Synthesis - Canada in an International Context

The above analysis (Sections 1 to 5) leads to some conclusions of relevance to policy, program or investment decisions by Canada in response to changing climate abroad, as observed and projected for the future. Many of these conclusions are indicated in the text and summarized in the 'Key Findings' section.

  • Resource conflicts, especially over water, will be exacerbated in some regions of the world, and sea-level rise and increasing natural disasters will force people to relocate both within countries and internationally, with implications for Canadian policies and activities related to aid, peace-keeping and immigration.
  • Risks associated with many climate-sensitive diseases are likely to increase, so continued vigilance will be required to address the increasing risks to Canadians.
  • Reduced sea-ice cover in the warming Arctic will result in greater marine traffic and development activities by many countries, and could present challenges for Canadian control and environmental protection. Circumpolar wildlife and indigenous ways of life are also threatened by loss of sea ice and melting permafrost (see Chapter 3).
  • Intensification of smog episodes, associated with longer and more intense warm spells, is leading to an increase in health problems associated with ozone precursors and small particle emissions from American and Canadian sources. Reducing these health risks will require greater reductions in emissions of precursors in both countries.
  • As a result of climate change, global prices for wood products may fall, and there may be some opportunities in Canada for increasing agricultural exports (grains, corn) and reducing imports (fruits, vegetables).
  • Canada's warm-season tourism potential is expected to increase, whereas many winter activities will require significant adaptation of facilities to remain sustainable. Canadian travel to warm destinations may be reduced. Tourism promotion programs could help to realize economic and social benefits.
  • Canada-United States border and transborder water agreements were developed without consideration of a changing climate, and some may not be appropriate to protect future Canadian interests or responsibilities in water apportionment and water quality agreements.
  • Increasing aridity in southwestern North America is likely to increase pressures for bulk export of water from Canada, with implications for trade and transborder water policies, including protection of Canadian waters.
  • Increased air conditioning loads, and probable reduced hydroelectric supply in the United States and parts of Canada, will have major implications for energy planning in Canada and energy export agreements.
  • Weather-related disaster losses are increasing rapidly worldwide, in part due to increasing frequency of extreme events. Improved disaster preparedness and management assistance will be required, especially to developing countries.
  • Although some climate and ocean change effects on fisheries have been identified, there are limited data on, and understanding of, changes in fish distribution and abundance in response to climate and related oceanic changes. This represents a significant knowledge gap to be addressed through monitoring and research.
  • The need for international assistance programs for adaptation to climate change in developing countries is increasing. The wide range of adaptation issues to be addressed includes preparing for and coping with natural disasters, dealing with shortages of water and food supplies, and health-related issues.
  • International programs in natural and social science (including economics), and research and science assessments on climate change, provide essential foundations for Canadian policy and program responses. Active involvement of Canadian experts in these activities contributes internationally and also helps enable input of globally current science to policies in Canada.