International Context

Higher temperatures, sea-level rise, heavy rainfall, intense storms, severe floods and droughts, and more heat waves are just some of the climate impacts being observed around the world. Worldwide economic losses due to severe weather disasters, adjusted for inflation, grew from US$4 billion in 1975 to more than US$200 billion in 2005. Such impacts are expected to intensify in the future due to climate change.

Climate change is already affecting the residents, economies and environments of all regions of the world….

The impacts of climate change and the adaptation measures that other countries take to respond to them will affect Canadians.

Lumber trade

Trade Dynamics

Being part of a global market means that the impacts of climate change elsewhere will have significant consequences for the Canadian economy. For example, climate warming could increase forest productivity in Canada, but increased forest productivity in other countries could result in lower prices for Canadian wood products.

Northern Security

Declining Arctic sea ice will allow more international marine traffic to pass through Canada’s North. This will increase demands for surveillance, monitoring, maintenance of navigation signals, search-and-rescue services and environmental protection. Activities to address these needs will assert Canada’s sovereignty over these marine passageways, while protecting ecosystems and indigenous cultures from potentially negative impacts related to increased shipping and other economic activities.

Water Resources

Canada’s transborder water agreements with the United States were forged before climate change became an important issue. Rising temperatures and melting mountain snowpacks are affecting the quantity and quality of water in many rivers and lakes that straddle the Canada–United States border. These impacts will affect the sustainable management of water resources in both countries.

International Development

Each year, as the climate warms and the global population grows, more people are impacted by severe weather-related disasters, such as floods, landslides and droughts. Such disasters, and associated impacts on food and water supplies, can lead to serious health problems and, in poorer countries, can compromise the achievement of development goals. Impacts associated with gradual climate changes, such as rising sea level, are also a significant threat to many low-lying developing countries that have limited ability to deal with such problems. Such impacts have potential implications for Canadian activities related to international aid, peace-keeping and immigration.

Canada is involved in international initiatives to promote sustainable development and reduce poverty in developing countries. These activities help those who are most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and enhance Canada’s climate change expertise, adaptation skills and practices.