What comes to mind when you think of the costs of climate change?
Are they parched fields or unprecedented heat waves? A wildfire sweeping through a city in British Columbia or Alberta? A house swallowed up by a flooded river in Manitoba or Quebec?
These events are devastating and momentous — and yes, they represent some of the costs of climate change that Canada is already paying.
But climate change is not just about isolated extreme weather events. They are not costs to someone else, somewhere else, at some point in the future. The costs of climate change are already here today. They are already driving up the cost of living for Canadians, and they will increase significantly in the years to come.
Climate change is hitting your wallet in hundreds of ways, from higher grocery bills due to supply chain disruption, to skyrocketing insurance premiums on your home and cottage, to the inevitable hikes in taxes to pay for climate damage and climate-proof infrastructure.
That’s the main takeaway from a report due Wednesday from the Canadian Climate Institute: the effects of climate change are a current and growing drag on the economy, plummeting GDP, depressing investment and exports. and killing jobs — and Canadians will bear the bulk of those costs. Households face a double whammy: climate change is driving up spending, while economic opportunities evaporate due to slowing growth.
For more than three years, the Canadian Climate Institute has been researching the costs of climate change, and that research culminated in the report titled “Damage Control: Reducing the Costs of Climate Impacts in Canada”. We ran 84 different scenarios, including two distinct global emissions scenarios and a range of plausible Canadian climate change impacts, and tested the results through an expert review process to reveal the picture. the most detailed to date of what climate change is doing to Canada. economy.
Perhaps the most important finding is this: climate change is no longer a distant threat; it’s here today, and it’s really hurting the Canadian economy. Our research shows that as early as 2025 – just over two years from now – climate damage will slow Canada’s economic growth by $25 billion a year, or about half of our economy’s projected annual growth. Beyond 2025, the damage will intensify, potentially eliminating half a million jobs by 2050 and nearly three million jobs by the end of the century.
Fortunately, Canada is not powerless against this threat. Our research shows that proactive adaptation measures to protect Canadians can cut the costs of climate change in half. Canada must quickly scale up its adaptation and investment strategies to match the scale of the risk we face, starting with the next National Adaptation Strategy. For too long, Canada’s response has failed to match the scale of the climate threat.
Investing in adaptation is obvious. A dollar invested today in adaptation measures will yield $15: $5 in direct benefits, such as reducing the cost of repairing damaged infrastructure, and $10 in indirect benefits, such as avoiding the costs of disruptions to supply chain and maintaining labor productivity.
Obviously, limiting climate destabilization must also be a priority. If Canada and other countries succeed in reducing emissions in line with their targets in addition to proactive adaptation here at home, “Damage Control” finds that future climate damage to our economy and reduction in our GDP could be reduced. three quarters.
For years, we have collectively underestimated the costs of inaction on climate change and undervalued the benefits of mitigation and adaptation. Inaction, it turns out, is very expensive.
The impacts of climate change don’t just manifest as catastrophic losses, like losing your home to flooding or fire. They will start to show up more and more like the red ink on your bank balance, the loss of a job, the dwindling value of your retirement nest egg, and the stress of expenses piling up as income slows.
Costs of climate change. But we have the opportunity to act now and reduce the bill by up to 75% before it is fully due.