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Small communities not ready for climate change

The highest proportion of communities with climate action plans are in Canada’s Prairie provinces

Dramatic differences exist in how Canadian communities are preparing for the effects of climate change, says a UBC professor who helped prepare a report by the National Municipal Adaptation Project (NMAP), a team of university researchers assessing how Canada’s municipal governments are planning for climate adaptation and resiliency.

“The good news from our survey is that Canada’s major cities recognize the importance of adaptation and are moving ahead,” says Kevin Hanna, an associate professor of geography in the Irving K. Barber School of Arts and Sciences at UBC’s Okanagan campus, and one of the project’s leaders. “The bad news is that many small communities are not there yet, and they may be the most vulnerable.”

While all Canadian cities with populations greater than 500,000 have climate plans, 65 per cent of small towns (5,000 people or less) have no climate change plan – even though roughly half have experienced damage from flooding or extreme rainfall in the last decade, the report finds.

The highest proportion of communities without climate action plans are in Canada’s Prairie provinces (62 per cent), the report finds. B.C. has the highest number of local governments with climate action plans, followed by Ontario and Quebec.

The report finds that provincial policy has significant influence on local planning. “Provincial policy support is critical, not only for adaptation planning, but also for reducing carbon emissions and developing alternative energies,” Hanna says. “With its carbon tax, B.C. has also been a policy leader on climate change. However, it is unclear whether B.C. will keep the carbon tax.”

View the report at: www.localadaptation.ca.

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