Environment Ministers Steven Guilbault and Benoit Charette and Montreal Mayor Valery Plante are participating in the Future of Adaptation 2023, the world’s largest conference on climate change adaptation, being held in Montreal this week.
The Palais des Congrès is hosting an event that brings together researchers, political leaders, members of civil society and private companies from around the world, who, in the coming days, will exchange best practices for adapting to climate change, but will also discuss the point of no return, that is, the moment when adaptation is no longer possible.
“There are 2,200 people registered, so this is likely to be a record number for the Future of Adaptation Conference, but this is not entirely surprising given the scale of climate change impacts which seems to be increasing year on year,” Alan noted. Burke, Director of the Uranus Consortium.
Ouranos is organizing this event in partnership with the Government of Canada and the United Nations World Adaptation Science Program (WASP).
Adaptation and maladaptation
This event is an opportunity to exchange knowledge about good adaptation solutions, as well as about bad ones.
For example, in the face of coastal erosion in eastern Quebec, “there has been a strong tendency, in the past, to dredge coastal areas to try to reduce the risk of flooding or waves hitting homes. […]Alan Burke explained that in some cases, the solution is to move homes and villages.
Elsewhere in the world, entire populations will be forced to move, because there will be a tipping point where adaptation will no longer be possible.
“The best example of the limits of adaptation is probably the classic case of rising sea levels that will put some Pacific islands at risk” and “We are starting to talk about solutions that aim to relocate the entire population of these islands, in New Zealand.” For example. It reminds us of the urgency and benefits of achieving carbon neutrality as quickly as possible to avoid exceeding the limits of adaptation.
Representatives from many countries of the South are participating in the summit, because the regions of the Southern Hemisphere are often the most affected by climate change.
In the future, “Bangladesh faces the risk of floods reaching nearly half of its surface area. In terms of adaptation, it is clear that Bangladesh alone will not be able to manage all these issues,” explained Alan Burke, stressing that issues related to climate refugees are among the Topics that will be covered in the various workshops.
Adapting the economy to climate change
Several private companies will participate in workshops at the Future of Adaptation 2023 conference that will address the topic of supply chain disruptions due to climate change.
“Businesses are exposed to extreme, violent weather events and supply chains are being disrupted by floods in Thailand or snow and ice storms in Texas, and ultimately, that starts to impact food and product prices, so there is a portion of the impacts of climate change that are linked to inflation,” Alan Burke explained.
Representatives from energy producers, such as Hydro-Québec, are also on hand to share ways to adapt their activities to climate change.
“We saw it here in Quebec with Hydro-Québec, which had problems with the transmission and distribution of energy” during severe weather events, stressed Alain Bourque, referring in particular to the recent forest fires, but also to other weather events such as snow and floods, which It led to the disruption of electricity distribution.
Not all types are created equal
All species are not equal in the face of climate change. “There will be winners and losers,” the Uranus director stressed.
“It is one thing for a bird to follow its weather conditions and move north if it is too hot in the south, but it is different for a tree that has two feet planted in the ground and cannot move like a bird.”
In several areas of the world, forests are “dying” because the trees have not been able to adapt to their new climate and “when there is violent weather, storms and lightning, these forests are more suitable to go to fire because they are not in perfect health because Climate changes are occurring very rapidly.
Adaptation in Quebec
Alan Burke was recently appointed co-chair of the expert committee that will advise François Legault’s government on climate change adaptation.
According to him, the main adaptation issues in Quebec are related to coastal erosion, but also to increased flooding in cities.
So we must think about “returning to the natural state of some of our rivers as there were previously many wetlands around them which acted as sponges” and “recreating wetlands and natural environments to better manage the ‘water’”. These solutions are called nature-based climate adaptation.
The co-chair of the adaptation committee added: “We are likely to see issues related to landslides” caused by heavy rainfall.
He also pointed to the consequences of thawing permafrost and “of course, as everywhere in the world, there is this gradual shift associated with climate change in our ecosystems, our forests and our rivers that are warming and therefore generating increasing challenges that increase water quality.”
This is the first time Canada has hosted a conference in the “Futures of Adaptation” series. These conferences have been organized every two years since 2011.
The 2023 edition will be held “in a hybrid format”, to help reduce greenhouse gases associated with travel, “while providing flexibility for participation”.
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