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Environment Minister Peter Kent. (Dave Chan/Dave Chan for The Globe and Mail)
Environment Minister Peter Kent. (Dave Chan/Dave Chan for The Globe and Mail)

Ottawa ramps up funding for climate change adaptation Add to ...

The federal government is extending its funding to help the country deal with the inevitable effects of climate change.

Environment Minister Peter Kent says he'll spend $150-million over five years, across 10 different programs.

Previous spending plans were set to expire after just two years.

The money will be spent on getting a better handle on how warmer temperatures will affect Canada's economy, health, security and especially aboriginal communities.

“It's also important that the reality of climate change be well understood and proactively managed,” Mr. Kent said in the text of a speech delivered in Toronto.

Mr. Kent has been under pressure to pay far more attention to the effects of climate change, above and beyond what's being done to control greenhouse-gas emissions.

Government-picked advisers at the National Roundtable on the Environment and the Economy have told the minister that warmer temperatures will be costing Canada and its people about $5 billion a year by 2020, and will rise steeply up to as much as $43 billion a year by 2050.

The roundtable highlighted high costs to the forestry industry, and along Canada's coasts, where flooding is expected. Researchers also pointed to pressure on city hospitals from illness and death due to hotter temperatures.

The largest chunk of the funding will go to Environment Canada's climate change prediction and scenarios program. But there will also be money to look at the implications for fish, Canada's North, public health for aboriginals and for the rest of the population, and for competitiveness.

Mr. Kent also warned his audience not to get sucked in by criticisms about the government's environmental record, as he heads to Durban, South Africa, for another round of international talks on reducing greenhouse-gas emissions.

Non-governmental organizations have repeatedly singled Canada out for being obstructionist during previous rounds of discussions, and pushing the world toward lower standards for emissions.

But Mr. Kent said he will continue to ignore such criticism.

“We've already declared that, however acute the international pressure, we will not agree to taking on a second commitment period target under the Kyoto Protocol,” he said.

“We are confident in our plan and will not be swayed — however stormy the weather at the upcoming (Durban negotiations) becomes.”

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