New Brunswick

New Brunswick coasts are at risk, climate change report says

A new report on the climate change predicts New Brunswick will have the highest annual per capita cost for damage to homes from coastal flooding in the Atlantic provinces.

Environment Minister Danny Soucy says new 'normals' in weather can have costly impacts

New Brunswick will have the highest annual per capita cost for damage to homes from coastal flooding in the Atlantic provinces, according to new climate change report.

The provincial government's Climate Change Action Plan 2014-2020 says the annual cost is expected to reach $730 to $1,803 per New Brunswicker by 2050.

A cottage hangs precariously on the New Brunswick coastline at Cap-de-Cocagne on Route 530 in 2010. (Courtesy of Gilles Allain)
If New Brunswick's population was 700,000 in 2050, that would put the annual cost of damage from coastal flooding in the province as high as $1.2 billion a year.

The predicted per capita damage cost from coastal flooding in New Brunswick would be five times higher than the Canadian average

"The loss of coastal land through erosion poses risks to homes and industries, native plant and animal species and ecosystems and tourist sites such as the Hopewell Rocks," states the report.

The sea level in New Brunswick is predicted to rise by 14 centimetres by about 2030 and by one metre by the end of this century.

Sea level rise will lead to deeper and more frequent coastal flooding, states the report.

"Coastal areas also face the risk of greater rates of erosion, water well contamination by sea water and permanent loss of low-lying coastal areas," according to the report.

The report states the impacts of climate change have already started to appear in New Brunswick as temperatures are rising and "high intensity precipitation events" are becoming more common.

Flood waters rage in St. George after heavy rains in December 2009. (CBC)
In the 2000s, Fredericton and Moncton had more "extreme" rainfall events — defined as 50 millimetres or more in 24 hours — than during any other decade on record.

"In other words, New Brunswick's 'normal' weather is no longer what it used to be and more change is anticipated in the future," states the report.

Annual temperatures in New Brunswick have increased by 1.5 degrees Celsius over the past 100 years, with 1.1 C of that increase coming in the last 30 years.

The report says climate models predict New Brunswick's average annual temperature to increase another 3 to 3.5 C by 2100.

"New Brunswick can expect longer and warmer summers and a shorter winter season," states the report.

"This will have repercussions on various sectors across the province."

Recreation and tourism stand to be affected by reduced opportunities for winter activities while agriculture could see a longer growing season, as well as the potential introduction of new pests and invasive species.

Ice jam flooding like the kind that hit Sussex in April is likely to be more prevalent in the future, says the province's latest report on climate change. (Connell Smith/CBC)
The likelihood of ice jam flooding in rivers is likely to increase, while cold water fish species, including Atlantic salmon, stand to be impacted negatively by warmer water. There will also be an increased risk of forest fires.

The overview of what is known about climate change today in New Brunswick was released by Environment Minister Danny Soucy as part of the government's action plan to deal with the issue.

"Climate change poses wide-reaching challenges for our communities, our natural environment and our economy," said Soucy.

"As recently experienced in our province, extreme weather events, such as intense precipitation, storm surges and mid-winter melting and jamming of river ice, can cause significant loss of property, damage to livelihoods and costs to human health.

"Such trends are a clear indication that we are experiencing "new normals" in weather that can have costly impacts."

Soucy says the government's plan to deal with climate change will focus on increasing resilience to the impacts of climate change and reducing greenhouse gas emissions "while at the same time encouraging sustainable economic growth."


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