Making P.E.I. resilient to climate change

The P.E.I. government has scheduled three public engagement sessions for feedback on the Prince Edward Island Climate Change Adaptation Recommendations draft report.

Final consultations to be held on report outlining what P.E.I. should do to adapt to changing climate

Erosion is encroaching on coastal structures such as lighthouses. (Submitted by Carol Livingstone)

A draft report on climate change adaptation prepared for the P.E.I. government calls the issue "one of the greatest threats posed to the future of humankind," and says work on the Island must begin immediately in preparation.

The report, written by the UPEI Climate Lab, says while efforts to reduce man-made greenhouse gas emissions are important, "those alone are unlikely to be sufficient to eliminate the negative impacts of climate change."

It goes on to outline how climate change could impact everything in the province from agricultural practices to public health and safety to tourism, providing 86 recommendations in 10 key sectors of Island society.

Longer growing season, more irrigation needed

One of the expected impacts could be welcomed by Island farmers: a growing season up to 25 days longer could allow for new crops like lentils and chickpeas that could be more lucrative for farmers. But the longer season could also allow for new pests and diseases and increase the severity of outbreaks.

The added heat will increase evaporation, while at the same time precipitation levels are predicted to continue to decline, with droughts expected to be more frequent.

The report from the UPEI Climate Lab says the P.E.I. growing season could be extended by another 25 days. But the extra heat from climate change could pave the way for new pests and diseases. (CBC News)

The report recommends the province take a detailed look at potential and existing crop varieties, along with new pests and pathogens. It also urges a review of irrigation practices, as that need will increase as the environment becomes warmer and drier.

The report calls for new design and land-use planning standards to take into account the increased likelihood of extreme rain events and coastal flooding. It encourages government to perform a cost-analysis on roads and bridges that could be at risk, to compare the cost of pro-active upgrades versus repair work after infrastructure has been damaged.

Longer shoulder season

For the tourism industry, the report outlines the opportunity to expand shoulder season traffic to take advantage of rising temperatures. At the same time it says golf courses could find it more difficult to obtain enough water for irrigation, and may need to explore new varieties of turf.

Adam Fenech is pleased with the level of engagement in the process so far. (CBC)

And the report calls for changes in household insurance, calling on companies to develop products to offer coverage against extreme weather events like coastal flooding, which currently don't exist. At the same time, the report says the insurance industry and government should work to encourage homeowners to take steps to make their homes less prone to flooding, even if it's a simple step like installing a rain barrel to reduce the risk of a flooded basement. 

3 more public consultations

The P.E.I. government has scheduled three public engagement sessions for feedback on the draft report.

Online feedback has been available throughout the summer.

"There was a strong sense of willingness and eagerness to collaborate on making the ecology, society, and economy of Prince Edward Island more resilient to the impacts of climate change," said climate lab director Adam Fenech in a news release.

The public consultation sessions will be:

  • Tuesday, Oct. 17, 5 p.m., Andrew Hall Building (Room 142), UPEI, Charlottetown.
  • Oct. 18, 7 p.m.,  Summerside Community Church.
  • Oct. 19, 7 p.m., Riverhouse Inn, Montague.

Online feedback is open until Oct. 20.

With files from Kerry Campbell and Kevin Yarr