Economic Opportunities from a Changing Climate

CIGI Paper No. 118

February 21, 2017

Few countries have seen their economic aspirations frustrated by the imperatives of mitigating climate change as much as Canada, which once dreamt of parlaying its vast oil sands resource into becoming an energy superpower. However, global climate change, in conjunction with the national and international policies designed to mitigate it, will present some unique opportunities for the Canadian economy over the next several decades. Warming temperatures and longer growing seasons open the door to producing more value-added crops as the corn and soybean belts migrate north. The market for renewable wind and solar power in Canada is expected to see a quantum leap over the next decade and a half, as coal-fired power is phased out across the country. Stringent emission reduction targets in northeastern US states point to a growing market for Canadian hydro power, while there is a compelling economic case for Ontario to import comparatively cheap surplus hydro power from Quebec as an alternative to the costly refurbishing of its aging nuclear power plants. In the longer term, the melting of ice in the Arctic Ocean opens up the possibility of year-round shipping routes through the once-frozen Northwest Passage, which offers significant distance savings over traditional shipping lanes through the Panama or Suez Canals. 

Part of Series

CIGI Papers Series

CIGI Papers present in-depth analysis and discussion on governance-related subjects. They include policy papers that present CIGI experts' positions or contributions to policy debates, and background papers that contain research findings, insights and data that contribute to the development of policy positions.

About the Author