Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Cancel Anytime
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

Climate change costs are already taking an increasing bite out of Canada’s economic growth and the country is falling behind other countries when it comes to planning for them, federally funded research says.

“Some of these impacts we’ve already seen are going to continue into the future and grow,” said Ryan Ness of the Canadian Institute for Climate Choices. “But there’s going to be other kinds of impacts that we haven’t even seen before.”

The institute was formed and is funded by Environment Canada as a source of independent advice and analysis on climate change threats and possible ways to minimize them. This is its first report.

Story continues below advertisement

Using data from government sources as well as groups including the Insurance Bureau of Canada, it concludes weather-related disaster costs are increasing dramatically. It says the number of such disasters had risen to 27 a year in 2016 from an average of eight annually in the early 1970s.

There were $14.5-billion in total costs from 2010 to 2019, dwarfing the total of $21-billion for the four previous decades.

Those figures are adjusted for population growth and increasing land values, institute economist Dave Sawyer said.

“Sure, we’ve got more stuff, but we’re also being kicked harder,” Mr. Sawyer said.

That drain is starting to dent the economy. The report says disaster costs used to equal about 1 per cent of GDP growth. Over the past decade, that has climbed to between 5 per cent and 6 per cent.

The biggest threats are still down the road, the report predicts.

Health costs can be expected to increase owing to heat waves and increases in insect-borne illnesses such as Lyme disease. Wildfire smoke worsens lung problems and weather-related disasters of all kinds have mental-health impacts.

Story continues below advertisement

The report says business costs will emerge, too.

People don’t work during disasters. During the 2016 Fort McMurray fire, 40 per cent of Canada’s oil production was offline for weeks. Economists have found that labour productivity drops during times of extreme heat or cold by about 2.7 per cent.

Property vulnerable to disasters such as floods, fires or permafrost thaw will lose value, the report suggests, at a cumulative loss estimated by some of up to nearly 1 per cent of GDP by 2050.

It also says agriculture will be disrupted. Precipitation patterns and timing will change. Freak events will damage harvests, such as the 2012 Ontario March heat wave that made apple trees vulnerable to a later frost and cost orchardists about $100-million.

Insects will ruin valuable timber. Services that nature once provided free – such as dependable, easy-to-treat water – will become expensive.

Canada just isn’t toting up the costs, Mr. Ness said.

Story continues below advertisement

“The gold standards are the [European Union] and the U.S., where they’ve had programs for years that research climate impacts and evaluate their costs. We don’t have the scale of funding or the sophistication of the programs that those two jurisdictions do.”

More importantly, Mr. Sawyer said, governments need to start talking to one another and working together.

“Our governance arrangements need to be better to co-ordinate the feds, the provinces and the municipalities,” he said. “[We need to be] sitting down together and figuring out how we can better manage and prepare for this changing climate.”

Our Morning Update and Evening Update newsletters are written by Globe editors, giving you a concise summary of the day’s most important headlines. Sign up today.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies