New research helps Calgary and Edmonton plan for climate change impacts
APRIL 10, 2017—Cities that invest in climate resilience can save residents money while preparing for climate risks, says new research commissioned by Calgary and Edmonton.
The research series Building a Climate-Resilient City by the Prairie Climate Centre outlines steps that cities can take to engage in climate risk management in a range of areas, including transportation, agriculture, electricity infrastructure, disaster preparedness and emergency management.
“Strategies that build a city’s climate resilience are a smart investment and are essential for good urban policy,” said Dr. Hank Venema, director of planning for the Prairie Climate Centre, a joint initiative of the University of Winnipeg and the International Institute for Sustainable Development.
He continued, “This new research provides a suite of options that Calgary, Edmonton and other cities can pursue to make their cities’ healthier, more innovative, and better prepared for climate change. Cities that have demonstrated commitment to building resilience are more attractive places for businesses to move, as they can see the city has the infrastructure and planning in place to deal with the inevitable shocks and stresses that climate change will bring.”
The 2016 federal government Working Group on Adaptation and Climate Resilience report noted that Alberta was affected by 7 of the 10 most expensive disasters in Canadian history. In coming decades scientific projections show that Alberta should expect climate change impacts that include less predictable weather and greater risk of extreme weather such as flash floods, severe rainstorms, heat waves and droughts, among others.
Edmonton’s city council has asked the city’s administration to prepare a climate change strategy for 2018. Mark Brostrom, Edmonton’s Director of City Environmental Strategies, said: “As this strategy will involve a comprehensive stakeholder engagement process, the City of Edmonton was pleased to cooperate with the City of Calgary on the creation of these White Papers which will spark discussions on building resilient cities. Meeting the challenge of climate change is not something one city can do alone. We all have to cooperate, share ideas and learn from each other to meet the future together.
“It is important to recognize that responding to climate change requires a certain degree of ‘right-sizing’ and tailoring to our community,” said Dick Ebersohn, Program Manager with The City of Calgary’s climate team. “The Prairie Climate Centre’s work builds on leading international research, but grounds it in a Calgary context. As we build our Climate Resilience Strategy, these papers provide critical insight and will our help planners and stakeholders make informed, forward-looking decisions based on Calgary’s unique climate risks, strengths and opportunities.”
Dr. Jino Distasio, director of the Institute of Urban Studies at the University of Winnipeg said, “Building climate change considerations directly into urban planning and design will be standard practice in the coming decades and a priority for prairie cities, which we expect will experience a much more variable and hotter climate. This set of reports by the Prairie Climate Centre provides a practical roadmap for cities to build climate resilience directly into their planning processes.”
The research paper series is available online at: prairieclimatecentre.ca/publications.
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International Institute for Sustainable Development
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About the Prairie Climate Centre
The Prairie Climate Centre is a collaboration of The University of Winnipeg and the International Institute for Sustainable Development. The Prairie Climate Centre works to enable governments, businesses and community members across the Canadian Prairies to reduce their vulnerability to climate variability and change by providing access to an innovative, stakeholder-driven hub for data, guidance, research, knowledge exchange, training and capacity building.
About the International Institute for Sustainable Development
Established in 1990, the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) is a non-partisan, charitable organization specializing in policy research and analysis, and information exchange. Through their head office in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada and their branches in Ottawa, New York, and Geneva, the Institute champions sustainable development around the world through innovation, partnerships, research and communications. It is dedicated to engaging decision-makers in business, government, non-government organizations and academia on issues around economic and legal frameworks, energy and climate change, water, resilience, and knowledge.
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