to present Canada’s first National Adaptation Strategy. To be serious, this plan must be detailed and inspired by international best practices. Every dollar invested now to adapt our infrastructures and our living environments will allow us to save many more when we are again hit by more and more numerous and more and more powerful extreme weather events. Our health and safety are at stake.
In Quebec, during the recent flooding in Montreal, powerful storms that left thousands of us without power in the spring, and hurricane Fiona in the Magdalen Islands, we reacted urgently rather than having an overall vision and strategy to limit the consequences. All of this was expensive in terms of infrastructure and insurance. These are living environments that have been heavily disturbed or completely destroyed. What’s more, the subject was almost not broached during the last election campaign, and no plan is foreseen.
The only glimmer of hope? The mayors of Quebec’s major cities have proposed a financial pact to deal with a climate that is more violent and unpredictable than ever. The municipal sector has its eyes wide open: we see the challenges accumulating and the bill increasing. The Government of Quebec must take note of this and work together with the cities to plan the future, which necessarily involves reviewing our choices in terms of land use planning and mobility, for example.
At the dawn of a new round of climate negotiations in Egypt, let us therefore demand that our governments be proactive and ambitious, both here and on the international stage. The solutions exist, but the political will and the money are needed to implement them. Waiting is not an option. Adaptation is now.
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