The cover of a report on climate change by the Council of Canadian Academies.

Infrastructure is the top area of concern from climate change, say academics

A new report by the country’s top academics has narrowed down a list of potential impacts from climate change to six.

The report reiterates past papers on climate change saying that Canada as a whole is warming twice as fast as the rest of the world, and in the north, almost three times the global rate. It said burning fossil fuels account for most of the increase in emissions worldwide.

At the top of the list, the Council of Canadian Academies placed the risk to infrastructure. The 88-page report for the federal Treasury Board said extreme weather events would put homes and other buildings at risk. Canadians can expect more power outages, grid failures, and even cascading infrastructure failures.

As for solutions, it pointed to revised building codes and investment in infrastructure that takes into account extreme weather.

Coastal and northern communities may be at higher risk than those living inland, but the report suggested even in Southwestern Ontario residents will see more storms, reduced air quality, and more extreme heat.

Health and wellness were identified as the fourth-highest concern. In addition to heat and air quality, Canadians may be exposed to more vector-borne pathogens.

The report warns the federal government that data is limited, and the full impact of environmental change is not entirely known. It recommends more research in Canada and around the world.

Canadians will not be immune to the geopolitical fallout either. With climate change taking its toll worldwide, the panel said Canada could expect an increase in human migration, conflict over natural resources, and tension over the Arctic as the sea ice recedes and marine traffic increases.

Co-author John Leggat said he hopes the report will convince Canadians of the urgent need to prepare for climate change.