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Climate Change Risks not Being Adequately Managed: BC Auditor General

The province faces significant challenges in flood, drought, and wildfire according to a report released Thursday by BC’s Auditor General.

Carol Bellringer says although the B.C. government has a lot of work underway to adapt, it has not comprehensively assessed the risks the province faces and does not have a plan to move forward.

“Government’s wildfire prevention activities such as eliminating fuel like debris are not sufficient and they need be booth coordinated and target areas of greatest risk. There’s also a need for more research on the impacts of climate change on wildfire in the province.”

Bellringer adds that they found gaps in climate data throughout the province.

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“There are fewer climate data monitoring stations in the north of the province and at high elevations as well there is a need for more monitoring on small rivers and streams,” she says.

“These gaps limit government’s ability to make informed decisions.”

The report according to Bellringer identified keys areas where the government needs to improve its’ response to climate change and made 15 recommendations for adaptation and 2 for mitigation.

“As part of our audit we spoke with 33 local governments around the province to understand their challenges,” she notes.

“Local governments reported that they face significant challenges in adapting to climate change including a lack of support from the provincial government. Also the government has not yet significantly involved First Nation communities in mitigating and adapting to climate change.”

From 1900 to 2013, B.C.’s average temperature increased faster than the global average.

Government according to Environment and Climate Change Strategy Minister George Heyman agree with Bellringer’s report that stronger action must be taken.

“We accept the recommendations in the report and will work to ensure their intent is achieved,” he said. in a news release.

“Our government understands that B.C. needs to prepare for, and adapt to, climate change. In 2017, B.C. experienced the worst wildfire season in our history. We expect to see more impacts from extreme weather in the future and we must do whatever we can to prepare for the effects of climate change.”

Heyman also agreed that the legislated 2020 emissions reduction target will not be met.

“That is why our government will introduce a new legislated target for 2030 of a 40% reduction in carbon emissions below 2007 levels,” he said.

“We are also increasing B.C.’s carbon tax by $5 per tonne per year, beginning April 1, 2018.”

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