Climate change adaptation plans and actions

We are working with the provinces and territories to implement the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change. This is our plan to meet our emissions reduction targets, grow the economy and build resilience to a changing climate. Actions to advance climate change adaptation and build resilience to climate impacts include:

Plans, frameworks and strategies

The Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change is our plan, developed with the provinces and territories and Indigenous Peoples. Through the plan, we are growing the economy, reducing emissions and adapting to climate change. Taking adaptation actions now will help protect the health, well-being and prosperity of Canadians, and manage risks to communities, businesses and ecosystems.

We are also taking action on green and resilient operations through our Greening Government Strategy. This involves making our operations and assets more resilient to the impacts of climate change.

The Federal Adaptation Policy Framework (PDF; 176 KB) helps us consider climate risks when making decisions on a wide range of programs and activities that support the well-being of Canadians. It also guides us in identifying priorities to address climate risks in the future.

Announced in December 2016, the Arctic Policy Framework represents the combined efforts of the Government of Canada, provinces and territories, Indigenous Peoples and Northerners. Looking ahead to the year 2030, the framework will guide the federal government’s involvement in the North, including supporting adaptation action.

The Federal Sustainable Development Strategy (PDF) is the Government of Canada’s strategy to reach sustainable development priorities. It sets goals and targets, and identifies actions to meet them. This Strategy includes a goal on effective action on climate change, which includes actions to advance adaptation. Many of the Strategy’s goals and targets relate directly to climate change action and support the Pan-Canadian Framework since climate change affects our:

The Emergency Management Strategy for Canada: Towards a Resilient 2030 identifies federal, provincial and territorial priorities that will strengthen Canada’s resilience by 2030. Federal, provincial and territorial ministers released the Strategy in 2019. The Strategy is a collaborative, whole-of-society roadmap to strengthen Canada’s ability to assess risks, prevent/mitigate, prepare for, respond to and recover from disasters.

Five federal departments and agencies lead efforts to reduce the spread of Lyme disease. The Federal Framework on Lyme Disease (PDF; 1.39 MB) has three pillars:

We use this framework as a roadmap for our work on Lyme disease.

Federal, provincial and territorial governments have developed the 2020 Biodiversity Goals and Targets for Canada. This includes 19 aspirational goals and targets. Meeting the goals and targets relies on the efforts of public and private sector partners, as well as meaningful, full and effective participation of Indigenous Peoples, including First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples.

Nature-based solutions for climate change mitigation and adaptation

Protecting and restoring nature are important parts of Canada’s efforts to mitigate and adapt to climate change. Plants absorb and store greenhouse gases, vegetation helps stop floodwaters from reaching homes, and trees provide shade and lower air temperatures during the summer.

Canada is committed to protecting 25% of its land and 25% of its oceans by 2025, using nature-based solutions to fight climate change, and reaching net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

Nature-based solutions make the most of nature’s ability to slow climate change by absorbing and storing greenhouse gases, regulating water levels, protecting shorelines from storm surges and erosion, and even cooling cities. For example, in Nova Scotia, restoring salt marshes is helping protect tens of thousands of residents and businesses, UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Indigenous communities, and more than 20,000 hectares of farmland, from floods.

Making the most of nature-based solutions

Nature-based solutions can come in many forms, but there is no solution to climate change without trees. Forests provide many economic, social and environmental benefits for Canadians, including absorbing greenhouse gasses and erosion control in flood zones, which helps communities mitigate and adapt to climate change. That is why Canada will plant two billion trees over ten years, as part of Canada’s actions to advance the use of natural climate solutions.

Part of adaptation is also using climate data to help determine what tree species will flourish in a particular community or region in 20 or 50 years and how to maintain the health of future forests. For example, innovative forest management practices can make areas less vulnerable to storms and wildland fires.

In addition to forests, large amounts of carbon dioxide are currently stored in soils, wetlands, grasslands and oceans. Effective land management practices like no-till can help maintain and increase the amount of carbon dioxide captured by plants and stored in the soil. This natural-based solution is a win for climate change mitigation and for plants as soil carbon plays an important part of plant growth and soil health.

Wetlands, in particular, can hold massive amounts of carbon. Urban and rural wetlands also help to absorb heavy rain and snowmelts, and reduce overall flooding in our communities. Disturbing these natural features can reduce their climate change mitigation and adaptation potential, underscoring the importance of conserving and protecting these vital ecosystems.

Protecting Canadians health

Parks, green spaces, trees in urban areas and regular interaction with nature has benefits for human health and well-being. Interaction with nature and green spaces is shown to support positive mental health, lead to increased physical activity, and provides other social benefits for well-being including feelings of community, connectedness and stewardship. In addition, nature can provide a natural buffer to protect communities from floods. Trees can provide shade and natural cooling during heatwaves; they lessen the “urban heat island” effect by adding moisture to the air and creating shade, both of which lower temperatures and reduces energy consumption and illnesses during heatwaves.

Both wetlands and trees support improved air and water quality, nature supports the pollination of the food we depend on, and a healthy biologically diverse ecosystem can help reduce some disease risks. While nature-based solutions have some unintended negative health effects including potential introduction of new habitat for insects or pests. Fortunately, these risks can be reduced through public education and preventative actions. For example, see how to enjoy the outdoors without a tick video and prevention tips.

Learn more about Canada’s actions to protect our nature.

Resilient infrastructure investments

We are making investments in infrastructure to protect against events like floods and wildfires, and updating building codes to ensure buildings and other infrastructure can withstand the impacts of climate change.

We have invested in built and natural solutions to enhance resilience and base infrastructure decision-making on climate data and modelling, codes and standards.

We are supporting green and resilient infrastructure to help communities across the country and boost economic growth. Some examples are:

The Climate Lens is a tool for infrastructure projects to ensure greater resilience to climate impacts. It is a requirement of projects funded by both the integrated bilateral agreements and Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund.

We are developing building codes and guides to ensure new buildings and other infrastructure can withstand the impacts of climate change. This builds on efforts made in Budget 2016, which included investing $40 million in the development of climate-resilient building and infrastructure codes.

The Standards Council of Canada is working with Canada’s national standards network, including federal partners, provinces, territories and industry. They are developing and implementing solutions for infrastructure to:

Efforts to support this work include:

The National Research Council is developing codes and guides for climate-resilient buildings and infrastructure. This includes efforts to:

The Northern Transportation Adaptation Initiative provides funding to help meet key challenges of climate change on transportation infrastructure. The Initiative is active in Yukon, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, and in Nunavik and Nunatsiavut.

The Transportation Assets Risk Assessment program supports climate risk assessments of federal transportation infrastructure.

Natural infrastructure can be an adaptation option for communities, providing multiple benefits and supporting healthy and diverse terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. Federal, provincial and territorial governments are developing guidance and best practices (PDF) to encourage people to use natural infrastructure.

Measuring progress

We launched the Expert Panel on Climate Change Adaptation and Resilience Results in 2017 to help measure progress in Canada’s resilience to climate change. The Expert Panel concluded its work in 2018 and its report is now available online.

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