Climate change stability: Guilbeault launched a national consultation

MONTREAL – Federal Minister of the Environment and Climate Change Steven Guilbeault wants to give Canadians a strategy on climate change stability and will begin a national consultation on the topic on Monday in Montreal.

In an interview with The Canadian Press, Minister Guilbeault pointed out that his government’s attack plan to tackle climate change is deployed in two fields, one offensive and the other defensive.

All the measures, investments and regulations that come out of the GHG emissions reduction plan presented in March are part of the offensive.

The defensive front, or resilience in the face of climate change, represents the strategy that must be deployed to limit harm, human and financial, and anticipate the effects of climate change.

“We have entered the era of climate change, there are already effects in Canada from one end of the country to the other. So how do we prepare? Are we ready? Obviously, I think we can agree that we are not ready, ”said Steven Guilbeault, citing the consequences of floods, forest fires and heat waves that have hit recently in various regions of the country.

If we only consider the financial aspect, the insured damage attributed to extreme weather events in Canada has reached $ 2.4 billion for the year 2020, according to Toronto-based company Catastrophe Indices and Quantification.

“We need to set ourselves clear goals,” the minister said.

“For example, one goal might be that that percentage of Canada’s population is safe from flooding by 2030, so we’ll work with experts and partners to define how we can get there.”

Update the data

Determining how many Canadians live in areas that are prone to flooding and how many are non -catastrophic still requires working with up -to -date data and maps.

A recent report commissioned by Public Safety Canada from the Council of Canadian Academies indicates that Canadian governments often make decisions based on incomplete weather data and old flood maps.

The consequences of using outdated data can be dramatic. For example, a municipality may decide to allow the construction of a neighborhood in a flood -prone area because the data it has has not been adapted to climate change.

In a context where the past is no longer necessarily a guarantee of the future, as extreme climatic events increase in intensity and frequency, it is especially important to have access to reliable scientific data.

“Data is a critical element of any solid climate change adaptation strategy,” said Minister Guilbeault, adding “that acting without data is like a headless chicken.”

He pointed out that the federal government could play a role in working with provinces and municipalities to update new flood maps, but then “the information has to go to the municipalities and the municipalities have to get the information to the citizens “.

Hence the importance, argued Steven Guilbeault, that all levels of government come to the table to participate in developing the national strategy for adaptation to climate change, emphasizing the word “national”.

“We want to lay the foundations for this strategy, which is not a federal strategy, it’s a national strategy, so we’re going to work with provinces, territories, Indigenous peoples, municipalities and other stakeholders.”

The report written by the Council of Canadian Academies, published in January, also emphasizes that better collaboration between municipalities, provinces and the federal government is needed to increase resilience to disasters. Communication of climate risks to citizens is also lacking. For example, the report “Building a Resilient Canada” states that a poll in 2016 showed that only 6% of Canadians living in an area designated frequent flooding are aware of this risk.

“The approach will make it possible to identify these issues and then to make sure there’s someone responsible, someone who will raise their hand, saying‘ ok, I’ll take this part ’and another saying“ I will take this end »for the latter, there is no hole in our approach. I think that right now, and I’m the first to admit, we’re not ready yet. “

Defense by the natural environment

One of the ways to be more resilient in the face of climate change is to focus more on nature -based solutions.

Minister Guilbeault cited as an example the “Grand Parc de l’Ouest”, which will be the largest urban park in the country.

This expansive park, which received an investment of $ 50 million from the federal government, is located in Pierrefonds-Roxboro and should cover an area of ​​30 square kilometers. It will be 15 times larger than Mount Royal Park and eight times larger than Central Park in New York.

“One of the functions, I would say almost the first in the park, is the ability to absorb spring floods, therefore to limit flooding problems in that part of the country. This kind of project, we’re starting to do that pretty much anywhere, then we funded it with money from Infrastructure Canada that has historically been used to make concrete ”, indicated the Minister, who specified that“ it is cheaper to invest in these solutions than to try to invest in technical , technological solutions ”.

Public consultations on the climate change strategy will begin in person and online next week and the government intends to use the strategy in early autumn.

“Really ambitious, but at the same time, weather is against us, natural disasters, more and more, so it is our responsibility to do the job well, but we also need to do it quickly” summed up Minister Guilbeault.

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