Exchanging Ideas on Climate
National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy
Exchanging ideas on Climate

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True North: Adapting Infrastructure to Climate Change in Northern Canada

Key Observations From True North

  • The North is susceptible to breakdowns in infrastructure because of a lack of back-up systems for key services like hospitals, airports and communications, among others.

  • Codes, standards and related instruments often lack specifications for northern construction.

  • Early springs can cause ice roads to melt sooner, forcing individuals, companies, governments and others to use more expensive forms of transportation, like air-lifts.

  • Melting permafrost can compromise the integrity of a large number of forms of infrastructure, including buildings, pipelines and industrial waste dumps.

  • In some parts of northern Canada, the mean annual temperatures that are reported in the design values for some codes, standards and related instruments are 2C behind current averages.

  • Climate change issues are a significant challenge to the budgets of northern governments, which must often make difficult choices on where best to expend public dollars.

  • Better co-ordination among all levels of government can save money and make for smoother planning processes.

  • Of Nunavut?s 26 communities, 25 are located on coasts, making them more vulnerable to increased sea levels and wave action.

  • Adjusting liability insurance policies can create incentives for builders to modify construction practices aimed at making infrastructure more resilient.

  • Changes in weather patterns, especially warmer temperatures, can cause difficulties for remote communities reliant on winter roads for the supply of goods and services.

  • In the absence of reliable climate data and information, infrastructure builders don?t always have the necessary tools to guide their decision-making to ensure that new construction will withstand the realities of changing conditions (e.g. snow loads on roofs).

  • Infrastructure practitioners and other users of climate-related data for infrastructure design and construction will need to recognize the limitations of basing decisions on climate conditions projected by models.

  • Implementing better codes, standards and related instruments such as guidelines, will allow Canada to take advantage of new opportunities such as the commercialization of new materials and technologies adapted to cold climates.

  • Ensuring the resilience of northern infrastructure to a changing climate is paramount to the safeguarding of national and northern security interests.