US & Canada

Climate change 'could hit Canada GDP' - report

Broken ice in Baffin Bay
Image caption Current federal estimates say climate change will cost Canada about $5bn a year by 2020

Negative effects of climate change could cost Canada the equivalent of 1% of its GDP by 2050 and 2.5% by 2075, a government-backed report has said.

Damage could reach C$41bn ($20bn; £27bn), estimates say, depending on global emissions, the economy and population growth.

Higher temperatures could kill forests, flood low-lying coastal areas and spread disease, the report said.

The panel denied that Canada would gain from global warming.

"Climate change presents a growing, long-term economic burden for Canada," said Canada's National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy (NRTEE).

'Strong, stable, responsible'

In a 162-page report, measures proposed included enhanced forest fire protection, pest control and an effort to foster the growth of climate-resilient trees.

The panel also recommended limiting construction in in low-lying coastal areas vulnerable to flooding, and developing technologies to limit pollution and slow ozone accumulation.

It said climate-related costs to Canada could increase from C$5bn in 2020 to between C$21bn and C$43bn by 2050.

These figures depended on co-ordinated global action to limit warming to 2C by 2050, the report said.

The findings of the panel were seized on by opposition politicians who believe the Conservative government should be doing more to confront the threat of global warming.

"Our coastal communities, our forestry industry, and the health of Canadians will all suffer unless we take action right now," said Laurin Liu, of the New Democrats, Canada's main opposition party.

"This out-of-touch government has produced no plan to deal with the impact of climate change," he added.

But Environment Minister Peter Kent said Canada needs "a strong, stable, environmentally responsible ... government to take care of the environment, and that is exactly what we are doing".

The report also said Canada had much to gain from an international, Kyoto-style treaty focussing on cutting carbon emissions beyond 2012.

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