British Columbia Climate Change Adaptation Strategy
The British Columbia Government released a Climate Action Plan in 2008. As part of the effort to address climate change, the government is building a Climate Change Adaptation Strategy to address climate change impacts as it continues to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the province.
The British Columbia Climate Change Adaptation Strategy provides policy guidance for the government to address the effects of global climate change. This strategy is necessary for the government to employ as it seeks to protect public health and safety, manage natural resources, and sustain the economy of the province in order to make it more resilient to climate change.
The primary approaches of the strategy are to:
- Build a base of tools and knowledge to prepare the public and private sectors for global climate change
- Integrate adaptation into the government’s planning and decision-making activities
- Assess risk and implement adaptation strategies for the province’s most vulnerable sectors
The Climate Change Adaptation Strategy seeks to achieve three goals: build an information base to support decision-making, incorporate adaptation into internal government activities, and assess risk and implement strategies.
Approach 1: Build a base of tools and knowledge to prepare the public and private sectors for global climate change.
This approach includes developing adaptation tools (e.g., guides, assessment methods) and supporting outreach. Examples include spending over $90 million to create the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions and ongoing support to the Pacific Climate Impacts Consortium to develop climate change science that can be used by decision makers.
Approach 2: Integrate adaptation into the government’s planning and decision-making activities.
The government is working to incorporate climate change into its programs, policies, and regulations despite the large amount of uncertainty surrounding its potential effects. Current government program examples include: Living Water Smart, Future Forest Ecosystems Initiative, Conservation Framework, and the Mountain Beetle Action Plan.
Living Water Smart is a water and flood management program. The government is developing a drought response plan, participating in the Western Water Stewardship Council with the other western Canadian provinces and territories, and crafting new water management approaches through the Regional Adaptation Collaborative led by the Governments of Canada and British Columbia and the Fraser Basin Council. The collaborative is working on a new initiative, Preparing for Climate Change: Securing B.C.’s Water Future, with partners from local governments, First Nations, the private sector, and non-governmental organizations.
The Future Forest Ecosystems Initiative is a response to projected impacts on forest and range lands in British Columbia. Its purpose is to amend the province’s forest management framework, legislation, and regulations to include global climate change. This effort is being led by the BC Ministry of Forests and Range.
The Conservation Framework, developed by the BC Ministry of Environment and partners, provides tools and actions for biodiversity conservation in the province. The primary goals of the Framework are to:
- Contribute to conservation efforts for both species and their habitats
- Prevent species and habitats from becoming at risk
- Maintain native diversity of species and habitats
The Mountain Pine Beetle Action Plan provides guidelines to support the coordinated efforts to mitigate the pine beetle infestation in British Columbia. This infestation is causing the widespread mortality of lodgepole pine and ponderosa pine, affecting both forest health and the commercial viability of the province’s forestry industry. These kinds of infestations are projected to be more commonplace with the onset of climate change.
Approach 3: Assess risk and implement adaptation strategies for the most vulnerable sectors.
This includes conducting vulnerability assessments with leadership from Sector Working Groups supported by experts from the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions.
Outcomes and Conclusions
The British Columbia government is in the process of building its adaptation foundation. Using the three approaches mentioned above, the government hopes to make the province’s environment and economy resilient to the effects of climate change.
Gregg, R. M. (2010). British Columbia Climate Change Adaptation Strategy [Case study on a project of the British Columbia Ministry of Environment]. Product of EcoAdapt's State of Adaptation Program. Retrieved from CAKE: http://www.cakex.org/case-studies/british-columbia-climate-change-adapt… (Last updated December 2010)