Critics say Ottawa must do more to make homes resilient to climate-driven threats
As Canada suffers through one of the worst wildfire seasons on record, Ottawa is releasing an update today to its climate adaptation strategy — less than a year after it was first published.
Environment and Climate Change Minister Steven Guilbeault, other cabinet ministers and senior federal officials are expected in Vancouver this morning to present the final document.
The government released a draft strategy in November. Today's announcement is expected to be a final version and should reveal whether Ottawa's strategy has the blessing of provinces, territories and national Indigenous organizations.
Many will be watching today's announcement to see if the federal government boosts its funding for climate adaptation or defers that spending to a later date.
Ahead of the updated strategy's release, the Pembina Institute, a clean energy think-tank, called for a plan to make homes and apartments more resilient to wildfires, heat waves and other climate threats.
While Ottawa is developing a separate "Canada Green Buildings Strategy," Pembina said it should be integrated with the adaptation strategy.
Noting that many older rental units don't have air conditioning, Betsy Agar, director of Pembina's buildings program, called for a national adaptation strategy for homes.
"When air quality outside is poor due to forest fires, it means that people simply can't open their windows," she said.
Pembina called for a strategy that prioritizes deep building retrofits through developing and implementing new building codes.
These retrofits would include insulating and sealing leaky buildings to make them more energy-efficient, and transitioning homes from gas-powered furnaces to more efficient and reliable heat pumps.
The independent Canadian Climate Institute, meanwhile, has called for more public and private spending to support adaptation projects across the country.
Ryan Ness, the institute's adaptation research director, said federal funding for adaptation has "lagged behind" the money Ottawa has announced for reducing emissions and investing in technologies to reduce emissions.
"While ultimately the federal government can't pay for everything, there's certainly more room … for investment in adaptation," Ness said.
The Canadian Climate Institute's analysis projects the impact of rising emissions between 2015 to 2025 will cost the Canadian economy $25 billion a year.
"That number is only going to get bigger if we don't adapt," Ness said.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Senior reporter, Parliamentary Correspondent
David Thurton is a senior reporter in CBC's Parliamentary Bureau. He covers daily politics in the nation’s capital and specializes in environment and energy policy. Born in Canada but raised in Trinidad and Tobago, he’s moved around more times than he can count. He’s worked for CBC in several provinces and territories, including Alberta and the Northwest Territories. He can be reached at email@example.com
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