On September 29th the National Roundtable of the Environment and the Economy (NRTEE) released its latest report – Paying the Price: The Economic Impacts of Climate Change for Canada adding a valuable perspective to the climate change debate. The object of the report is to balance the long term economic impacts associated with inaction with the up-front expense of adaptation measures available to the federal and provincial governments. Deferring all action to the future could lead to annual adaptation costs and impacts of $5 billion by 2020, escalating to $43 billion by the 2050s.

Climate change is anticipated to impose the most significant costs on three representative aspects of the Canadian economy: the timber supply, coastal areas, and the health system. All of these impacts are of particular concern for British Columbians, but most alarming is the potential for $2–17 billion in annual costs associated with pests, fires, and reduced forest growth by 2050.

David McLachlin, the NRTEE President and CEO, said that the report “shows that adapting to climate change makes economic sense.” One example is implementing measures to enhance forest fire prevention, pest control, and cultivation of climate-resistant tree species. Under a low climate change scenario, the benefit to cost ratio of such measures is 9:1, which increases to 38:1 if high climate change is experienced.

The full report can be downloaded from the NRTEE website. The next NRTEE report will analyse what the private sector can do to reduce its risk and exposure to climate change, and ways in which the government can cost-effectively promote private sector adaptation.