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Climate Change Could be Expensive for Canada

Posted on 30 September 2011 by John Hartz

This is a reprint of a news release posted by Canada's National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy (NRT) on Sep 19, 2011.


Unless global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are brought down and Canada invests in adaptation, the economic impacts of climate change on Canada could climb to billions of dollars per year, according to a new report released today by the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy (NRT).  

Paying the Price: the Economic Impacts of Climate Change for Canadathe  fourth report in the NRT’s Climate Prosperity series – is the first national study to show what the economic consequences to Canada could be as a result of climate change, under four separate scenarios involving two factors: global GHG emissions and Canadian economic and population growth. 

Report Findings

Although Canada contributes approximately 1.5% of global emissions, the report concludes that climate change impacts brought about by increased world-wide emissions have a real and growing economic cost to Canada.  It also shows that adaptation – our capacity to manage the impacts to come – while not cost-free, is a cost-effective way to alleviate some of those impacts.

Based on NRT original economic modelling, the report finds that the economic impact on Canada could reach: 

  • 2020: $5 billion per year
  • 2050: Between $21 and $43 billion per year

The report also estimates a five per cent chance that costs could escalate to $91 billion in 2050 if Canada’s population and economic growth is rapid and global climate change is high.  

Because climate change impacts will manifest themselves sectorally and regionally in different ways across the country, the NRT also focused on the economic impacts and cost-effectiveness of adaptation strategies for three representative areas:  timber supply, coastal areas and human health.  

In the 2050s:

  • Timber supply impacts could range from $2 billion to $17 billion per year with high impacts in B.C.
  • Flooding damages to coastal dwellings, resulting from climate change-induced sea-level rise and storm surges, could cost between $1 billion to $8 billion per year with higher than average cost impacts in Atlantic Canada
  • Poorer air quality resulting from higher temperatures will lead to more hospital visits, resulting in millions of dollars in costs to local health care systems for four of Canada’s major cities – Toronto, Montréal, Vancouver and Calgary

The NRT also assessed if cost savings would occur as a result of proactive climate adaptation measures such as enhanced forest fire management and restricting coastal development in flood-prone areas. The report concludes that adaptation can save money by reducing the physical and economic impacts of climate change. The economic benefits of investing in adaptation outweighed the costs of simply letting rising climate impacts and costs occur in most instances. 

“Climate change has a price tag and it could be expensive,” said NRT President and CEO, David McLaughlin.  “While our report makes it clear that getting global emissions down is both in our economic and environmental interest, it also shows that adaptation is key in reducing impacts on people, places and prosperity.”

Specific recommendations include further investment by the Government of Canada in increasing our country’s expertise in the economics of climate change impacts and adaptation, and further use of economic analysis to inform allocation of adaptation funding.  The report also recommends that all levels of governments continue investing in producing and disseminating research to guide adaptation decision-making by business, communities, and individuals. 

“This report sets out to help all of us – governments, business, and communities – to make climate-wise investment choices now, and in the future.  The economic information we provide here will further help us understand what is at stake if we fail to respond and GHG emissions continue to rise,” said NRT Vice-Chair Robert Slater.

About the Round Table

Through the development of innovative policy research and considered advice, the NRT’s mission is to help Canada achieve sustainable development solutions that integrate environmental and economic considerations to ensure the lasting prosperity and well-being of our nation.  The NRT is the only national organization with a direct mandate from Parliament to engage Canadians in the generation and promotion of sustainable development advice.

The report is available on the Round Table’s website:  www.nrtee-trnee.ca


NRT’s Climate Prosperity Reports Series

Report #1: Measuring Up: Benchmarking Canada’s Competitiveness in a Low-Carbon World (May 20, 2010)

In the global transition to a low-carbon economy, Canadian competitiveness is at stake. We need to determine where we can succeed and gain in achieving a low-carbon performance that will create jobs and opportunity for Canadians. This study examines how Canada ranks within the G8 nations for low-carbon performance.

Climate prosperity means competing with the world to build and new low-carbon future for Canada and Canadians. The green race is on. Canada needs to be ready.

Report #2: Degrees of Change: Climate Warming and the Stakes for Canada (Dec 16, 2010)

This report is about how Canada will be affected in a climate-changing world. The earth is warming and Canada is already experiencing this change at an even faster rate than other nations. Climate change promises to be both pervasive and pernicious. What will it mean to Canada? How will it impact us? What can we expect?

Forewarned is forearmed. The world is warming and Canada will feel the effects. We need to know what climate impacts are coming so we can adapt and prosper.

Rport#3: Parallel Paths: Canada-U.S. Climate Policy Choices (Jan 25, 2011) 

Uncertainty about American climate policy shapes Canada’s own policy choices and direction. By necessity, our integrated economies require serious consideration of harmonizing Canadian climate policy with that of the United States. But different energy economies and greenhouse gas emission profiles in the two countries create different economic and environmental implications for Canada as we pursue such a harmonized policy approach.

Greenhouse gases know no borders. Parallel paths – together but different – allow Canada to harmonize climate policy with the U.S. while meeting our national needs and goals.

Report #4: "Paying the Price: The Economic Impacts of Climate Change for Canada" (Sep 19, 2011)

The following paragraphs from Chapter 7 (page 117) of this report detail its scope.

“Degrees of Change” (NRT Report #2) showed what the physical impacts of climate warming could be for Canada; “Paying the Price” shows what the economic impacts could be for Canada.

Many of these impacts will be negative and many will carry a cost. Together, these two NRTEE reports help Canadians know more about what climate change impacts could be and how much they could cost. Understanding the costs of climate change in economic terms is essential to help us remain prosperous through climate change. This understanding helps all of us — governments, business, communities — make climate-wise investment choices. Economic information helps us understand what is at stake if we fail to respond and global greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise. Here we underline the economic damages associated with global emissions. Canada contributes approximately 1.5 per cent of global emissions158; although high on a per capita basis, it is dwarfed by emissions from everywhere else. Emissions from abroad — not just our own — represent the greatest economic risk to Canada. But equally, our emissions contribute to imposing costs on the rest of the world. This NRTEE analysis shows compelling evidence for Canada to advocate for a strong international arrangement that brings those emissions down, on both environmental and economic grounds.

Throughout this report, we explored the potential economic costs — of impacts as well as adaptation investment — associated with climate change in Canada. We did so to learn more about the economic scale of the problem to our country. And we did so to begin to figure out how to cope with what can only be a growing challenge by considering how adaptation can reduce impacts of climate change and lessen costs to Canadians.

To do so — the first time ever in Canada — we conducted original economic modelling of the costs of inaction to Canada, of letting growing climate change run its course. Next, to fill out our analysis and understanding, we undertook detailed representative studies of what climate change could mean to Canada’s prosperity (timber supply), places (coastal areas), and people (human health). Finally, we explored the economic value of ecosystems to understand how a changing climate could affect how Canadians use and view this aspect of Canada.

 

 

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Comments

Comments 1 to 44:

  1. Canada also better start thinking what a 4 degree C global temperature rise means for the habitability of the lower latitudes. It means mass migration north!
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  2. What was interesting was that the report only included the costs associated with climate change in their calculations. While the report alluded to the benefits (increased tourism, agricultural production, and decreased energy costs), no monetary value was assigned to them. Likewise, the increased deaths due to warmer summertime temperatures were included, but not the decreased deaths due to warmer wintertime temperatures. In a country where cold is a bigger issue than warmth, I would think this would be rather relevant.

    Overall, the report focused almost exclusively on the cons, while omitting the pros. It is hard to take something like this very seriously. This is not to argue that nothing should be done because Canada might benefit, but rather reports like this, (-Snip-).
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    Response:

    [DB] Inflammatory snipped.

  3. Jonathon:

    With regards to:
    Likewise, the increased deaths due to warmer summertime temperatures were included, but not the decreased deaths due to warmer wintertime temperatures. In a country where cold is a bigger issue than warmth, I would think this would be rather relevant.

    I would not be too sure of this.

    While one would have to go to Statistics Canada or a similar source to get a full picture, I have found these links to some major cold- and heat-related weather events on Environment Canada's website.

    The events at the bottom of the pages are, I am led to understand, the biggest in the database. There is a single heat wave event (to be fair, in the midst of the Depression) with 1,186 recorded fatalities; a number two orders of magnitude greater than that of any of the cold snap events with fatalities themselves.

    Perhaps I shall look into this more on the weekend.

    At any rate, even if Canada were to find that, at the national level, the benefits of global warming outweighed the costs, these benefits would not be evenly distributed regionally within Canada, and of course they would pale in comparison to the costs of low-lying, sub-tropical and tropical regions (e.g. Louisiana, Texas, Florida, the Netherlands, Bangladesh, &c, &c).
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  4. Jonathon,

    Increased wintertime temperatures may lead to more deaths rather than less. You have to recognize two things, first that warmer temperatures will result in greater extreme precipitation events in Canada and greater variance; and secondly (most importantly) a lot of Canadians travel on ice in the North. I've already first hand seen (I'm from Northern Canada and of Inuit descent) the increase in people going through the ice on skidoo and getting into dangerous situations because of dangerous ice conditions due to increase wintertime warmth.

    We are far better suited up here to deal with cold than we are with heat.
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  5. Jonathon @2,

    "Overall, the report focused almost exclusively on the cons, while omitting the pros."

    You are missing some key points. This report forms part of an ongoing "Climate Prosperity series" series, each report deals with specifc aspects of AGW and how it will likely affect Canada. So the report featured here has to be viewed in context. The report under discussion here was written because:

    "Little attention had been paid to the costs of inaction on global climate change and what this could mean to Canada economically as greenhouse gas emissions rise and climate change plays out. No nationally-focused economic study existed, until now. We found that climate change has a real and growing price tag to Canada and it could be expensive."

    Earlier this year NRT produced a report titled "Degrees of Change: Climate Warming and the Stakes for Canada". The purpose of that report was to document,

    "how Canada will be affected in a climate-changing world. The earth is warming and Canada is already experiencing this change at an even faster rate than other nations. Climate change promises to be both pervasive and pernicious. What will it mean to Canada? How will it impact us? What can we expect?"

    In that report more focus was placed on the pros and opportunities.

    The NRT has looked at this very closely and at the end of the day the pros are probably going to outweigh the cons, and adaptation and mitigation will be costly, and doing nothing will cost us even more. One of their primary conclusions is that:
    "The highest costs result from a refusal to acknowledge these costs and adjust through adaptation."
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  6. Jonathan,

    The report cites this peer-reviewed study, which shows negligible change in winter mortality in 3 Canadian cities assessed.

    On "reduced energy demand", note that the report also doesn't quantify increased energy demand due to increased use of air conditioning, so it's quite a stretch to classify that shortcoming as one-sided.

    I haven't read the whole report and can't comment on the other potential benefits you mention. It's always preferrable, in my view, for these sorts of studies to be published in peer-reviewed journals, as that process can tighten them up.

    Mainstream economic studies (example: U.S. EPA, DoE) tend to not include in assessment of benefits reduced climate change and pollution, and reduced military costs. I wouldn't conclude that economists look "foolish", although I'll note that such studies often get cited as evidence of a net negative economic impact.
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  7. Albatross,

    If the earlier NRT report concluded that the pros outweighed the cons, why should we focus on this new report where the pros are omitted, and only the cons are listed?

    Even though Canada is better adapted to cold weather than many other counties, the death rate is still highest in the winter months.
    http://www.cmaj.ca/content/181/8/484/F1.expansion.html

    By the way, air conditioning costs in Canada cannot compare to heating costs.
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    Moderator Response: [John Hartz] For better or for worse, SkS did not post articles on the first three reports produced by NRT when they were released. We encourage you and all other readers to peruse the entire set of reports. I will provide direct links to each of the first three reports as an addendum to the above article.
  8. Canada is in an interesting position. Not only do they consume carbon based fuel at a per capita rate comparable to the US, but they also sit on one of the largest resource of very carbon intensive oil. Short of producing oil from coal it is tough to beat tar sands for carbon intensity when it comes to mile driven.
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  9. Add to #8: And if we Yanks don't get our XL straw to suck it all up with, Canada seem all to willing to sell it to China.
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  10. Sorry to dribble…
    Obscure references deserve links, particularly on an international forum. Here’s a couple:
    http://www.vancouversun.com/business/Pipelines+coast+more+important+than+Keystone+HSBC/5453565/story.html
    http://www.marketwatch.com/story/canadian-crude-under-attack-on-two-fronts-2011-09-29
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  11. Jonathan (#7),

    There are fallacies in your reasoning. It's not so relevant what the current death rate is but how it changes in response to climate change. The study I linked (also cited by the report) indicates little change in mortality in winter months going forward in 3 Canadian cities.

    Similarly, what matters to energy costs is how they change over time, not what they currently are. Could be that heating costs are reduced more than AC costs are increased in a warming climate. It also could be that Canadian homes are built for heat efficiency, and so energy costs will be more sensitive to increased summer heating. I do think it would have been nice if they estimated changes in energy costs, but it's not clear to me which direction it would go. The report indicates that this is not meant to be the last word on the topic.
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  12. Jonathan,

    I'm sorry, but anyone who is expecting any positives to come out of real climate change (I'm not talking about the dinky little early climate change we see now, I'm talking about where we're headed) is absolutely kidding themselves.

    For example, you talk about increased agricultural production. Sorry, no. This has been discussed to death, but warmer does not have to equal better. It can also mean more pests (i.e. a better world for insects, not plants, or for weeds, not useful crops).

    Also, plants need light. Making it warm further north won't affect the amount of daylight available, or how direct that light is.

    One thing that I learned that surprised me is that you can't simply move agricultural production north because of topsoil. You need topsoil, and a lot of the land further north has had the topsoil scraped clean by advancing ice sheets during glacial periods.

    There are other threads that discuss this. You should research them before donning those rose colored glasses.
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  13. Jonathon @9,

    You would be in a position to answer your own question if you read the reports.

    The rest of your post just argues strawmen and floats red herrings.
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  14. As a Canadian Lover-of-this-website, (for its attention to science)

    I must say I'm glad my country is getting some sks time.

    Canada's economy should grow as fossil fuels become more difficult to extract. This will happen with or without global warming. I imagine our water resources will become more valuable if the climate warms - also a plus financially.
    Blueberries can become a larger crop for as we warm etc. More tourism would also be enjoyed.

    But there are certainly negatives, and you will be hard pressed to find an honest economist who will defend that the status-quo fossil fuel use is financially prudent.

    This past decade 2000-2010, our insurance claims have more than doubled over the previous decade.
    http://www.canadianunderwriter.ca/news/aviva-canada-claims-data-show-increased-frequency-severity-of-water-claims-costs/1000406401/

    I imagine that the latitudes that Canada inhabits will be a battleground between the arctic air and the warm air from the south as new "normals" are set and then changed again. Our precipitation should increase, and climate get weirder by the climate models I have seen.

    We have had some bad experiences with invasive species that should not be neglected in "cost to Canada" calculations, and we already have "climate refugees" in the far North as permafrost melts where it hasn't melted before in many many years collasping the ground beneath buildings.

    I look forward to a better financial future, however I am skeptical.
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    Response:

    [DB] Canada was also featured prominently in this thread: Twice as much Canada, same warming climate.

  15. Hi Man,

    Nice to see a reasonable post added to the antagonistic rhetoric displayed earlier. I do not know whether the pros actually outweigh the cons as reported by Albatross in the earlier NRT report, but at least someone else is willing to acknowledge that they exist. Sphaerica seems to object to the mention of agricultural benefits in the report, (-Snip-). Discussing only the negatives, without acknowledging the positives is akin to a corporation reporting revenues only, and omitting costs. It would look quite lopsided.

    I am only a border Canadian (I live in Michigan), but we have experienced some of the same positives/negatives as our friends to the North.
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    Moderator Response: [DB] "I do not know whether the pros actually outweigh the cons"

    Perhaps then you should actually do the background reading, as suggested, before making such seemingly authoritative statements.  Else your comments look quite lopsided.

    Inflammatory snipped.

  16. I'm with Jonathan in so far as "reports like this, which are extremely biased to one side, make the entire environmental movement to reduce energy consumption and CO2 emissions look foolish." They may be correct, but to many they *look* foolish. We must accept that this is true for some people's perspective and then address it accordingly.

    Whether specifics aound death rates, argriculture, etc. are pros or cons are each great topics to discuss. But let me ask this: Are those of you chiming in to denounce him advocating eitehr of the following:
    - There are no benefits to climate change at all.
    - Discussion focusing on costs need not be set in the context of benefits, however small.

    As an avid SkS reader ready to refute denialism thanks to lots of great articles, I see this enthusiasm to write off any small financial impacts as cherry-picking. We have many more difficult people to convince than Jonathan - why not acknowledge the small benefits and then show how they are buried by the negatives?
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    Moderator Response: [John Hartz] Jonathan has opined about what is contained in a summary description of a report. Before you embrace his opinion, I suggest that you actually read the report itself. Whether or not Jonathan has actually read the report is an open question.
  17. Energy costs will also be impacted by continued glacier retreat which will impact hydropower at locations like Bridge Glacier or Apex Glacier. In these locations declining summer glacier runoff will lead to lower hydropower production unless more water is stored at another time of the year, though that is not possible in many locations due to flood control.
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  18. 16, ianw01,
    Are those of you chiming in to denounce him advocating ... [that there] are no benefits to climate change at all [?]


    I would simply warn that most imagined benefits are only superficially conceived, and are unlikely to come to fruition.

    A study of the actual impact of climate change on agriculture -- the very narrow range of light, temperature, moisture, and seasons in which selected crops thrive, and the serious efforts that must already be made to overcome pests and natural weather variations -- shows that imagined increases in crop production are only that.

    The same applies to fanciful thoughts that "warming" will mean fewer winter deaths and cheaper winter heating bills. Canada will continue to have only 8 hours of very low incidence sunlight in the winter. It's still going to get darn cold. At the same time, if buildings are constructed and insulated to protect against cold, not heat, but summer temperatures skyrocket by 5˚C or 10˚C, then that represents a problem.

    The bottom line is that a lot of factors are going to change: winter temps, daytime temps, humidity, weather patterns, precipitation patterns, floods, droughts, sea levels, dangerous pests, etc.

    And it only takes one of these to muck up the works. So many factors are going to change that it is very, very unlikely that there is any aspect of life or economics that is going to get only benefits and no detriments.

    How do you think the Napa Valley wine growers are going to feel when that is no longer wine country? Or every farmer in Texas when that state is no longer a viable agricultural contributor?

    On top of this, you have to look at the extremes. We are not talking about what has happened to date. What you see now is nothing. We're talking about what is going to happen. That is going to be a lot worse.

    Trying to imagine benefits is, to me, clutching at straws to try to pretend that there is no problem. It's too complicated, and the changes are too varied and too extreme for anyone but a handful of individuals to benefit in the long run.

    Things are going to change. Change is expensive. Change requires adaptation. New building techniques, new equipment, new insulation, new air conditioners, new behavioral habits, etc., etc. Even "good" change is expensive. Every change requires some degree of adaptation, which requires effort above and beyond what we need to expend today.

    You see a lack of balance because benefits aren't included. I see a lack of true appreciation of how complicated and nasty things are ultimately going to get when I hear such complaints.
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  19. Today's NY Times has a multi-page spread (starting on p. 1) about forest loss. Apparently warmer temps mean the pine bark beetle and other pests thrive. It's not specific to Canada, but the Great White North does have a rather large forest products industry.


    -- source
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    Moderator Response: [John Hartz] In this particular instance, "today" is Saturday, October 1 in the US. The time stamp for all posts is Australian.
  20. “As the climate has warmed, various beetle species have marauded across the landscape, from Arizona to Alaska. The situation is worst in British Columbia, which has lost millions of trees across an area the size of Wisconsin.

    “The species Dr. Six was pointing out, the mountain pine beetle, has pushed farther north into Canada than ever recorded. The beetles have jumped the Rocky Mountains into Alberta, and fears are rising that they could spread across the continent as temperatures rise in coming decades. Standing on a mountain plateau south of Missoula, Dr. Six and Dr. Running pointed to the devastation the beetles had wrought in the forest around them, consisting of a high-elevation species called whitebark pine.”

    Source: “With Deaths of Forests, a Loss of Key Climate Protectors,” New York Times, Oct 1, 2011

    To access this in-depth article, click here
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  21. It's a double whammy, per Kurz et al 2008, as:

    the resulting widespread tree mortality reduces forest carbon uptake and increases future emissions from the decay of killed trees.

    This impact converted the forest from a small net carbon sink to a large net carbon source both during and immediately after the outbreak. In the worst year, the impacts resulting from the beetle outbreak in British Columbia were equivalent to ~75% of the average annual direct forest fire emissions from all of Canada during 1959–1999. ... Climate change has contributed to the unprecedented extent and severity of this outbreak.


    For a 2006 MODIS image, see earthobservatory.
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  22. Jonathon@15
    "...Discussing only the negatives, without acknowledging the positives is akin to a corporation reporting revenues only, and omitting costs."
    Which they do when the costs are completely external.
    When gas was made from coal, the gasworks polluted the ground beneath to a significant depth. The cost of cleaning up the toxins does not appear in the historic financial records.
    There are many ways of damaging the environment which are not illegal, which means that many external environmental costs are not accounted for in company ledgers.
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  23. Sphaerica (18): Actually, I'm with you on all those points, and I appreciate your thoughtful reply. I do quite a bit of work modelling nonlinear systems and believe that I have a good feel (well, at least much much better than average feeling!) for the level of complexity we are facing. I'm definitely not grasping for "positive" straws to cling to.

    However I'd like to nudge us back to the presentation of the report - both in the media and here on the Sks site - and whether it looks foolish to those who really need to understand it and change their minds. Many people don't have the time to digest all the complexities and referenced reports in an article. The article gets a lot of attention based the huge costs but leaves itself open to easy criticism. It may be right, but if it *looks* foolish or is easy to make fun of, we've done something wrong.

    Moderator [John Hartz]: Sorry, but I stand by my comments above - without reading the report.
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  24. It appears that there is a misunderstanding among some posters as to the climate of the land known affectionately as the "Great White North." First off, most of us who live north of the 45th parallel do not have air conditioning. We do not need it. Consequently, any increase in summertime temperatures will only marginally affect cooling costs (fans are cheap). On the opposite side, increased wintertime temperatures will gretly affect heating bills. Since the recent warming has resulted largely from warmer nights and milder winters and is projected to continue to do so, any allusion to greater energy costs is ill-informed.

    Also, any comparison to agriculture in Texas or California is ridiculous. The Canadian wine industry will not be hampered severely by changes in the climate. The few Ontarian growers might actually experienced a boom. While the precipitation increase has been nice for farmers, and added atmospheric CO2 did no harm to the plants wither, the greatest influence was that of a longer growing season. An additional two weeks (or more in some places) greatly increases a relatively short summer. While Spring occurs for many of you on March 21, we are lucky if spring occurs as early as April. Also, color season has already peaed here, and most farmers are preparing for winter (we have already had a good frost and freeze).

    You may choose to refuse to admit that these changes have occurred, but that does not hide the facts that they have. There is no grasp for positives here, simply stating the truth. But remember, what happens up north may not necessarily be the same as what happens down south. What would be foolish, is to think that it does.
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    Response:

    [DB] "First off, most of us who live north of the 45th parallel do not have air conditioning.  We do not need it."

    First of all, those of us who do live north of the 45th parallel (since you don't) do have occasional need of air conditioning.  Do not presume to speak for a set of population to which you do not belong.

    "any allusion to greater energy costs is ill-informed"

    Again you prosecute your long-standing policy of making unsupported allegations as you routinely did in your first iteration here as Eric the Red.  Please change that policy or cease doing so.  Last warning on this issue.

    "The Canadian wine industry will not be hampered severely by changes in the climate."

    IBID.

    "color season has already peaed here"

    Here in this part of the North, color is at peak right now & will remain so for about 1 more week before ebbing.  Note that this is about 2 weeks after normal peak.

    "You may choose to refuse to admit that these changes have occurred, but that does not hide the facts that they have. There is no grasp for positives here, simply stating the truth."

    Actually, the refusal plainly evident is on your part.  You have historically prosecuted an unsupported agenda here of "It's not happening", "It's not us" and "It's not bad", with the continual hand-waving emphasis on the unsupported.

    Your future participation in this Forum is dependant upon a behavioral change on your part.  The choice is yours.

  25. Well Jonathon, you are on your own with your air-conditioning statements. Having lived in several cities in eastern and western Canada, I can assure you that summertime electricity demands are a big deal for ~3 months of the year, particularly in highly populated southern Ontario and Quebec. For example, please see the actual record consumption values and forecasts published by the Independent Electricity System Operator. Now granted, most of those people are technically south of the 45th parallel, but I'm sure you weren't trying to mislead anyone by omitting roughly 1/3 of the Canadian population. (Here is a place to start if you want to improve on that estimate.)

    You make some intuitively appealing claims around winter heating costs and the wine industry - so how about some references? Then we can compare them to the costs in the report that should be the topic of this discussion.
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  26. Ianw01,

    I am sure that metropolitan areas like Toronto have greater cooling demands than those of us further north. I have been to southern Ontario in the summertime, and it can get hot (not Texas hot, but hot for up here). Any increase in summertime temperatures will lead to increased electricity demand and bills during that time. However, compare those costs to the wintertime heating bills. I can also assure that the summer does not last a full three months, while the winter can drag on much longer. A simple check would to compare your AC bills with your gas bills. The Ontario Ministry of Energy published this comparison several years ago, and it shows typical costs for heating and cooling. Natural gas is most common in southern Ontario, and the average homeowner spends about 10x in heating compared to cooling.

    http://www.mei.gov.on.ca/en/energy/conservation/?page=heating-and-cooling-your-home_chapter-13

    The NRT report did not include the costs of heating, but only cooling, which was my original beef. Would you not agree that omitting 90% of the costs is somewhat misleading? Consider the savings if the largest temperature rises continue to occur during nighttime lows and wintertime compared to summer highs - and this is only Ontario.

    As mentioned in an earlier post, the wine industry was a spoof on the comparison to Napa Valley, CA.
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  27. Jonathon:

    What part of 'global' in AGW are you missing?

    Are Bangladesh, the Netherlands, the southern US, tropical countries world-wide, small Pacific islands, the Amazon basin, and the Arctic ice cap so insignificant that Ontarians should encourage global climate change to save some money on their heating bills?

    Also, given the wide range and scope of impacts (e.g. the destruction of pine forests as noted upthread, or the ongoing glacier melt and Arctic impacts), focusing on heating bills strikes me as a carefully-chosen cherry-pick.
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  28. Composer99

    Except for the Arctic ice cap, none of those places are within provinces or territories of Canada. Therefore, why should they have been included in a report about Canada? I do
    not believe that anyone here was encouraging climate change. Even those posters who suspect that Canada will benefit financial are not espousing climate change.

    The report was carefully cherry-picked to only include those items which produced the desired outcome. If you think that heating bills will not be affected, you may want to think again. Focusing on only the cooling side of energy bills is akin to presenting data that the Antarctic peninsula has lost ice, therefore all of Antarctic is melting, or that Tuvalu has gained area, therefore all pacific islands are growing. Do you see the problem with focusing on a relatively small fraction of the whole?
    0 0
    Moderator Response: [John Hartz] The analyses summarized in this report were by design focused on the potential costs of climate change to Canada. If that gives you heartburn, so be it.
  29. John,

    I have no problem with the report focusing on Canada. Others seem to be objecting that the costs and benefits are not seen in a global light. But as you say, the focus was designed to be solely about Canada.
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  30. Jonathon:

    It was your reaction to the report, rather than the report itself, which I found to be of interest in this comment thread. I have no problem with a report produced for Canadian policy-makers which focuses on Canada. I would have a problem if the policy-makers only review the Canadian situation.

    You seem to be concerned that Canadians are getting a false impression about AGW from the NRT report. Based on your comments thus far, am I correct in guessing that you conclude that the benefits from AGW for Canada would outweigh the costs for Canada? A simple yes or no response will do.

    If yes, my question is:

    Even if it is the case that Canadians would stand to benefit materially from AGW for a number of decades, whether Canadians (or any subset of Canadians) should ignore the overwhelmingly negative implications of AGW elsewhere when making policy.
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  31. Composer,

    Albatross (#5) mentioned that an earlier report concluded that the pros are probably going to outweigh the cons. This recent report, while acknowledging that there are pros, only mentions them briefly, completely excludes them from their calculations. I cannot say if the pros will outweigh the cons, but to completely omit them yields a false impression.
    0 0
    Moderator Response: [John Hartz} You missed the point of my prior moderator comment. By design, the analyses contained in the report were focused on the costs of climate change to Canadians. It was not intended to be a cost-benefit analysis. The report is what it is.
  32. Jonathan @ 26: The NRT report did not include the costs of heating, but only cooling, which was my original beef. Would you not agree that omitting 90% of the costs is somewhat misleading?


    It isn't the absolute cost, it's the change in costs. Will the heating bill drop more than the cooling bill rises?

    Jonathan @ 24: First off, most of us who live north of the 45th parallel do not have air conditioning. We do not need it.


    ...and how much will it cost to install when you do end up needing it?

    Here is a story from CBC news in 2007, about Regina area hospitals needing to shut down elective surgeries because the cooling systems could not cope with the high heat and humidity. The cost of the heat wave is not simply measured by the use of extra electricity to run the AC a little more. Usually when Regina (or elsewhere in the western Canadian prairies) gets hot, it's dry. The unusual conditions of high temperature and high humidity was leading to increased risks of infections in surgery.

    Brutal heat, humidity wreaking havoc at hospitals

    How much do you think it costs to upgrade a hospital's heating/cooling system?
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  33. Bob,

    That is one of the unanswered questions. With projected temperatures to rise more in the winter than summer, the savings would likely outweigh the costs (a 10% savings in winter equals a doubling in summer).

    The link to the Regina hospitasl is broken, and apparently did not come close to any of the records.

    http://www.currentresults.com/Weather-Extremes/Canada/hottest.php

    I do not know the costs of upgrading either a heating or cooling system for a hospital or any other business. Another reason why this report contains too little information.
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  34. Jonathan@33: the savings would likely outweigh the costs (a 10% savings in winter equals a doubling in summer).


    An unsupported assertion. After using misleading absolute costs, instead of changes in costs, you now are using percentages of those absolute costs, which is also misleading.

    Let's say I spend $700/year on heating, and $70/year on cooling. I save 10% on heating, or $70. I double my cooling costs, and I've spent the $70 again. That's a break-even example (and probably a realistic ballpark estimate). The "10%" or "doubling" comparison is irrelevant. And that's just operating costs on an existing system, not modifications to add capacity.

    The link in my comment 32 appears to have an extra "/" at the end. Try this:

    Brutal heat, humidity wreaking havoc at hospitals

    No, it wasn't a record temperature. It was a prolonged period of near-record temperatures, but the important point is that those high temperatures were accompanied by high humidity, which is unusual for the region:

    Heat Waves is a link to a SaskAdapt web site with an article on adapting to changing climate conditions. It includes a discussion of the 2007 events and adaptations required by the hospitals.

    I do not know the costs of upgrading either a heating or cooling system for a hospital.


    Apparently Regina-Qu'Appelle Health Region does: $3.7 million. That's for two hospitals, but I have no idea if the modifications are designed to handle just the 2007 conditions, or whether they've planned in advance to deal with continued increases in heat and humidity in the future. (Note that the $3.7 million figure also includes some non-HVAC operating room changes, but the list of upgrades is in the press release, and most of it is in the HVAC systems.)

    News Releases: Improvements to Heating, Ventilation and Air Cooling Systems, Regina General Hospital and Pasqua Hospital, June 24, 2008
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  35. Bob,

    Yes, that would be a break-even scenario. It shows the relative reliance on the different energy sources. I moved from absolute costs to changes in costs just for your benefit, but you still think they are misleading.

    The new link worked. It appears that the AC failed due to overuse based on the severe conditions. Future costs to upgrading HVAC systems (both furnaces and air conditioning units fail over time) do not appear in the report, and would definitely influence the total costs.
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  36. Jonathan@35: I moved from absolute costs to changes in costs just for your benefit, but you still think they are misleading.


    What was misleading was expressing them as percentages. I can't know what you intended to portray, but expressing it as a 10% drop in heating costs and a doubling (i.e. 100% increase) of cooling costs does not make it clear which change is larger in simple dollars. Taking two numbers and dividing them by two different denominators before comparing them is not useful. It's the numerators that give a clear picture.

    Is there a reason why you thought that percentages was a better measurement? The way you originally wrote it, it looks like it would take a huge (100%) increase in cooling costs to offset a small (10%) savings in heating costs. "Huge" and "small" in this context cannot be compared, as they have different baselines. When you go to actual dollars, the equivalency is crystal clear.
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  37. OK Bob,

    Since the average Canadian spends 90% annually on heating costs, and 10% on colling, lets arbitrarily assign $900 to heating and $100 to cooling. Let us say that this winter will be milder than average, such that the average Canadian saves 10% on heating; that equates to $90. Let us also suppose that the summer is hotter, and he spends that same $90 on cooling. The 10% wintertime decrease equals a 90% (almost double) summertime increase.

    Clear?
    0 0
    Moderator Response: [John Hartz] What is the source of your assertion that "the average Canadian spends 90% annually on heating costs, and 10% on cooling"?
  38. Jonathon@37: Clear?


    The part that isn't clear is why you keep putting percentages in. To me, they are misleading. Although saying "saves 10% on heating" may be convenient in your mind, the issue is "saves $90". Likewise "90% summertime increase" doesn't mean a lot, but "pays $90 more" is. The part that needs communicating is the -$90/+$90, and putting percentages in does not help.

    Let's take your numbers, and vary them slightly. The person next door likes a slightly warmer house (winter and summer), and spends $950 on heating, and $50 on cooling. The same shift in climate reduces heating costs and increases cooling costs by $90 each way. If focused on percentages, this new homeowner is only saving 9.5% in heating costs, but her cooling costs have gone up by 180%, almost tripling! Compared to the first homeowner, this person doesn't save as much on heating, and is looking at skyrocketing costs for cooling, if you are looking at the percentage change in each. Yet each person's bank manager sees an identical change in payments to utility companies.

    ...and let's think of a third neighbour, who really likes a warm house. Spends $1000 on heating, and doesn't run the AC (although it is installed). Climate warms up. Spends $90 less on heating - saves only 9%. Turns on AC and spends $90 running it. What is the percent increase in this person's cooling costs? OMG! Small increases in temperature lead to infinitely large increases in cooling costs! Off the scale! What a catastrophe!

    So, I repeat my question from before: is there a reason why you thought that percentages was a better measurement? There are times where percentages are useful, but I don't think this is one of them.


    P.S. to John Hartz. Jonathon did refer to an Ontario Ministry of Energy comaprison in #26, but didn't give a link. The 9:1 ratio is probably not unreasonable, although the $900:$100 costs are higher than I pay to heat/cool a house in the (cold) prairies. But, these $ numbers are arbitrary, as Jonathon said. And, more importantly, they are irrelevant. Even if it were 1:9, so that $100 was spent on heating, and $900 on cooling, if a warmer climate reduces heating costs and increases warming costs, it is the absolute changes that matter (-$90/+$90), not the original values, the ratio of the original values, or the percentage of the original values.
    0 0
    Moderator Response: I'd still like to see the source of Jonathan's statement. I find it hard to believe that the measure is per person rather than per household.
  39. Bob,

    I only used percentage because I thought that was what you wanted when you requested change in costs. In my last post, I used dollar values for change in costs, but you still say that is not clear. I can think of all sorts of individual scenarios, whereby some people will be spending more or less than others (and hence will have different percentage changes). That is why I used an average value.

    Isn't that the ultimate question, will the average Canadian be spending more or less on energy in a warmer world?

    John,

    Bob mentioned in his last post that the numbers came from the Ontario Ministry on Energy as referenced in #26. Other publications use the same 90:10 ratio.
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    Moderator Response: [John Hartz] Is the percentage per person or per household?
  40. Jonathon:

    I can see how you would read that into it (wanting change in costs as percent), but my brain doesn't look at my bank balance and think in %, I think in $. You appear to be mis-reading what I've said about things being misleading: the dollar values are clear, but keeping the % part in just adds confusion. I explicitly said that at the start of comment 38: "The part that isn't clear is why you keep putting percentages in."

    Your scenario of different people spending different amounts and having different percentage changes is why using percentages in this case causes problems. When you ask the question of whether the average Canadian is spending more or less on energy in a warmer world, those people will be spending dollars, not percent.

    Re: moderators comment. Jonathon's 90%/10% heating/cooling costs ratio doesn't even explicitly say "% of what?". I think we can safely assume that he means "% of total heating/cooling costs", as that would be a difficult phrase to interpret otherwise. I assume that you are questioning Jonathon's dollar values ($900/$100), and those would certainly be too high on a per person basis, but are more reasonable on a per household basis. Even so, I think Jonathon just took those as easy numbers to work with, not an indication of real average household costs. They might actually be right in a ballpark-ish sort of way (per household), but I expect that would be a coincidence.

    Still, if Jonathon has a link to the report he has mentioned, it would be polite to provide it.
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  41. Here is the report again:

    http://www.mei.gov.on.ca/en/energy/conservation/?page=heating-and-cooling-your-home_chapter-13

    Whether one lives in a small townhouse or large detached house, the energy costs are proportionally; the average resident spends about nine times more on heating than cooling when using natural gas (the most popular). Different energy sources result in different costs as propane, oil, and electricity result in higher heating costs, while wood-burning stoves and Earth energy systems costs less.

    Do not get hung up on the $900/$100 scenario. As I said previously, it was arbitrary. Bottom line: heating is a significantly higher expense than cooling.
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  42. It would be nice if there was a point to all this, Jonathon.

    Is your point that Canadians in general or Ontarians in specific ought to advocate against taking action to mitigate (or even reverse) CO2 emissions in order to save a few dollars on heating (on account of savings in heating potentially outweighing increases in cooling)?

    Because if it isn't, then I put it to you that you are wasting your time arguing it and everyone else's time reading your posts.
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  43. Composer99,

    See post #2.
    0 0
  44. Yes, I have seen comment #2.

    There was a subsequent reply indicating that the NRT report under discussion was part of a larger series.

    In addition, I now see that the rest of the NRT reports are linked to in the OP.

    So is your objection that the OP is still cherry-picking? I expect this objection has been addressed with the additional links.
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