Climate change increases the frequency and severity of extreme weather events. One of the greatest resulting financial burdens lies with governments. On August 14, 2020, the Ontario Government announced that it has selected the Climate Risk Institute to lead the province’s first multi-sector climate change impact assessment, which will be integral to the Government’s strategic planning around climate change. The climate change impact assessment is a key aspect of the Province’s previously announced Made-in-Ontario Environment Plan which sets out the Government’s strategy to combat climate change through private and public sector cooperation.
Climate change and the impact assessment
As mentioned in the Government of Ontario News Release regarding the climate change impact assessment, one of the greatest financial burdens from climate change is infrastructure repairs. The Insurance Bureau of Canada estimates that the amount paid by the Canadian government to recover public infrastructure damaged by severe weather is three times the amount paid out in insurance claims to homes and businesses. Governments must plan for and structure our societies around the realities brought on by climate change.
The Province’s multi-sector climate change impact assessment intends to better understand the likely effects climate change will have on communities, infrastructure, the economy, and the natural environment. It will evaluate climate change impacts at a provincial scale, as well as focus analysis at a regional scale that takes into account the geographies, economies, municipalities and communities of those regions. The assessment will also examine the impacts on infrastructure, food and agriculture, people and communities, natural resources, ecosystems and the environment, and business and the economy. It has been announced that, over the next two years, the consulting team will review climate data, land use patterns, and socio-economic projections to help the province and municipalities build resilience to the expected impacts of climate change. The results of the study are intended to be released in 2022.
Made-in-Ontario Environment Plan
Although released on November 29, 2018, the Ontario Government’s Made-in-Ontario Environment Plan continues to evolve as new information and innovations emerge. This stated purpose of the Plan is to focus on private and public sector cooperation to create a focused approach on mitigating the impacts of climate change and reducing the Province’s greenhouse gas emissions.
This Plan, in its present state, deviates from the federal government’s greenhouse gas pricing scheme, which establishes a charge on carbon-based fuels and an emissions trading system involving certain industries. Instead, the Plan’s stated focus is on improving transparency, industry involvement, reducing reliance and use of greenhouse gases, and taking preventative measures to minimize damage related to climate change.
The path forward
As the Made-in-Ontario Environment Plan is not stagnant, we can expect the initiatives outlined in it to change following the Province’s multi-sector climate change impact assessment. Although the Province has taken a number of favourable steps to reduce its collective climate footprint, the question remains whether a compartmentalized approach will be enough to get Canada to its targets under the Paris Agreement.
We will continue to monitor the evolution of the Ontario Government’s Made-in-Ontario Environment Plan and will provide updates as they become available respecting the multi-sector climate change impact assessment.