Canada has seen firsthand the dramatic impact climate change can have, ranging from rising annual temperatures to devastating forest fires.

In an effort to protect Canadians from the associated risks, the government announced the launch of the Expert Panel on Climate Change Adaptation and Resilience Results yesterday.

The Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Catherine McKenna, made the announcement.

"Acting now to deal with current and future climate change impacts will help protect Canadians from climate change risks and reduce their costs from climate-related damage and health issues,” the minister said in a statement.

“By developing made-in-Canada adaptation expertise and technology to deal with the effects of climate change, we will create good middle-class jobs and spur innovation. The work of the Expert Panel will help us to better understand how all levels of government are helping to protect communities across Canada from the effects of climate change."

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Around the world, climate change is impacting extreme weather events — floods, droughts, and heat waves have seen changes in frequency and severity. Canadians have seen the serious impact with the engulfing wildfires that flared up in Alberta and British Columbia in 2016 and 2017.

The 2016 Fort McMurray wildfire displaced 90,000 people and destroyed 2,400 homes and other buildings. The 2017 wildfires in B.C. displaced more than 45,000 people and there are still approximately 2,500 people displaced, with 154 active fires.

While these fires are big visible events made worse by a changing climate, there are slightly more hidden ways that climate change can affect Canadians. Climate change is expected to impact the frequency, duration and intensity of heat waves, which can increase the number of heat-related sickness and deaths in Canada, according to the statement.

The newly announced panel will support the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change, Canada's plan to reach their greenhouse gas emissions reduction target, build resilience to the effects of climate change, and generate clean growth and jobs through funding in clean technology, innovation, and infrastructure, according to the government.

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The panel will work with the government to measure progress on adaptation and climate resilience to better understand the efforts of all levels of government in Canada.

Many cities and whole countries have implemented laws and regulations to help curb the effects of climate change in various ways.

In Costa Rica, almost 99% of their energy was renewable in 2016 and they aim to be carbon-neutral by 2021. China recently completed the world’s biggest floating solar farm and Kenya recently banned plastic bags. In the United States, the city of Seattle recently announced a ban on all plastic straws and utensils in restaurants in 2018.

The US as whole though has taken steps away from climate change action.

US President Trump signed an executive order in March on “Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth.” Some saw this as a move away from the climate change tactics put in place by the Obama administration, as the order initiated a review of the Clean Power Plan and lifted the freeze on federal coal mining. The order could harm some environmental protection policies that are not directly related to climate change, like waterway protection.

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Trump also pulled out of the Paris Agreement on climate change in June, and various federal departments have been told to scrub mentions of climate change from their websites.  

These changes will likely require other countries to cover more areas in relation to the global approach to climate change.

Global Citizen campaigns on issues related to the Global Goals, which includes protecting the environment. You can take action on climate change here.


Defend the Planet

Canada Just Appointed an Expert Panel on Climate Change to Help the Country Adapt

By Jackie Marchildon