Communities in BC are already facing the impacts of a changing climate

Climate change is not a future problem – the impacts of rising temperatures and changing precipitation patterns are affecting communities in BC today in our personal health, sense of security, our economy and the environment we live in. We know from our lived experiences and from climate modelling that climate change will bring extreme temperatures, severe storms, rising sea levels, heavy precipitation, flooding, droughts, wildfires, and other climate challenges.

Indigenous communities have been disproportionately impacted by climate change, as they are witnessing the immediate impacts on their territories, traditional foods, medicines and ways of living. Indigenous Peoples have been adapting to changing climates and conditions for countless generations, and Indigenous knowledge systems will have a critical role in ensuring the sustainability of our ecological systems.

The existing social inequities in B.C are exacerbated by climate change, so work on climate change resilience must consider an intersectional equity lens. People who experience poverty, racial or social inequality, and/or are impacted by colonialism and systemic racism are often affected more strongly by the impacts of a changing climate. Low-income or racialized populations in both urban and rural regions may have less resources to adjust to changing climatic conditions or respond to extreme events, such as the ability to invest in an air conditioner during heatwaves or repair their homes after a flood, and may also have higher rates of adverse health conditions. Therefore, it is critical to build climate change responses that address systemic inequalities.

Overall, there are multiple facets of our social fabric, economy and ecosystems that are at risk of disruption from climate change. What is at risk includes:

  • Indigenous and non-indigenous communities and neighbourhoods, especially those in disaster-prone areas, and rural or remote communities and low-income neighbourhoods with less resources. Public security and service delivery will be impacted.
  • Physical and mental health, particularly for those who may be more at risk such as low-income groups, elders, persons with disabilities and those with medical conditions.
  • Environmental health (air, water, land) and impacts on biodiversity from changes in species ranges and habitat.
  • Critical infrastructure (communications, utilities, fuel and water) as well as transportation routes and systems.
  • Industrial operations, such as mining, forestry, fisheries, energy and agriculture. Changes in crop yields will particularly impact agriculture and food systems.
  • Tourism sector and small and medium-size businesses.

To learn more about the impacts of climate change on a particular sector, you can dive deeper into our Key Adaptation Topics.

Climate change will impact regions in BC differently, and the consideration of local and regional contexts for climate resilience planning and preparedness is crucial. See our page on Regional Projections & Impacts to learn more about regional differences in our province.