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Incorporating Climate Change Considerations in Environmental Assessment: General Guidance for Practitioners

Annex B: Sources of Information for Practitioners

I. Measuring and Reducing GHG Emissions

With respect to GHGconsiderations, the following resources are available to EA practitioners:

II. Climate Change Impacts in Canada

In general, the resources described in this section would be the first places to go to obtain published information about climate change impacts relevant to specific regions and/or sectors in Canada.

With respect to impacts considerations, Step 1 requires that practitioners conduct a preliminary scoping based on readily available information. These resources will help practitioners to identify potential impacts of climate change in the geographical region, and on the biophysical systems of interest to the project. The IPCC Third Assessment Review should be of particular value to EA practitioners, as it represents the views of dozens of internationally recognized experts, and attaches levels of confidence, where possible, to potential future climate change impacts.

The resources in this section should also provide practitioners with preliminary information for use in: Step 2 - identifying the impacts of climate change on specific climate parameters (e.g., temperature, precipitation, ice conditions) to which the proposed project is sensitive; Step 3 - accumulating and assessing more detailed information about the potential impacts of climate change on the specific project and risks to the public and environment; Step 4 - developing a plan for managing or avoiding risks to the project from climate change; and Step 5 - monitoring, follow-up and adaptive management.

A. Synthesis Documents

The documents described below reflect a synthesis of the opinions of researchers, and in some cases of stakeholders as well, on the potential impacts of climate change. For the most part, these documents are based on review and assessment of the existing scientific literature.

IPCC - Third Assessment Report

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was established in 1988 by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to address climate change. The IPPC's role is to assess - on a comprehensive, objective, open and transparent basis - the scientific, technical and socio-economic information relevant to understanding the risk of human-induced climate change, its potential impacts, and options for adaptation and mitigation. A main activity of the IPCC is to provide a regular assessment of the state of knowledge on climate change. The First IPCC Assessment Report was completed in 1990, the Second Assessment Report in 1995, and the Third Assessment Report(TAR) in 2001. The TAR and other IPCCdocuments can be found on the IPCC Web site at: http://www.ipcc.ch/.

The TAR includes three volumes, reflecting the work of the three IPCC Working Groups.

  • Volume I assesses the scientific aspects of the climate system and climate change.
  • Volume II assesses the vulnerability of socio-economic and natural systems to climate change, negative and positive consequences of climate change, and options for adapting to it.
  • Volume III assesses options for limiting GHG emissions and otherwise mitigating climate change.

The TAR summary report produced by Working Group II of the IPCC, Climate Change 2001: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerabilityprovides a synthesis of the most recent findings on regional climate changes, the effects on and vulnerability of natural and human systems to these changes, as well as key regional impacts and issues. Chapter 15 deals with North America. The direct link to this chapter is http://www.grida.no/climate/ipcc_tar/wg2/545.htm.

Canada Country Study

The Canada Country Study (CCS) was the first comprehensive program aimed at determining the impacts of climate change on different regions and economic sectors within Canada. Launched in 1996, the CCS reviewed existing knowledge about the potential social, biological, and economic impacts of climate change. Some chapters reflect individual research studies, while others review and assess the broader scientific literature. Six regional reports (British Columbia and Yukon, Arctic, Prairies, Ontario, Quebec, and Atlantic), along with a series of reports on individual sectors and cross-cutting issues were released in 1997 and 1998. They are available at http://www.ec.gc.ca/climate/ccs. [Environment Canada is currently rebuilding its Web site]. The regional reports only are available at: http://www.carleton.ca/~tpatters/teaching/climatechange/canada/.

Climate Change Poster Series

Climate Change in Canada, a series of seven posters and related materials based on the Canada Country Study and depicting climate change impacts in regions across Canada, is available through the following Web site: http://www.adaptation.nrcan.gc.ca/posters/

Canadian National Assessment

Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation: a Canadian Perspective, is a review of Canadian impacts and adaptation research from 1997 to the present. The report builds on the Canada Country Study, and reflects a greater emphasis on review and assessment of existing literature. It provides information on various sectors, including water resources, agriculture, forestry, fisheries, coastal zone, and health, as well as general information on impacts and adaptation, advances in research techniques, and existing knowledge gaps. Sector-specific chapters are available at http://adaptation.nrcan.gc.ca/home2_e.asp?CaID=9&PgID=25. More comprehensive information on region-specific issues is expected to be released by 2006.

US National Assessment

The US National Assessment of the Potential Consequences of Climate Variability and Change - published in 2000 and 2001 - synthesizes, evaluates, and reports on current knowledge of the potential consequences of climate variability and change on the United States in the 21st century. It includes information about climate change impacts on 10 mega-regions, 19 regions, and five sectors: agriculture, water, health, forests, and coastal areas and marine resources. Much of this information, particularly in regions bordering on Canada, will be of value to Canadian practitioners. Both regional and sectoral reports are available from the main US National Assessment Web site, at: http://www.usgcrp.gov/usgcrp/nacc/default.htm.

B. Targeted Documents

Many other studies and reports describe climate change impacts on specific regions, bio-physical systems, or sectors in Canada. The following list, while incomplete, provides links to some of the most significant sources of such information.

Government of Canada - Natural Resources Canada

Natural Resources Canada hosts the main Government of Canada climate change impacts and adaptation Web site, at http://adaptation.nrcan.gc.ca/.

The Resource Centre portion of this Web site includes reports, fact sheets, presentations, papers, and links to other Web sites. The main link is http://adaptation.nrcan.gc.ca/resource_e.asp.

The Web site also includes links to projects funded under the federal Climate Change Action Fund and Action Plan 2000, by sector and by region, and links to related papers and resourceshttp://adaptation.nrcan.gc.ca/home_e.asp?CaID=9&PgID=23. These projects include, for example, a study on the possible consequences of climate change along the Beaufort Coastlands (available at http://sts.gsc.nrcan.gc.ca/beaufort/), as well as critical information on permafrost and climate change (available at http://sts.gsc.nrcan.gc.ca/permafrost/climate.htm).

Government of Canada - Environment Canada

The main Environment Canada climate change Web site is http://www.ec.gc.ca/climate/ [the Environment Canada climate change site is currently under construction]

Adapting to Climate Change in the Toronto-Niagara Region: Towards an Integrated Understanding of Science, Impacts, and Responses (1999)

Adapting to Climate Change and Variability in the Great Lakes - St. Lawrence Basin (1998)

Climate Change and Canada's National Park System(1998)

Extreme Weather and Climate Change (1998)

Mackenzie Basin Impact Study: A regional study on the effect of climate change in Canada

Water Resources: Monitoring the effect of climate change on freshwater ecosystems

Canadian Climate Impacts and Adaptation Research Network (C-CIARN)

C-CIARNis a national network established and funded by Natural Resources Canada, which facilitates the generation of new climate change knowledge by bringing researchers together with decision makers from industry, governments, and non-governmental organizations. C-CIARNis comprised of six regional offices (British Columbia, Prairies, Ontario, Quebec, Atlantic, and North) and seven sectoral (Health, Water Resources, Coastal Zone, Forest, Agriculture, Landscape Hazards, and Fisheries), connecting researchers and stakeholders across the country. Further information about C-CIARNcan be found at: http://www.c-ciarn.ca/.

Some of the C-CIARNoffices have produced summaries of the literature relevant to their area of interest. The national C-CIARNdatabase includes references to hundreds of papers on climate change impacts and adaptation in Canada, and allows searches by title, author, abstract, keywords, and publication date. The database can be found at http://www.c-ciarn.ca/index_e.asp?CaId=9&PgId=20

International Institute for Sustainable Development

The International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) is a non-profit organization that promotes sustainable development by advancing policy recommendations on international trade and investment, economic policy, climate change, measurement and indicators, and natural resource management. The IISDis looking at climate change impacts and adaptation in Canada's North. Information about this project, Focusing on the Arctic, can be found at http://www.iisd.org/climate/arctic/.

Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment

The Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME) is preparing a report - available later in 2003 - that describes twelve climate change indicators, documents changes in these indicators during the 20th century, and identifies the potential implications of such changes to things Canadians value. This report is written for a general audience, and is based on scientifically sound, readily available data. The CCME Web site, located at http://www.ccme.ca, provides free access to the document in PDF format.

Government of British Columbia - Ministry of Water, Land and Air Protection

Indicators of Climate Change, 2002, documents how temperature, precipitation, and some related physical and biological systems changed in British Columbia during the last 100 years. The trends suggest that many regions of British Columbia are starting to feel the early impacts of climate change. The report and supporting technical documents are available at: http://wlapwww.gov.bc.ca/air/climate/#indicators.

Government of the United States

The United States and other signatories to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) are obligated to submit to the UNFCCCSecretariat periodic national communications (reports). These reports are to provide a wide ranging and comprehensive update on a country's mitigation and adaptation efforts in response to climate change. The most recent such report from the US government - Climate Action Report 2002 - contains a chapter on impacts and adaptation based largely on the US National Assessment. It is available at: http://www.usgcrp.gov/usgcrp/Library/thirdnatcom/chapter6.htm

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) maintains a Web site on climate variability and change. The "Where You Live" section of this Web site contains links to clickable maps of the World, United States, and Natural Places, as well as material on how these regions and ecosystems may be affected by climate change. The link is: http://yosemite.epa.gov/OAR/globalwarming.nsf/content/index.html

III. Climate Change Impact Assessments

In some cases, a preliminary literature review will identify potential climate change impacts on a project that require more detailed assessment. Although the resources in Section II should provide practitioners with background information relevant to all these tasks, in some cases practitioners may need access to more specialized information about climate change, its impacts, and potential adaptation measures. A number of organizations in Canada can provide guidance on ways to obtain this specialized information, including links to more specialized information sources and expertise in using and interpreting this information.

Canadian Climate Impacts Scenarios Project

The Canadian Climate Impacts and Scenarios (CCIS) project provides climate scenario information and scenario construction advice to impacts researchers in Canada. Its goal is to ensure that resulting impacts studies can be used to provide Canadians with a meaningful national assessment of the impacts of climate change and can contribute to future international assessments such as those undertaken by the IPCC. Goals of the program include:

  • the provision of basic national climate change scenarios, advice and related information to the Canadian impacts and adaptation communities;
  • the development of a nationally consistent framework within which sector- and region-specific climate change scenarios will be developed through engagement of the respective impacts and adaptation research communities;
  • the development and maintenance of a capacity within the Canadian impacts and adaptation research communities to develop nationally consistent climate change scenarios to support climate impacts and adaptation research and assessments; and
  • the engagement of the university research community and scenario users in the further development of the young and growing science of climate change scenarios.

Further information on the program can be found at: http://cics.uvic.ca/scenarios.

Canadian Institute for Climate Studies

The Canadian Institute for Climate Studies (CICS) is a not-for-profit Canadian corporation established to further the understanding of the climate system, its variability and potential for change and the application of that understanding to decision making in both the public and private sectors. CICS hosts the Canadian Climate Impacts Scenarios Project (see below) and on a fee-for-service basis provides advice, consultation, analysis, interpretation and seasonal climate predictions to business, industry, government, and individuals whose decisions are climate sensitive. More information about CICS can be found at: http://www.cics.uvic.ca/index.cgi?/About_Us/Canadian_Institute_for_Climate_Studies.

Canadian Climate Impacts and Adaptation Research Network

The Canadian Climate Impacts and Adaptation Research Network (C-CIARN) is a national network that facilitates the generation of new climate change knowledge by bringing researchers together with decision makers from industry, governments, and non-governmental organizations to address key issues. C-CIARNis comprised of six regional offices (British Columbia, Prairies, Ontario, Quebec, Atlantic and North) and seven sectoral offices (Health, Water Resources, Coastal Zone, Forest, Agriculture, Landscape Hazards and Fisheries), connecting researchers and stakeholders across the country. Individual C-CIARNoffices may be able to identify resources and expertise for more detailed analysis of climate change impacts on specific projects. Further information about C-CIARNcan be found at: http://www.c-ciarn.ca/.

Ouranos

Ouranos is a research consortium founded by seven departments of the Government of Québec, Hydro-Québec, and Environment Canada's Meteorological Service of Canada. It hosts the Quebec office of the C-CIARNnetwork. Ouranos looks at climate change issues and adaptation at the regional level throughout North America, although its area of emphasis is Quebec. It focuses on the needs of a changing group of users, the most proactive of which are the members of the Consortium. Through sharing human and financial resources, Consortium members gain access to scientific knowledge essential to decision making and to adapting their activities to climate change. Ouranos is accessible at: http://www.ouranos.ca.

Centre de Ressources en Impacts et Adaptation au Climat et à ses Changements is a Ouranos partnership site whose activities include climate monitoring, climate change scenarios development and linkages with the Ouranos site for Impacts and Adaptation issues. CRIACC can be found at: http://criacc.qc.ca.

Science Assessment Integration Group (Environment Canada)

The Science Assessment Integration Group within the Meteorological Service of Canada provides expert advice on impacts, predictions and modeled projections of climate change. Its Web site includes special reports on climate model projections for Canada, climate change and extreme weather, frequently asked questions, as well as annual reviews of emerging international literature, including those on impacts, which update the information available from IPCC. For more information visit the group's Web site at: http://www.msc.ec.gc.ca/saib/climate/climat_e.cfm.

Adaptation and Impacts Research Group (Environment Canada)

The Adaptation and Impacts Research Group (AIRG) within the MSC was established to ensure that information is available to Canadians on the environmental, social and economic impacts caused by vulnerabilities to atmospheric change, variability and extremes, and on viable adaptive responses. AIRG research results can be used by Canadians (e.g., decision and policy makers within communities, organizations, the private sector, and government) to promote and facilitate adaptation to atmospheric change, variability and extremes and to assist in identifying the need for other response options (e.g., mitigation when impacts and/or adaptation response are deemed unacceptable or insufficient). The main AIRG link is: http://www.msc-smc.ec.gc.ca/airg/

Climate Change Action Fund/Action Plan 2000 (Government of Canada)

The Climate Change Action Fund (CCAF) was established in 1998 by the federal government to help Canada meet its commitments under the Kyoto Protocol to reduce GHG emissions. Through the CCAF, the Government of Canada has taken steps to engage governments, businesses, communities and individual Canadians to address climate change. Budget 2000 extended the CCAF for three more years to 2003-2004 at $50 million per year. The CCAF now has five components:

  • Building for the Future
  • International Policy and Related Activities
  • Public Education and Outreach
  • Science, Impacts and Adaptation
  • Technology Early Action Measures (TEAM)

CCAF main Web site: http://climatechange.gc.ca/english/actions/action_fund/index.shtml.

The Science, Impacts and Adaptation (SIA) component of the CCAF aims to advance knowledge of the magnitude, rate and regional distribution of climate change and its impact on Canada and the capacity of Canadians to adapt to climate change. It supports global- and regional-scale climate modeling for impact and adaptation needs, as well as the development and provision of climate scenarios for impacts and adaptation researchers. It contributes to the development of adaptation strategies in regions and sectors where impacts are presently being felt and where decisions taken now have long-term implications. More information about the SIA program is available at: http://climatechange.gc.ca/english/actions/action_fund/science.shtml.

The Science Program within the SIA component of the CCAF has supported, among other things, research on climate and weather extremes, improvements to climate system models, and the development of sector-specific scenarios of climate change. More information about the Science program can be found at: http://www.ec.gc.ca/climate/CCAF-FACC/Science/lang.htm, or by contacting the Science Liaison Office (Environment Canada) at (819) 997-2724.

The Adaptation Liaison Office at Natural Resources Canada manages the federal Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation Program within the SIA component of CCAF. The program provides funding for research and activities to improve knowledge of Canada's vulnerability to climate change, to better assess the risks and benefits posed by climate change and to build the foundation upon which appropriate decisions on adaptation can be made. The Program also facilitates interaction between stakeholders and researchers through support of the Canadian Climate Impacts and Adaptation Research Network (C CIARN). More information can be found at:http://adaptation.nrcan.gc.ca.

Prairie Adaptation Research Collaborative

The Prairie Adaptation Research Collaborative (PARC) is a facilitative, interdisciplinary research network established to understand the potential impacts of climate change on the Canadian prairie provinces and conduct research necessary to develop appropriate adaptation strategies. It hosts the Prairies office of the C-CIARNnetwork. PARC was established in 2000 to:

  • promote and coordinate collaborative research among sectors and disciplines on climate change impacts and adaptation;
  • increase the synergy among participating groups and sectors to reduce the negative impacts of climate change while taking advantage of new opportunities that arise. PARC is located at: http://www.parc.ca/.

IV. Climate Change Policy

International Framework for Action on Climate Change

Government of Canada

  • A Climate Change Plan for Canada, November 2002: http://www.climatechange.gc.ca/plan_for_canada/index.html
  • National Climate Change Process: http://www.nccp.ca/NCCP/index_e.html
  • As part of its international commitment on climate change, Canada, along with other signatories to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), is obligated to submit to the UNFCCCSecretariat periodic national communications (reports). These reports are intended to provide a wide ranging and comprehensive update on a country's mitigation and adaptation efforts in response to climate change. Canada submitted its Third National Report on Climate Change in 2001. The report includes: an overview of Canada's National Implementation Strategy on Climate Change and resulting key policies and measures; a summary of Canada's national GHG inventory and projections of emissions to 2020; and an overview of the science, impacts (vulnerability assessment), and adaptation issues facing Canada in the future: http://www.climatechange.gc.ca/english/3nr/index.html

Federal, Provincial and Territorial Government Web sites on Climate Change

JurisdictionWeb Link
Government of Canadahttp://www.climatechange.gc.ca
British Columbiahttp://wlapwww.gov.bc.ca/air/climate/index.html
Yukonhttp://www.environmentyukon.gov.yk.ca/epa/climate.shtml
Albertahttp://www3.gov.ab.ca/env/climate/index.html
Saskatchewanhttp://www.serm.gov.sk.ca/environment/climatechange/
Manitobahttp://www.gov.mb.ca/conservation/climatechange
Northwest Territorieshttp://www.gov.nt.ca/RWED/eps/energy.htm
Ontariohttp://www.est.gov.on.ca/english/energy/en_air_climate.cfm
Quebechttp://www.mrn.gouv.qc.ca/climatiques/
Nunavuthttp://www.gov.nu.ca/sd.htm
New Brunswickhttp://www.gnb.ca/0078/index-e.asp
Nova Scotiahttp://www.gov.ns.ca/natr/climate/
Prince Edward Islandhttp://www.gov.pe.ca/infopei/Government/GovInfo/ Environment_and_Land/Climate_and_Weather/
Newfoundland and Labradorhttp://www.gov.nf.ca/env/

V. Canadian Environmental Assessment Processes

JurisdictionWeb Link
Federal Governmenthttp://www.ceaa-acee.gc.ca/
British Columbiahttp://www.eao.gov.bc.ca/
Yukonhttp://www.gov.yk.ca/depts/eco/dap/yeaa.html
Albertahttp://www3.gov.ab.ca/env/protenf/assessment/index.html
Saskatchewanhttp://www.serm.gov.sk.ca/environment/assessment/
Manitobahttp://www.gov.mb.ca/conservation/envapprovals/publs/procbull.html
Northwest Territorieshttp://www.rwed.gov.nt.ca/
Mackenzie Valley EIRBhttp://www.mveirb.nt.ca/
Ontariohttp://www.ene.gov.on.ca/envision/env_reg/ea/English/index.htm
Quebechttp://www.menv.gouv.qc.ca/programmes/eval_env
Nunavuthttp://www.gov.nu.ca/sd.htm; http://www.polarnet.ca/nirb/
New Brunswickhttp://www.gnb.ca/0009/0377/0002/index-e.html
Nova Scotiahttp://www.gov.ns.ca/enla/ess/ea
Prince Edward Islandhttp://www.gov.pe.ca/infopei/Government/GovInfo/EnvironmentandLand/ Environmental_Impact_Assessment/
Newfoundland and Labradorhttp://www.gov.nf.ca/env/Env/EA 2001/pages/index.htm