As Canada’s climate changes, some sectors of the country’s economy may soon see significant opportunities even as efforts to address those changes bring frustration elsewhere, notably to Canada’s fossil fuel sector.
In a new paper, Centre for International Governance Innovation Senior Fellow Jeff Rubin argues that four key Canadian sectors could benefit over the next few decades from a rapidly changing climate even as climate change mitigation efforts have negatively impacted other sectors. And the fact that the United States may no longer be a major player in climate change prevention will only further benefit these sectors.
Economic Opportunity from a Changing Climate looks closely at unique opportunities in four sectors: producing more value-added crops because of longer growing seasons and northward expansion of growing areas for corn and pulses; significant growth in the wind and solar power industries as coal-fired power is phased out; a growing market for hydro power, especially from Quebec, as a result of stricter emissions targets; and year-round shipping routes through the Northwest Passage that will allow Canada to offer a competitive advantage over other routes.
“Canada has long considered the costs related to combatting climate change as a threat to our economy,” said Rubin. “In fact, at least for some sectors, we are already seeing clear opportunities for direct economic benefits from a changing climate. But we can only take advantage of these opportunities if we take proactive steps now.”
Rubin’s paper recommends that:
- The governments of Alberta and Saskatchewan conduct a full assessment of the water requirements a shift in prairie agriculture to higher value-added crops would entail;
- Transmission infrastructure be upgraded to facilitate large-scale power exports from Quebec to Ontario, and that British Columbia and Alberta should explore the viability of new transmission lines to carry surplus BC hydro power to Alberta;
- The federal government should consider sharing the cost of needed upgrades of transmission lines across the country with provincial governments to facilitate greater interprovincial electricity transfers; and
- An Arctic strategy to develop shipping infrastructure should be established to realize the economic potential of Arctic shipping.