Severe climate events have cost the BC economy billions more than reported estimates

Opinion: As an immediate consequence, the first and often only estimates are for insured damage to property. But insured losses are just the tip of the proverbial iceberg.

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Caroline and Paul Mosterman have experienced extreme weather in their more than 40 years of farming. But it’s a far cry from the experience when the Soumas Prairie farm was flooded in November 2021.

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The couple did not have flood insurance because they farmed on the flood plains. So when their farm buildings, blueberry seedlings, nurseries, agricultural machinery, etc. were overwhelmed by rising water levels, they were hit hard.

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“Financial recovery will take years. This is mentally, emotionally and physically taxing,” Caroline said nine months after the historic floods.

The shock to the Mosterman family is part of a much larger story that includes the unprecedented heat domes of June and July 2021, the horrific wildfires that followed, and the triple assault on British Columbia’s environment and economy from flooding. department.

The cumulative economic impact of these events has not been adequately considered, but it does, given that more frequent and extreme weather events are certainly ahead of us as a result of climate change. I have.

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Not only can we experience multiple climate attacks in a single year, like 2021, but each can amplify the climate change of the other. Last year’s extreme heat, for example, set the stage for more intense wildfires, burning so fiercely in some basins, changing water flows and exacerbating November’s floods.

Estimating the full cost of a climate catastrophe, let alone multiple catastrophes, is not easy. As an immediate consequence, the first and often only estimates are for insured damage to property. But insured losses are just the tip of the proverbial iceberg.

Considering the widespread prevalence of uninsured losses, among many other factors, the estimated economic hits associated with extreme weather events in 2021 are in range, according to new research released today by the Canadian Center for Policy Alternatives. is shown. $10.6 billion to $17.1 billion.

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This gives BC the dubious distinction of having endured the worst climate disaster in Canada’s history.

Our research, conducted in partnership with Vancity, considered property and property damage, including uninsured damage to households and businesses.

By our estimates, the Mostermans were part of a large, unlucky group with combined uninsured losses from last year’s floods and landslides ranging from “low” $1.6 billion to high of $5 billion. You can The higher number is based on what insurers typically pay for land-based flood damage (12 cents on the dollar), with a lower figure if the insurer covers 30% of the total loss. .

We also looked at workers’ loss of income due to various factors such as business closures and downsizing. Some of these losses were due to damaged or destroyed highways and railroads, which greatly disrupted supply and distribution networks. Others included the destruction of core assets such as cherry harvesting, which is literally cooked on trees, and spillover effects on migrant workers who have lost the ability to pick.

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By our estimates, the heat dome took $205 million to $328 million out of people’s pockets.

We also factored in the increased costs associated with dealing with wildfires, disaster response, and cleaning up and rebuilding critical infrastructure.

We also examined the impact on vulnerable and marginalized communities, including First Nations, who were evacuated due to fires and floods, and in some cases twice to deal with successive disasters.

Overall, the total cost of extreme weather in 2021 will represent approximately 3-5% of the state’s economy (GDP), prompting senior levels of government to fund critical infrastructure to protect homes and businesses. Findings highlighting the need for a significant increase. and community.

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In Merritt, inadequate dyke failure along the Coldwater River has caused extensive damage to homes, businesses, and public infrastructure, including bridges and wastewater facilities.

The estimated cost of Merritt’s new levee is capped at $169 million, a cost that probably cannot be met by the city’s annual tax base of $9 million.

It’s not a matter of whether other climate disasters await us, it’s just a question of when.

The question of $17 billion today is whether we are prepared for it.

Mark Lee is a senior economist and Ben Parfitt is a resource policy analyst in the CCPA BC office.

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Severe climate events have cost the BC economy billions more than reported estimates

Source link Severe climate events have cost the BC economy billions more than reported estimates

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