Climate Change and the Planning Process in Graham Island

Graham Island is the most northern of the Queen Charlotte Islands, also known as Haida Gwaii, located approximately 100 kilometres off British Columbia’s North Pacific coast. The study area — the northeast area of Graham Island — is highly sensitive to future sea-level rise. It naturally experiences extreme environmental conditions, including tidal ranges approaching seven metres, intense wave action, storm surges, and strong winds, typically above gale force. The people of northeast Graham Island are no strangers to the powerful elements of nature and have shown resilience in the face of these natural hazards, which also include strong earthquakes.

Two communities on northeast Graham Island — Masset and Old Masset Haida Nation Reserve — are low-lying and vulnerable to flooding. An evacuation route for these communities was closed for six months due to inundation and washouts. Further south near the community of Tlell, many property owners have lost land to erosion. The main highway that connects the northern communities to Queen Charlotte City, the ferries, and the Sandspit Airport, is continuously threatened in this area by erosion and flooding.

The study took a local perspective and used an integrated approach to assess human and biophysical vulnerability to climate change. This involved a local focus group to guide the research, in depth interviews with key community members (e.g., emergency and municipal planners, Haida elders, business owners and local residents), a community workshop, and several community research forums. The study examined community resilience and adaptive capacity, as well as environmental sensitivity to climate change, and combined these findings to assess ways to build on existing and potential adaptive capacities at the community and household scale. 

San Diego Climate Change Progress: Results from a City Benchmarking Study

The San Diego Foundation is committed to advancing more comprehensive solutions to climate change by local governments in the San Diego region. However, before acting, it is important to understand the foundations upon which we can build and the gaps to be filled. This study compares the progress on planning for climate change between the nine local cities which have officially declared commitment to climate action, and eleven other cities around California. Comparison cities were chosen based also on these declarations of commitment to the issue, and to represent a similar diversity in size, geography, economic focus, and coastal access as the cities in San Diego. The following report summarizes the current policy context facing local governments and compares the twenty participating cities based on specific steps on climate change planning from completing greenhouse gas inventories to implementing comprehensive plans of action. Many local governments in our region are in the initial phases of planning for climate change. With swift action, addressing the unique local challenges, and by leveraging the appropriate tools, these cities can, and should, keep abreast with their peers elsewhere in California. 


Climate Change and the Planning Process in New Brunswick

Storm-surge flooding and coastal erosion affect many low-lying areas of Canada’s coastlines. The coasts of Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island (PEI) and New Brunswick in the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence are among Canada’s most vulnerable to sea-level rise. The 190 km Northumberland Strait, varying from 14 to 64 km in width, separates Prince Edward Island from New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. In 2000, two powerful and destructive storms ravaged coastal communities along the strait, as well as the southern Gulf. These, and several major storms that followed in short succession from 2001 to 2004, demonstrated existing vulnerability and highlighted the need for adaptation strategies to deal with climate change and accelerated sea-level rise.

“Impacts of Sea-Level Rise and Climate Change on the Coastal Zone of Southeastern New Brunswick” was a three-year study undertaken by scientists and researchers from over a dozen government and academic groups. The project was carried out in consultation with municipalities and planning commissions, community economic organizations and stewardship groups from Kouchibouguac National Park to Cape Jourimain (the entire Gulf coast of New Brunswick south of the Miramichi).

City of Homer Climate Action Plan

In March, Homer joined the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI), as one of more than 700 local governments participating in the Cities for Climate Protection Campaign. Later, Homer accepted an invitation to participate in the pilot phase of ICLEI’s Climate Resilient Communities program, which focuses on adaptation to climate change. On 16 November 2007, just as this Climate Action Plan was being finalized, the IPCC released its “Summary for Policymakers of the Synthesis Report of the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report” in which it concluded with unprecedented language the urgency to initiate meaningful measures within the next two to three years to combat global climate change.

Urban Planning for Climate Change

Scientific opinion is now unanimous that global temperatures are likely to continue to rise with concomitant extreme weather patterns and events. There is a protean body of scientific literature available on global warming and climate change, which is affecting urban living in every respect from ‘heat islands’, continuous light and sea level changes as well as severe droughts and floods paralysing urban areas. Urban planning implications are reflected in buildings, street and community design for more environmentally sustainable cities. The urban science related to climate change and its implications for human settlement is in its early stages. Nonetheless, climate change is already becoming a concern of insurance and actuarial industries as they begin to assess risk to human settlement, construction and other risks associated with atmospheric conditions. These cannot be anticipated and need to be examined with  a new paradigm for urban problem solving which is outlined in this paper.

Climate Change Risk Management Strategy for Halifax Regional Municipality


According to the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and other leading climate change researchers, climate change is impacting and will continue to affect the health and well being of people and communities throughout the world even if global greenhouse gas emissions are reduced to the Kyoto Protocol target levels. If left unmitigated, these climate changes are likely to exceed the capacity of natural, managed and human systems to adapt.

Globally, estimates of the annual cost of climate change impacts range from $300 billion to over $2,000 billion. While there is no consensus that either Hurricane Juan that affected Nova Scotia, or Hurricane Katrina that devastated New Orleans and other Gulf Coast communities were caused by climate change, the devastating physical, health, and social impacts may foretell the type of impacts on vulnerable coastal communities that are likely to become more frequent in the future as a consequence of global climate change. Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM) has been witness to the physical and social impacts of extreme weather, notably Hurricane Juan in September 2003, and the one-metre snowfall and high winds experienced during the ‘Great Maritime Blizzard’ of February 2004. These extreme events significantly impacted the region, and severely impacted the region’s electrical and communications infrastructure as well as impeding public access to health and emergency service facilities throughout the Province of Nova Scotia but most particularly here in the HRM.

In response to HRM’s experience with extreme events and the projections that indicate these events are expected to be become more frequent, the Sustainable Environment Management Office (SEMO) in collaboration with members of ClimAdapt (a network of private sectorcompanies in Nova Scotia that provide climate change adaptation expertise) partnered with, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, Natural Resources Canada, Environment Canada and the Province of Nova Scotia to develop an approach that could be implemented to reduce HRM’s contribution to greenhouse gases and manage the impacts of climate change. The result of thisinitiative was Climate SMART (Sustainable Mitigation and Adaptation Risk Toolkit) with the overall objective of mainstreaming climate change into municipal decision making.

Preparing for Climate Change: A Guidebook for Local, Regional, and State Governments

The purpose of Preparing for Climate Change: A Guidebook for Local, Regional, and State Governments is to help you as a decision-maker in a local, regional, or state government prepare for climate change by recommending a detailed, easy-to-understand process for climate change preparedness based on familiar resources and tools. The content of this guidebook was developed from reviews of scientific literature, the Climate Impacts Group's experience working with U.S. Pacific Northwest decision-makers on preparing for climate change, and King County, Washington's experience developing and implementing a climate change preparedness plan. ICLEI - Local Governments for Sustainability has also provided guidance based on its Climate Resilient Communities Program, its Five Milestones process for climate change adaptation, and its extensive experience with local and regional governments.

The guidebook begins with an introduction (Chapter 1) from King County Executive Ron Sims, which highlights both the urgent responsibility and opportunity for public decision-makers to prepare for climate change now and in the coming decades. Chapter 2 provides a short overview of the science of global climate change and its projected national and regional consequences. Chapter 3 offers reasons why local, regional, and state decision-makers should prepare proactively for the impacts of climate change to their communities.

Creating a More Resilient Yellowknife: Climate Change Impacts & Municipal Decision Making

Canada’s municipalities are increasingly facing the realities of climate change impacts, none more so than northern communities. Early understanding of local climate change impacts and a pro-active approach to reducing the community’s vulnerabilities to them is essential to build a more resilient community.

The municipal decision making process has many components: staff reports; the work of standing committees and ad-hoc task forces; recommendations from external agencies; issues brought directly to the municipalities attention by committee members, community or Councilors; and ultimately Council decisions that set the course for the future of the community and its residents. Many of these decisions have a durable impact many years into the future. This future has significant uncertainties with regard to climate change impacts and how they might affect the longer-term outcome of those council decisions. Understanding these climate change scenarios, their degree of uncertainty and how they might affect major capital investment decisions is essential to ensuring efficient use of tax dollars.

The intent of this project is to set Yellowknife on a path to prudent risk management of climate change vulnerabilities. It will result in improvements to decision-making that gives appropriate significance to climate change impacts, and enables the municipality to adequately consider community safety, security and livability in every decision. The overall objective is to develop the tools, capacity, and decision-making processes necessary for the City of Yellowknife to systematically address any community climate change impact as it emerges.

PlaNYC: A Greener, Greater New York

PlaNYC is New York City's climate change strategy. All of PlaNYC's strategies - from reducing the number of cars to building cleaner, more efficient power plants to addressing inefficiencies in buildings - will contribute to their long term emissions reductions target. In addition, it outlines a plan to embark on a long term planning effort to develop a climate change adaptation strategy, to prepare New York City for the climate shifts that are already unavoidable.

A Framework for Debate of Assisted Migration in an Era of Climate Change

Assisted migration is a contentious issue that places different conservation objectives at odds with one another. This element of debate, together with the growing risk of biodiversity loss under climate change, means that now is the time for the conservation community to consider assisted migration. Our intent here is to highlight the problem caused by a lack of a scientifically based policy on assisted migration, suggest a spectrum of policy options, and outline a framework for moving toward a consensus on this emerging conservation dilemma.