OTTAWA—A federal analysis suggests climate change will cost Canada and its people about $5 billion a year by 2020.
Costs will continue to climb steeply, to between $21 billion and $43 billion a year by 2050—depending on action taken to reduce global greenhouse-gas emissions and how fast the economy and population grow, the analysis says.
The report came from a group of business leaders, academics and researchers chosen by the federal government to advise Ottawa on how to deal simultaneously with challenges in the economy and the environment and is among the first to put a price tag on global warming specifically in Canada.
There’s a five per cent chance climate change costs would spike up to $91 billion a year by 2050, if things don’t go as planned.
The group models several different economic and environmental scenarios to come up with its costs, but generally assumes the world can contain global warming to about two degrees by 2050.
Since the exact effects of global warming and economic growth over the long run can’t be pinned down, researchers ran four different scenarios and had their results vetted by outside experts, according to David McLaughlin, president of the roundtable.
The results lead to a range of estimates but they all point to the same conclusion: the longer the effects of climate change are ignored, the costlier they become.
By the 2050s, the effects of warmer weather on forests, such as nastier pests, forest fires and changes in growth, will cost the lumber industry between $2 billion and $17 billion a year, the report says.
The effects will be most dramatic in Western Canada.
Along the coasts, flooding and changes in sea levels will cost Canada between $1 billion and $8 billion a year within 40 years. Prince Edward Island’s coasts are most at risk but costs will also run high in British Columbia and Nunavut.
The study also looked at the cost effectiveness of adaptation strategies. The report suggests strategies such as improving forest-fire protection, planting resilient trees, controlling pests, banning new buildings in areas at risk of flooding and limiting pollution.