A new report from SCC makes it clear that investments in standards are necessary and urgent to ensure Canada’s infrastructure is climate-ready
Canada’s climate is changing faster than the global average. Our infrastructure can’t keep up with the impacts—floods, wildfires, permafrost thaw, coastal erosion, and other natural disasters are costing billions of dollars per year. If we do not change the way we build infrastructure to ensure it is climate-resilient, it could cost Canada $300 billion over the next decade.
According to one estimate, over a third of municipal infrastructure needs to be fixed or replaced. This is where standards come in. Canada needs infrastructure standards that reflect the climate of the future, not the past. From the roads and bridges we drive on to the foundations of the houses we live in, our infrastructure will be at risk if we do not take steps to better prepare for the future.
The Standards Council of Canada (SCC) is playing a crucial role in this work. Since 2016, SCC’s Standards to Support Resilience in Infrastructure Program has led the development of standards and related guidance to safeguard infrastructure and communities. With our standardization partners, we have advanced over 40 standardization strategies - everything from ensuring roofs can withstand stronger storms to helping homeowners manage flood risks.
But there is much more work to do. From February to August 2020, SCC consulted stakeholders across the country to find out what else is needed to help Canadians adapt to climate change. Through our Standards in Action: Building a Climate-Resilient Future Campaign we heard from hundreds of experts who rely on standards to design, build, and maintain buildings and infrastructure. Participants across Canada provided us with a wealth of information, insights, and recommendations.
Six key themes emerged from the campaign:
- Standards are needed to respond to all hazards, but the urgency of these hazards varies by region and sector in Canada
- Responses to climate change in Canada are emerging and maturing, but additional standards and supporting tools are needed
- Mobilizing standards will require more efforts on awareness, guidance, and capacity building
- Standardization could boost the cost-effectiveness of responding to more than 35 additional adaptation, mitigation, and sustainability-related challenges
- More than 100 standards urgently need updating for climate change
- Canada’s standardization system has room to be faster, more ambitious, and more inclusive of diverse perspectives
These key themes, detailed in a final report, underscore the importance of the work SCC has advanced to date in close partnership with standards development organizations (SDOs) and other key partners. The findings also highlight the risks of not taking further action to adapt to climate change. The report lays the foundation for extended and more ambitious action to prepare our infrastructure and communities for a changing climate, and will support SCC’s efforts to mobilize the national standardization system to meet these challenges.
"Our world’s climate is changing dramatically—and Canada’s climate is changing twice as fast as the global average,” says Chantal Guay, CEO of SCC. “We are seeing more forest fires, heatwaves, and storms than we have in the past, affecting Canadian lives and health and damaging buildings and infrastructure. By planning ahead and working together, we can adapt and protect communities against future losses. But standards need to be a central part of the plan. As Canada’s National Standards Body, SCC looks forward to continuing to support the development of climate-resilient standards. We will lead this work by doing what we do best: helping to solve complex issues by convening interested parties and the standardization network together to co-create the strategies and solutions needed to protect the health and safety of all Canadians”.
About the Standards Council of Canada
Established in 1970 as a federal Crown corporation, the Standards Council of Canada (SCC) is Canada’s voice on standards and accreditation on the national and international stage. SCC works closely with a vast network of partners to promote the development of effective and efficient standards that protect the health, safety and well-being of Canadians while helping businesses prosper. As Canada’s leading accreditation organization, SCC creates market confidence at home and abroad by ensuring that conformity assessment bodies meet the highest national and international standards. SCC advances Canada’s interest on the international scene as a member of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) by connecting thousands of people to global networks and resources, opening a world of possibilities for Canadians and businesses.