Synthesis

Adaptation involves making adjustments in our decisions, activities and thinking because of observed or expected changes in climate, in order to moderate harm or take advantage of new opportunities. It is a necessary complement to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in addressing climate change. Adaptation in Canada will be informed by knowledge of current and projected impacts of, and vulnerability to, changing climate, as well as lessons learned from practical adaptation experiences. The following bullets represent key conclusions arising from this national-scale assessment of climate change impacts and adaptation, and are discussed in the subsequent sections of this synthesis.

  • The impacts of changing climate are already evident in every region of Canada.
  • Climate change will exacerbate many current climate risks, and present new risks and opportunities, with significant implications for communities, infrastructure and ecosystems.
  • Climate change impacts elsewhere in the world, and adaptation measures taken to address these, will affect Canadian consumers, the competitiveness of some Canadian industries, and Canadian activities related to international development, aid and peace keeping.
  • Impacts of recent extreme weather events highlight the vulnerability of Canadian communities and critical infrastructure to climate change.
  • Adaptive capacity in Canada is generally high, but is unevenly distributed between regions and within populations.
    Resource-dependent and Aboriginal communities are particularly vulnerable to climate changes. This vulnerability is magnified in the Arctic.
  • Some adaptation is occurring in Canada, both in response to, and in anticipation of, climate change impacts.
  • Integrating climate change into existing planning processes, using risk management approaches, is an effective approach to adaptation.
  • Barriers to adaptation action need to be addressed, including limitations in awareness and availability of information and tools.
  • Although further research will help to reduce uncertainties and to address specific knowledge gaps and adaptation planning needs, existing knowledge is sufficient to start undertaking adaptation activities in most situations.