B.C. releases plan to prepare for climate change, seeks public input

THE Province announced on Wednesday that it is taking action to help British Columbia prepare for the impacts of climate change and is seeking public feedback on future work as part of the draft Climate Preparedness and Adaptation Strategy.

“People across British Columbia increasingly understand, first-hand, the serious effects of climate change. Record wildfires, extreme drought and increased flooding all show us that we must prepare and adapt at the same time as we work to reduce and change climate-harming activities,” said George Heyman, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy. “Our government is taking action now to build on the important work already underway to understand and prepare for climate change in British Columbia. Public engagement and input is critical to make sure that our strategy best serves and protects people and natural systems in the years to come.”

In Phase 1 of the draft Climate Preparedness and Adaptation Strategy, the Province will work with Indigenous Nations and local governments to strengthen community resilience, begin work on a B.C. flood strategy, improve the provincial response to extreme heat and wildfire smoke for people who are unhoused and housing insecure, and assess climate impacts on vulnerable highway culverts and resource roads.

Public consultation on the remaining actions and guiding principles in the draft strategy is open until August 12, 2021, on the government’s public engagement website.

“Working together to adapt to climate change is critically important to building a better, more resilient future for everyone,” said Lydia Hwitsum, political executive, First Nations Summit and member of B.C.’s Climate Solutions Council. “The Province’s draft strategy recognizes that partnerships with First Nations and respect for the rich and diverse knowledge systems Indigenous peoples hold of their territories is central to this work. By working together, we can choose a path that respects First Nations Title and Rights and creates inclusive responses to climate change.”

The Province has developed the strategy in collaboration with Indigenous peoples through two working groups and through multiple engagements with Indigenous communities and organizations. Additional input has come from municipalities and regional districts, academics, businesses, non-profits, youth and others.

“Local governments across the province know how important it is to prepare for a changing climate now by building more resilient communities,” said Toni Boot, Mayor of Summerland and member of the Climate Solutions Council. “The draft provincial adaptation strategy offers important opportunities for new partnerships and increased supports to improve local planning on climate adaptation.”

The draft strategy includes proposed actions to expand cultural and prescribed burning to reduce wildfire risks, support nature-based climate solutions, support pilot projects for water supply and demand management and establish an ocean acidification plan, among others.

“By partnering with engineering and geoscience professionals, who are actively figuring out solutions to the challenges our society faces in reducing emissions, the Province is supporting better infrastructure design, a growing role for nature-based solutions and building more resilient communities,” said Heidi Yang, CEO, Engineers and Geoscientists BC. “Integrating climate data into decision-making aligns with the climate adaptation goals of Engineers and Geoscientists BC through our Climate Change Action Plan and is a critical step towards ensuring we are planning ahead using the latest science.”

The Climate Preparedness and Adaptation Strategy is part of the Province’s CleanBC plan. CleanBC is a pathway to a more prosperous, balanced and sustainable future. It supports government’s commitment to climate action in meeting B.C.’s emission targets and building a cleaner, stronger economy for everyone.

Quick Facts

* The draft Climate Preparedness and Adaptation Strategy outlines actions planned to take place from 2022-25. A final version of the strategy is expected for release in early 2022.

* Through StrongerBC, government has invested $90 million to help the province prepare for climate change and support jobs for people during the pandemic.

* These investments include projects to conserve and restore watersheds and ecosystems through nature-based climate solutions that support more than 1,000 jobs, will reduce the risk of wildfires and create more than 500 jobs in rural communities, and includes projects to upgrade provincial highways and roads to make them more resilient to increased flooding.

Learn More:

To read the draft Climate Preparedness and Adaptation Strategy and provide comments, visit: www.engage.gov.bc.ca/climatereadybc