The effects of climate change -- a long-term shift in weather conditions, including temperature, precipitation, winds, and other indicators caused by human activities that release greenhouse gases -- are already being experienced around the world and in our watershed communities.
Climate Change is a fact in our daily living – raising the cost of our food, causing extreme weather that damages property and infrastructure, threatening outdoor activities we love….
It affects every aspect of our lives, so it is our collective responsibility to fight climate change together to ensure our children benefit from a cleaner planet.
Former Ontario Minister, Environment and Climate Change
Scientific evidence shows that as the climate changes, there will be increasing risks of extreme weather leading to flooding and drought, habitat change and biodiversity loss, and changes to water quality and supply.
Conservation authorities across the province, including NVCA, are responding to these and other threats posed by our changing climate through our ongoing work in flood risk mitigation, watershed monitoring, and land stewardship.
NVCA's Climate Change Strategy
NVCA has followed the 5-step milestone framework presented by the Local Governments for Sustainability. To date, NVCA has produced documents that correspond to the first 3 milestones reports of this framework: Initiate, Research, and Plan. NVCA has also developed the 2020-2025 Strategic Plan.
The strategy is being developed using the five milestone framework set out by ICLEI: Local Governments for Sustainability.
Climate change is recognized as a driver of change in the NVCA watershed and has been incorporated into the NVCA Integrated Watershed Management Plan, the 2020-2025 Strategic Plan and 2021-2025 Business Plan.
The 2022-2025 NVCA Climate Change Action Plan includes adaptation and mitigation measures and identifies the goals and targets NVCA will work towards and the how progress will be reported on.
The Climate Change Action Plan emphasizes the importance of responding to climate change, supporting the NVCA partners' actions to reduce impacts of climate change, and strengthening the commitment to face the challenges that climate change poses to NVCA's regulated municipalities and ecosystems.
The document outlines seven goals:
- Flood Protection: Work with partners and stakeholders to increase knowledge of how climate change will impact flooding and erosion levels in the Nottawasaga wastershed communities.
- Monitor: Enhance knowledge of the Nottawasaga Watershed's natural environment and its response to a changing climate.
- Communicate and Educate: Facilitate partnerships and connect people to the Nottawasaga Watershed in order to build awareness of climate change and capacity to adapt to climate impacts.
- Natural heritage: Improve natural heritage systems in the Nottawasaga Watershed to build resilience and assist with adaptation and mitigation.
- Stewardship and Land Conservation: Increase watershed resistance and resilience to climate change through conservation, restoration and improvement of natural systems.
- Partnerships: Be leaders in sustainability making NVCA the partner of choice for local climate change initiatives.
- Corporate Practices: Build corporate capacity to adapt to future climate projections and reduce NVCA's corporate carbon footprint by embracing a culture of conservation through using best practices and solutions while measuring progress and effectiveness.
The Climate Change Action Plan will be implemented and updated annually through the NVCA budget process.
Trends and Impacts
According to the UN, impacts of climate change are already being observed globally. Surface temperatures have risen, with 2011-2020 being the warmest decade on record. More heat waves are occuring, threatening public health. In many areas, storms and weather events have increased in frequency and intensity causing damages to people and nature. While in others, droughts have put stress on water and food availability.
Over the last decade, Canada has been warming at twice the global rate. Average annual temperatures in Canada have increased by 1.7°C between 1948 and 2016 and are projected to continue to increase between 1.8°C and 6.3°C by 2100. Future temperature increase is dependent on the amount of greenhouse gases emitted.
The Government of Canada has observed that temperature increases vary depending by region, with Northern Canada experiencing greater warming.
In the Nottawasaga Watershed, climate changes such as rising temperatures and more extreme weather events have been observed. Local projections in the Nottawasaga Valley Watershed include:
- Increased average air temperatures
- Increase in precipitation
- Wetter, warmer winters and springs, and drier, hotter summers
- Higher intensity storms
- Increased stream temperature as air temperature rises
- Longer growing season
- Longer heat waves
- Less days of frost
These changes may have social, economical, ecological impacts in the Nottawasaga Watershed. Infrastructure, transportation systems, energy systems may also be affected.
Related Climate Change Research