Team members from Simon Fraser University work on a study of fumaroles, or gas vents, on Mount Meager in Lillooet, B.C., in a 2016 handout photograph. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-SFU, Gioachino Roberti,

Canada heating up faster than rest of world: Report

Canada’s Changing Climate Report claims the country is 1.7 C higher today than it was 70 years ago

Canada is warming up twice as fast as the rest of the world and it’s “effectively irreversible,” a new scientific report from Environment and Climate Change Canada says.

At stake is just how bad that warming gets, said several scientists presenting the Canada’s Changing Climate Report in Ottawa Monday.

The report is the first in a series of scientific assessments the department is producing and the first that zeros in on the changes Canada is seeing as a result of global warming.

Based on the work of 43 federal and university-based scientists who reviewed published scientific literature over the last two years, the report is stark in its findings, says Elizabeth Bush, a climate-science adviser at Environment Canada.

“We are already seeing the effects of widespread warming in Canada,” said Bush. “It’s clear, the science supports the fact that adapting to climate change is an imperative. Urgent action is needed to reduce emissions.”

READ MORE: Alberta project seeks to find common language on climate change

The report says the average temperature in Canada is 1.7 C higher today than it was 70 years ago, while the average global temperature is up 0.8 C.

The Canadian Arctic has been hit even harder, with a 2.3 C increase, creating a risk that by the middle of this century most marine regions in the Canadian North will be ice-free for at least a month at a time.

Warming is happening even faster in winter, with a 3.3 C average temperature increase between December and February, leaving southern Canadians with more winter rain and northern Canadians with melting permafrost and less sea ice. More rain and less snow could have a significant impact on the availability of fresh water in parts of the country, particularly in the summer, the report notes. Snow that accumulates but doesn’t melt until later in the year is effectively banked water.

Warmer winters also mean certain species that can’t survive our winters now will start to do so, bringing pests and diseases to Canada we aren’t used to seeing.

The report was conceived of four years ago, when the department’s in-house scientists wanted the information to go along with Canada’s annual reporting on its climate-changing emissions. But it is coming out the week the federal Liberals are rolling out the signature piece of their climate-change plan: a carbon tax in four provinces that have no equivalent policies of their own. It applies in Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and New Brunswick.

Canada is aiming to cut its carbon-dioxide emissions by about 200 million tonnes by 2030 with policies like the carbon tax, phasing out coal power, and investing in public transit, green energy and building energy efficiencies. But the United Nations suggests Canada needs to cut emissions even more to prevent the worst climate-change impacts.

The scientists briefing journalists on the new report acknowledged the emissions cuts need to be global but also said cuts anywhere can have an impact on climate everywhere.

The report makes clear that the climate impacts we’re already seeing are going to stay with us for “centuries to millennia” even if we hit the emissions cuts believed necessary to slow warming to a more manageable pace.

READ MORE: Losing climate change race a ‘disaster for Africa,’ UN says

Bush said, however, there are two vastly different pictures for Canada depending on whether the world makes significant progress towards cutting net greenhouse-gas emissions to zero by 2050.

The report shows if the world can do that, the average temperature increases in Canada by the end of the century will be less than 3 C even in the hardest-hit parts of the country.

But if the world keeps emitting at the same rate, most parts of Canada will see increases of between 7 C and 9 C, with the far reaches of the Arctic seeing temperature changes in excess of 11 C.

“We are kind of at this fork in the road,” said Chris Derksen, an Environment Canada research scientist specializing in ice cover.

In the worse scenario, Canada will see 10 times as many deadly heat waves and twice as many extreme rainstorms, the report says.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Prince Rupert marine business adds second catamaran to its fleet

100-passenger Aurora was launched this year for the Rio Tinto Kemano tunnel project

Indigenous voices finally heard with final MMIWG report, says Northwest B.C. advocate

The report contains more than 200 recommendations to multiple levels of government

Terrace-area gold project shows strong promise

Juggernaut Exploration hopes this year’s drilling will follow last year’s exceptional program

New protocol will better assist victims of sexual assault

Victims of sexual assault are set to benefit from the completion of… Continue reading

School district remains firm on reassignments

Community calling for halt of decision

‘This is unbelievable:’ Raptors dazzled by massive crowds at downtown Toronto parade

Mayor John Tory declares it ‘We The North Day’ after team’s historic NBA title win

Elusive ‘ghost whale’ surfaces near Campbell River

Ecotourism operator captures images of the rare white orca

Oil and gas sector cautious as deadline on Trans Mountain decision nears

Trudeau government expected to announce whether it will approve pipeline for second time on Tuesday

Skipping school costs a dozen B.C. students chance at a new car

Cowichan’s Jared Lammi showed up and won $5,000 cheque toward vehicle, but he can’t drive

People throwing food at a bear in Fernie alarms conservation groups

“Approaching and feeding bears contributes to habituation,” says conservation group

Feds announce $50M strategy to fight dementia

Emphasis is on prevention and and supporting caregivers

Federal Liberals’ plan to help first-time homebuyers to kick in weeks before election

Ottawa to pick up 5% of a mortgage on existing homes for households that earn under $120,000 a year

B.C. VIEWS: When farmland protection doesn’t protect farmers

Secondary residences aren’t mansions, families tell Lana Popham

Bombers down B.C. Lions 33-23 in season opener

Former Lion Andrew Harris leads Winnipeg with 148 rushing yards

Most Read