Climate preparedness and adaptation
Preparing for climate change strengthens our ability to respond to extreme events like wildfires, flooding and heatwaves, as well as more gradual changes like water shortages and sea level rise. B.C.’s Climate Preparedness and Adaptation Strategy helps to protect ecosystems, lower long-term costs and keep people and communities safe.
On this page:
- Climate Preparedness and Adaptation Strategy
- Why prepare?
- How climate change affects B.C.
- How B.C. is preparing for climate change
B.C.'s draft Climate Preparedness and Adaptation Strategy helps to ensure we stay safe and respond effectively in a changing climate. It builds on the 2019 Preliminary Strategic Climate Risk Assessment, which examined some of the greatest risks to B.C. as a result of climate change.
The strategy highlights B.C.'s overall direction and the actions the Province is taking in 2021 to 2022 to help prepare for the impacts of climate change. It also presents a suite of proposed actions for 2022 to 2025.
A set of six draft principles have helped guide the choice of actions in the strategy and will continue to inform work going forward.
- Learn more about the Climate Preparedness and Adaptation Strategy
- Read the full draft Climate Preparedness and Adaptation Strategy (PDF, 8.6MB)
- Read the Draft Principles to Guide the Province of B.C.’s Work on Climate Preparedness and Adaptation (PDF, 2.8MB)
- Read a summary of the draft Climate Preparedness and Adaptation Strategy (PDF, 434KB)
The climate influences everything from the foods we can grow and the temperature in our homes, to the design of our roads and the types of plants and animals that make up an ecosystem.
While the province has always had events like wildfires, floods and droughts, climate change will increase their frequency and severity. These changes are driven by higher levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, created by many decades of activities such as burning fossil fuels and clearing land.
We can’t undo the past and avoid the effects of climate change, but we can be better prepared to adapt and reduce the impacts. Preparing now will help protect us from future shocks and strengthen the resilience of our communities, ecosystems and economy.
There’s also a strong business case for preparing. A 2019 report from the Global Commission on Adaptation notes that every dollar spent on measures to prepare for climate impacts results in savings of $2 to $10 in the future.
B.C.'s climate is already changing. Historical data from 1900 to 2013 indicates that the average annual temperature has risen by 1.4 °C. Winter night temperatures increased by an average of 3.1 °C.
Annual precipitation has increased across the province overall, though summers tend to be drier than in the past. Sea levels have also risen along most of the B.C. coast, and rivers have become warmer in the summer, negatively impacting salmon and other species.
To learn more about climate change trends in B.C. visit Environmental Reporting BC.
In the future, B.C. is projected to have warmer temperatures in all regions, though each region will face different climate impacts. Generally, climate change in B.C. is likely to include:
- Warmer temperatures in all seasons
- More intense and more frequent heavy-rain events
- Changes in growing seasons for crops and gardens
- Increased drought and water shortages
- Larger and more frequent wildfires
- Changes in streamflow patterns and lake levels
- Stronger storm surges and rising sea levels
- Changes in plant and animal distributions, and forest conditions
- Smaller snowpack and loss of glaciers
- Lowering the pH of the ocean (ocean acidification)
The actions proposed in the Climate Preparedness and Adaptation Strategy expand on a number of existing programs and initiatives to prepare for climate change across government, including:
- The Community Resiliency Investment Program assists Indigenous communities and local governments to reduce local wildfire threats
- Investments in 248 flood risk reduction projects across the province, developing a BC Flood Strategy and modernizing emergency management legislation
- Development of regional agricultural climate adaptation plans through Climate and Agriculture Initiative BC
- Requirements that future climate be incorporated into the design of transportation infrastructure, such as roads and bridges
- Guidance on sea dike design and coastal development to help coastal communities prepare for future sea-level rise