Canadian Underwriter

How insurers plan to advocate for climate adaptation in federal election

August 17, 2021   by Greg Meckbach

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Adapting properties and communities to be more resilient to climate-related disasters should be a federal election issue, an Insurance Bureau of Canada official told Canadian Underwriter Monday.

“We will be very active throughout the federal election in advocating for adaptation measures in party platforms. We are also very active on social media targeting specific ridings across the country that have experienced floods and wildfires and advocating that voters compare the adaptation platforms of each party,” IBC federal affairs vice-president Craig Stewart said in an interview.

On Sunday, Governor General Mary Simon approved a request by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to dissolve Parliament and hold a federal election Sept. 20.

On Monday, the Conservative party released a “strong adaptation platform” to address climate change, Stewart said in an interview.

“The NDP has some adaptation measures in their platform. We are waiting to see what the Liberals release,” said Stewart, who made his comments in an interview about Climate Change 2021: the Physical Science Basis, a report released Aug. 9 by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

In the report, a working group for the Geneva, Switzerland-based IPCC makes several warnings, including an increased risk of drought and fire weather in western and central North America, as well as a “high” likelihood of increases in mean and extreme precipitation in eastern North America.

“Both issues are of concern to the insurance industry,” Stewart said Monday of flood and wildfire risk. “There is lots of conversation around [greenhouse gas] emission reduction but not enough around adaptation — and we are seeking to address that gap.”

In the federal Conservative platform released Monday, the party promises to implement a national action plan on floods, including establishing a residential high-risk flood insurance program.

Unlike Britain (which established Flood Re in 2016) and the United States (which established the National Flood Insurance Program in 1968), Canada does not have a public-private partnership for residential overland flood insurance.

Among other things, the federal Conservatives are promising to work with provinces and territories to develop a natural infrastructure plan. The plan would include a national standard to assess the value of natural infrastructure.

For its part, the New Democratic Party is promising what it calls a “national crisis strategy.” The NDP’s aim is to help communities plan for and adapt to the changing climate and the weather extremes Canada is already facing, supported with long-term funding for adaptation, disaster mitigation and climate-resilient infrastructure.

In its Climate Change 2021 report, IPCC Working Group I stated that greenhouse gases emissions (including carbon dioxide) from human activities are responsible for about 1.1°C of warming since 1850-1900. The report concludes that averaged over the next 20 years, global temperature is expected to reach or exceed 1.5°C of warming. This means increasing heat waves, longer warm seasons and shorter cold seasons.

“We now have a much clearer picture of the past, present and future climate, which is essential for understanding where we are headed, what can be done, and how we can prepare,” IPCC Working Group I co-chair Valérie Masson-Delmotte said Aug. 9 in a release.

Feature image: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau after meeting with Governor General Mary Simon and triggering an election on Sunday, Aug 15, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick



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