Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on
Agriculture and Forestry
Issue 5 - Evidence
OTTAWA, Thursday, December 12, 2002
The Standing Senate Committee on Agriculture and Forestry met this day at 10 a.m. to examine the impact of
climate change on Canada's agriculture, forests and rural communities and the potential adaptation options focusing
on primary production, practices, technologies, ecosystems and other related areas.
Senator Donald H. Oliver (Chairman) in the Chair
The Chairman: Welcome, I call the sixth meeting of the Standing Senate Committee on Agriculture and Forestry of
this mandate to order.
During the course of its last study, which led to the report called ``Canadian Farmers at Risk,'' this committee found
environmental stresses to be a pressing issue for agriculture and rural Canada. We decided, therefore, to undertake a
comprehensive study on the effects of climate change in agriculture. The committee will examine the expected effects of
climate change on Canadian agriculture, forests and rural communities, and more important for the short-run, will
consider how these sectors can adapt to the expected climate change. Adaptation is one of the key things that we will
look at. The committee is required to report no later than the end of 2003.
Today we are continuing our study on climate change. I would first like to welcome the senators and all the
observers who are here today, as well as all the Canadians who are listening to us on CPAC and the Internet.
We will continue our focus on the regional impact of climate change and how each area is adapting to their new
reality. Today we have invited representatives from the Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation Research Network:
Mr. Peter Duinker from the Atlantic Region and Mr. Alain Bourque from the Quebec Region. The network is a
national grouping that facilitates the generation of new climate change knowledge by bringing researchers together
with decision makers from industry, governments and non-governmental organizations to address key issues.
I wish to advise members of the committee that we were scheduled to hear witnesses from the Prairies and British
Columbia last Tuesday but that had to be cancelled. We will hear their testimony sometime in the New Year.
Mr. Duinker, please proceed.
Mr. Peter N. Duinker, Manager, Atlantic Region, Canadian Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation Research
Network: Thank you for your kind introduction, Mr. Chairman. You and I could have a wonderful, long discussion
about the best part of Canada, could we not? I want to thank the Senate committee for their kind invitation to appear
here before you to discuss this most important matter.
I make reference to the speaking notes that I have made available. These were prepared by my very able assistant at
C-CIARN Atlantic, Mr. Kyle Mackenzie, office coordinator. I have drawn my remarks from this set of notes.
I will address five topics that I would like to bring to your attention as we discuss impacts and adaptation in relation
to Atlantic Canada. The first topic is the uniqueness of Atlantic Canada as a region in relation to the rest of Canada. I
want to talk about three themes in impacts and adaptation. One is the Atlantic coast, the second is agriculture, and the
third is forests and forestry. My final topic will be addressing concepts of adaptation awareness, capacity-building and
Perhaps I should say a word about my credentials to speak on these matters. I put them in order of increasing
comfort when it comes to the coasts, agriculture, forests and forestry. The only credential I have with respect to the
Atlantic coasts is that I live in an Atlantic coastal community. With respect to the farms and agriculture, I grew up on
Ontario farms and studied agriculture at the University of Guelph in the 1970s. I also spent six months as a young man
on a farm in Saskatchewan. I feel that I have an intuition with respect to agriculture. I remember a bit of what I studied
back in the 1970s.
I have a graduate degrees from Dalhousie University and the University of New Brunswick in forestry. I fought
forest fires in Ontario in the mid-1970s, and for the last 15 years I have been engaged in research and teaching about
forests. After I finished my Ph.D., I spent two years at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis in
Vienna, Austria. I then spent 10 years teaching at Lakehead University in the Faculty of Forestry, and now I am at
Dalhousie University where I am Director of the School for Resource and Environmental Studies. I have been
interested in the topic of climate change and forests since 1987, when I was working at the institute in Vienna.
I must say that I was happy to witness the birth of C-CIARN and activities such as these hearings for a couple of
reasons. The first reason is that, in my view, impact and adaptation themes have been overwhelmingly ignored over the
past 20 years, which is about as long as I have been listening to and telling stories about climate change. The second
reason is that Kyoto is taking all or most of the air time and, at best, it will only be a delay in the adaptation
requirement, and not a very long delay at that. The Kyoto Protocol will not substantially reduce or change the
requirement for adaptation. It is high time that we moved ahead on this topic of impacts and adaptation. Your work
and our work at C-CIARN are vital parts of that agenda.
I will go now to the uniqueness of Atlantic Canada. I am sure I will not need a map for honourable senators to
understand how the provinces of Atlantic Canada lie within the geography of North America. Physically, Atlantic
Canada is comprised of the four smallest provinces in Canada, and is highly influenced by the ocean. Three of the four
provinces are, essentially, islands. We have Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Nova Scotia, which may as well
be an island when it comes to considerations of bio-geography. We have no land to the south. If you go straight south
from Halifax, you end up close to Bermuda, and then South America is your next port of call due south after that.
When we think about climate change, that southern climates may come north, we realize that there is no land south of
the Atlantic Region — it is all ocean.
Concerning the uniqueness of Atlantic Canada, the region has the highest proportion of provincial land base in
forest cover. New Brunswick is the highest at close to 90 per cent; Nova Scotia's is close to 80 per cent; and, can you
believe it, Prince Edward Island is 50 per cent forested. I find that hard to believe, too, because when I go to Prince
Edward Island, I see many farms, golf courses and beaches. However, it is 50 per cent forested. As well, Atlantic
Canada has the longest history of influence of European settlement in the country.
The first theme with respect to impacts and adaptation is coasts. We have a very long coastline in Atlantic Canada
compared to our land area, and Nova Scotia especially so. I was amused to learn that when the Atlantic Coastal
Action Program began 10 years ago, there was debate in Nova Scotia about which communities were coastal and
which were not coastal. The debate ended with a declaration that all communities in Nova Scotia were coastal, no
matter where they sat in relation to the shoreline.
The potential impacts of sea level rise on coastal areas are serious. Much of that coastline is indeed sensitive to rises
in sea level. In many areas we have a low-rising shore that means a small rise in sea level affects a large portion of
shorelines. Many shorelines have soft materials; it is not all bedrock running into the ocean. We have a large amount of
infrastructure along that coastline.
What are some of the potential impacts? Erosion and flooding are serious concerns, and the loss of coastal wetlands.
It only became clear to me after studying with many oceanographic people at Dalhousie University how important
coastal wetlands are in the overall energy and biodiversity situations in ocean ecosystems. We are also concerned about
potential saltwater intrusion into freshwater ecosystems. We are concerned about damaged or useless coastal
infrastructure if the ocean comes up by one-half to one metre. Another issue for the Atlantic provinces, which connects
to the agricultural theme, is the potential loss of farmland in reclaimed areas, particularly around the Bay of Fundy
where some centuries ago land was reclaimed, keeping the high tides from the rich river farmland areas.
Adaptations probably have mostly to do with engineering. We will probably need to move or fortify some of the
infrastructure that we have on the coast. We must also think carefully about how we build new infrastructure along the
coast, and we must do so with climate change in mind. I will return to that theme when we talk about forests. We
expect bigger storms in Atlantic Canada, due to climate change. Perhaps the rainfall will come in more intense bursts.
We might expect more soil erosion.
I already mentioned the losses of coastal, diked farmlands. We will certainly expect changed patterns of insects and
diseases that are associated with farm crops. There will be new crop opportunities. Before this hearing began, we were
discussing a little bit as to whether our fledgling wine industry in Nova Scotia could be dramatically boosted with a
warmer and dryer climate. Many of us would welcome that.
The Chairman: Senator Cordy would be very happy to hear that.
Senator LaPierre: The rest of us may not be. It all depends on the quality of the wine.
Mr. Duinker: It is improving.
Senator LaPierre: Thank you. The scotch is good.
Mr. Duinker: Water issues will be most serious in relation to agriculture. The irrigation expectations of farmers may
Let me make a short reference to King's County. I believe that one or more of you may have some association with
King's County in Nova Scotia, which is our premier agricultural province. Note also that it is one of three areas in
Nova Scotia with a rising population. Halifax regional municipality is growing. Antigonish is growing, and King's
County is growing rapidly. The urban population is growing. It is a key agricultural county. We already know that
there are water problems associated with domestic wells, which have high nitrate concentrations. Water management
will be a big issue in these rural and semi-rural communities. Agriculture will incur some big questions. First, how
much of the precious fresh water can be allocated to agricultural use? Second, how much pollution can be tolerated
from agricultural ecosystems into the fresh water supplies?
Adaptations in Atlantic Canada agriculture may be the same as adaptations due to agricultural problems elsewhere.
Crop changes may need to be considered. They may not be as difficult in agriculture as they might be in the forest
sector because of the length of time between establishing a crop and harvesting it. Conservation tillage will become
more important. In agriculture, we must become much more sophisticated with our nutrient management, which links
tightly with the way water flows in and out of agricultural ecosystems as well.
My final theme is the impacts and adaptation in the forest. What are some of the impact possibilities there? You
know only too well what extreme weather events mean to forests in this part of Canada, from your experience of the
huge ice storm in the winter of 1998, I believe. Storms and droughts will become more frequent. Insect, disease and fire
patterns might be dramatically changed. We really do not have what I would call a fire-driven forest in Atlantic
Canada, in the way in which we have in central and Western Canada, but it will become more fire-driven should the
climate lead us to a dryer pattern.
Changes in the thaw and freeze patterns can have serious effects on trees not used to this. Serious thaw and freeze
patterns come and go. Forest ecosystems in Canada will become confused. We will have the same soils and the same
tree species but a new climate. The climate, trees and soil all across Canada have had thousands of years to become
accustomed to each other, with a relatively stable climate in the last several thousand years. All of a sudden, the climate
will march off. It will take some ecological adjustment before the forests figure out what it means to exist under a new
climate. Unfortunately, the kinds of changes that will undoubtedly occur are incredibly difficult to predict. We have a
hard enough time making predictions for the future of forests without a changing climate. The changing climate will
complicate the matter. The adjustment period while the forests are confused could be characterized by a considerable
amount of forest decline. There could be premature death of trees that cannot withstand the ravages of the new
Concerning wildlife adaptation, I will make specific reference to moose in Nova Scotia. We have two populations of
moose in Nova Scotia. One population is in the Cape Breton highlands, which comes from Alberta stock and is doing
quite well with 4,000 or 5,000 animals. On the mainland, we have indigenous stock of maybe 800 to 1,000 animals.
Moose are at the southernmost edge of their range in North America in Nova Scotia.
Moose are known to not be able to tolerate warm summers. They seek shelter from the heat. My suspicion is that in
the next 100 years we will witness the disappearance of moose from mainland Nova Scotia. That calls into question any
program that would try to conserve moose in mainland Nova Scotia, which is a subject of intense debate in Nova
Scotia at this time because moose are one of our species at risk. Should we be spending a lot of effort finding out how
to conserve moose in a habitat that will not be compatible with moose in the next 50 to 100 years? That is big question
Regarding adaptations, we can do some things in general categories that are roughly the same as what others might
consider in Canada. We should maintain tree species and age diversity in our forest stands. We might even consider
species introductions. If we will have a climate that is more like elsewhere in North America, particularly the south.
Perhaps we ought to be fostering those species to become established in Nova Scotia in advance of the changing
climate. At a very practical level, forest managers will need to consider planting large, hearty, drought resistant stock,
instead of small and non-hybrid seedlings.
Perhaps the most important point that I would like to make about adaptation in the forest sector is that we must
become sophisticated, as the farmers will. We must become sophisticated about considering climate change in our long
term projections in management plans for forests. On all public lands managed industrially for timber and for most
large private industrial forests, the forest managers create a management plan every five to 10 years that will apply for
the next 20 years or so. They make projections about what they expect will happen, and what the forest will look like
for the next 100 to 150 years. In work that I have been doing with one company in Alberta, projections were made for a
My firm belief is that every projection of that nature that does not account for a changing climate in some way is an
account of fiction, because we feel confident that the climate will change. There is great uncertainty about how it will
change, but there is great confidence that it will change. It is time that we got serious about building climate change
into projections to check the long term sustainability of the management paths on which we put ourselves in the next
Let me move to the final topic, which is impacts and adaptation needs in Atlantic Canada. There is a desperate need
for raised awareness of the concepts of impacts and adaptation. The gravity of the issue is important to convey.
Climate change is inevitable despite the Kyoto Protocol. We would not want anyone to think that we can reduce the
impact of climate change because we are implementing Kyoto.
The third major element of raised awareness is the profound uncertainty we have about what all this means and the
struggle we will go through in creating new knowledge. We have several problems in addressing the issue of raised
awareness. One is that Kyoto overwhelms. I was with a senior forest policymaker in a meeting recently. As a group, we
were being asked what we thought the key forest issues were. My last issue, as most people who know me were able to
predict, was climate change. As soon as those words came out of my mouth, the senior forest policymaker said, ``Oh,
the 'K' word again.'' I said, ``No, it is the `I' and `A' words we want to talk about, impacts and adaptation.'' Climate
change for so many people means Kyoto. We have a lot of work to do to make sure it means impacts and adaptation.
Another problem is that everyone wants public awareness raised for every issue. There is a huge agenda out there
about raising public awareness. We have to find a way to get in, cut through and ensure that impacts and adaptation
are seriously considered.
Another key problem with impacts and adaptation is that we have a lack of historical analogues and experiences.
Do we have problems in the health care sector? Sure we do, and we know what they are because people go to hospitals
and cannot get treatment. Do we have problems with the climate sector? No one has yet felt the big problems that we
are talking about that will materialize over the next hundred years. We are talking about a future that we have a hard
time imagining. If you have that problem, it is very difficult to raise this issue on people's immediate agendas. Couple
that with the complexity of these impacts and adaptation themes and we have a lot of work to do.
I will close by talking about increases in knowledge. Given our incredible uncertainties, we have a huge need for
incisive knowledge, and I would suggest that the way in which we get it is through research capacity building. We have
a desperate need for that new knowledge. It needs to be future-oriented. Who will create it? I suggest we need to invest
directly in new human resources at universities, and I suggest it be done in the following way: Perhaps we could try to
establish, at minimum, one funded research chair in each of the six C-CIARN regions of Canada. We have five regions
from B.C. to the Atlantic, and the north. A funded research chair is a special position where a new professor has a low
teaching load and a high research obligation. A funded research chair, at minimum, could cost about $200,000 per
year. If you had six new ones, it would cost $1.2 million per year. In my view, given the gravity of the situation with
respect to impacts and adaptation in Canada, that is a pretty small investment.
What would we call them? That is where my new acronym comes in. We are talking about C-CIARN; these would
be C-CIARC, Canadian Climate Impacts and Adaptation Research Chairs.
The second theme here is to establish graduate student research awards. Clearly, the chair-holders would be
financing students to work with them, but we already have a capacity among professors across Canada to engage in
impacts and adaptation research. If I take myself as any indication, I already have a full agenda. Can I make room for
new work and write new proposals to go into impacts and adaptation? Why not put the onus on the young people and
get graduate students taking the leadership role under the supervision of professors and apply for awards that will
support them in doing research on climate change impacts and adaptation? What would that cost? I think a graduate
student can be supported for roughly in the neighbourhood of $20,000 to $25,000 per year. That would cover the
research stipend and some operating expenses. If we could get $100,000 per region of C-CIARN, times six, that is
$600,000. That would support four or five graduate students per year, researching impacts and adaptation. The grand
total would be $1.8 million per year, and we would have a phenomenal network and a great amount of activity going
on in the research enterprise on impacts and adaptation.
The Chairman: Thank you very much, Mr. Duinker. Your remarks were most helpful and useful because they
stressed our theme of adaptation. You covered that both in forestry and agriculture, and it is very useful.
We have a second speaker, but a number of senators have to attend other committees, so perhaps we can take 10
minutes to put questions to you, and then we will come to Mr. Bourque.
I will ask one question about funded research. You said that for each of these six centres, you would need
approximately $200,000, but that would only be the amount for operating. You would need to be able to fund the
enterprise. Given the rate of return on investments today, you would need almost $2 million per chair to fund it. Times
six, that is $12 million, so your figures were a bit low, I think. I will let you consider that.
Senator Gustafson: The committee studied farmers at risk and wrote a report on that subject. Do you have an
impact on government with what is happening? As a scientist, do you feel you have an impact? My question arises out
of this situation: We have been waiting for five years for a drought program, for a safety net program, and so on, and it
has not happened. Do you use your abilities and your office to impact governments in these regards?
Mr. Duinker: Yes, I do. Perhaps to my detriment as a university scholar, I spend a lot of my time with industry and
government people talking about the forest policy issues of the day and the directions in which they should be going.
As I indicated in my earlier remarks, people who know me know that whenever I get a chance to talk about the big
forest policies of the day, I will mention climate change.
I have found, though, in the forest sector in which I have almost all of my experience — and I am sorry that I cannot
address agriculture directly — that the sector has been decidedly lethargic about embracing the climate change agenda.
Now that the carbon side of the climate change agenda looks like it might have money attached to it, everyone is all
ears. On impacts and adaptation, it has been very slow. However, I am optimistic to note some progress. For example,
in the last year or two, the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources has established a position and an office specifically
on the climate change front, both the carbon side, the mitigation, and the impacts and adaptation.
On another very happy note, I was having discussions with a couple of Nova Scotia forest ecologists, talking about
how we will get on with the concept of ecosystem management in Nova Scotia's forests. At the end of meeting, each of
the two university professors who were advising these government forest ecologists said, ``It is high time to start talking
climate change seriously,'' and the next day I got an e-mail from one of the forest ecologists, saying, ``You are right.
Help us out. Let us start getting it on.'' It is slow, yes, but people are now taking note.
Senator Cordy: Being from Nova Scotia, I have learned a great deal about Nova Scotia today, so I thank you for the
information today. I will remember that impacts and adaptation are very important.
I wonder about the rise in sea level. Is this a natural cycle, or is it being affected by climate change? As you said
earlier, there is no landmass between Nova Scotia and South America.
Mr. Duinker: I must confess total ignorance. Of course there are natural changes in sea level rise. With respect to any
particular shoreline, now that we are some 10,000 years after the glaciers have moved off, there will be some movement
of the land with respect to the ocean. You can see effective sea level rise. Even if the water level does not change, the
land level may be changing.
There have, of course, been changes in sea level through the long history of the earth. However, I think people feel
fairly confident with the predictions concerning climate change over the next 100 years: that we expect the sea level rise
will largely be due to that forcing of climate change, and its subsequent impacts on the temperature of the ocean water
and glacial melt, et cetera.
Senator Cordy: Nova Scotia is almost an island, apart from the Isthmus of Chignecto. How sensitive will our
coastline be to the rise in sea level?
Mr. Duinker: In Nova Scotia, it will be particularly sensitive, partly because it is such a long coastline, and wavy as it
is. I think we have as much infrastructure built on our coastline as just about any province. We have a particular
abundance of coastal wetlands and lots of beaches. The factors that I mentioned which make coastlines sensitive are
abundant in Nova Scotia.
Senator Cordy: When you think of our Acadian dikes in the Annapolis valley, your scenario is pretty scary.
You spoke about adaptation and fortifying infrastructure along the coast. I was not sure what you meant by
``infrastructure.'' Do you mean seawalls?
Mr. Duinker: I mean lots of transportation infrastructure. We have huge piles of docks and many buildings close to
the coastline. If sea level is higher and storm surges are more serious, we have to think about whether whatever is right
there at the coast will be any good. We have roads that are sitting just about at sea level. If the sea comes up half a
meter, then perhaps that road will no longer be any good. That is what I mean by fortification. The same applies to the
dikes: We may need to raise them up.
Senator Cordy: Your suggestion about research chairs in each area seems like a good one.
Senator Hubley: Your presentation has been most helpful. We are putting together a huge picture here, and every
time we have a presenter we seem to add to our knowledge of the situation.
I am from Prince Edward Island. I want to start by clarifying one of the statements that you made. You said that
there is great uncertainty as to how climate will change, but you are sure that it will. Are we not sure that it is warming?
In other words, is the warming aspect of climate change not now a given?
Mr. Duinker: If we put aside the small amount of uncertainty that is associated with those projections, yes. People
feel comfortable with the projection that the global average temperature, averaged everywhere and over the whole
year, is rising. What will happen in parts of Canada, especially if we consider the west side of Hudson Bay, for instance,
is that we are secure in feeling that it will warm dramatically and be dry in central Canada. In Eastern Canada, from
what I can understand, the signals are not quite so strong. Therefore, the amount of warming we may experience in
Atlantic Canada may be quite a bit less.
Given that there is some uncertainty associated with the projections, we are not sure exactly where we should go
with them. As you may have heard already, the uncertainty associated with precipitation forecasts is much higher than
it is with temperature. Because temperature and precipitation interact in agriculture and forest ecosystems in terms of
how the ecosystems will respond, that leaves us with a very cloudy view of what may happen.
It is because of those uncertainties that C-CIARN has decided to take another approach to this whole business.
Rather than focusing only on making forecasts and seeing what the impacts might be, we are coming at it in a different
way with what we call ``vulnerability assessment.'' That lets you off the hook somewhat with respect to how certain or
uncertain you are with respect to the climate change projection. You can ask a farmer, ``How vulnerable is your
operation to a little increase in temperature?'' If the farmer responds, ``Not at all. I could withstand a really big increase
in temperature,'' then it does not matter nearly how wrong you are with the projection, if the vulnerability is low.
Where the vulnerability is high, however, then we have to focus our research attention on those vulnerabilities.
Senator Hubley: Another new term that I heard this morning was ``nutrient management.'' It was said that we have
to look at better methods of nutrient management. Could you elaborate on that? Was that as a result of too much
waste in terms of runoff? In what context were you suggesting that nutrient management must be something that we
now look at?
Mr. Duinker: There are two sides to that issue. One is natural nutrients from livestock operations and where those
livestock operations are highly concentrated, which seems to be the way of agriculture these days. We have a lot of
material to look after and dispose of.
The second is inorganic fertilizer nutrients. You might ask the question: How many farmers do a soil test every year
on the fields to which they intend to apply fertilizers, whether natural or inorganic? The answer is, not very many.
Often, the experience is that too much is put on, and under, perhaps, the wrong conditions with respect to weather. Is
the right thing to do to spread the manure in the wintertime over the snow, see what happens and hope it ends up in the
soil where it should stay? That is what I mean by becoming sophisticated. We want enough to give us the crop yields we
want, but not an ounce more because that is likely to end up where we do not want it.
Senator Hubley: I have another question on water, which is probably the one thing that will be most difficult for
Prince Edward Island, in particular. We are presently looking at some of the large processing plants we have on Prince
Edward Island which want to put in fairly extensive irrigation systems, of course to ensure the yield and ensure that
they will have a product to process. A longer growing season seems wonderful, but a longer growing season will require
more water to produce those crops.
Is there anything new in irrigation research? This is as a dilemma on Prince Edward Island. We are there now, in
fact. It is not something that any climatic conditions can now change. We really depend on groundwater. If we use too
many pesticides, we will pollute the groundwater, which is something we have experienced in recent times. Heavy
rainfall washes pesticides into streams, which has resulted in fish kills. That seems to compound itself.
On the irrigation issue, is there research taking place presently to look for better ways to capture water?
Mr. Duinker: In general, I am sure the answer is yes. I must profess ignorance here, too. I have not been following
that research agenda to be able to say what is going on.
I am sure there is research in the agricultural engineering community which is looking for better ways to deliver
water so that the water that is delivered to plants is taken up by plants, and so that we do not lavish the water on to the
ecosystems with the result that 90 per cent is not taken up by the plants.
There is also a fair amount of research in crop breeding labs looking at higher water use efficiency plants. That is
certainly happening on the forest side and has been for some time. I do not know enough to be able to answer your
question better than that.
Senator Gustafson: In terms of research and development, for instance, there is a machine that will test the soil as
you go along and apply the right amount of fertilizer, nitrogen, phosphorous or whatever. However, these are costly,
and also seem very slow in terms of getting that into practice.
For instance, when we were in Europe, we found that they were using 400 pounds of nitrogen per acre in many areas
— a tremendous amount. In the West, we are putting on, on average, maybe 120 pounds per acre. It will be most
important to get some research and development on these measures so that we can deal with the excesses of chemicals
that are going into the ground.
Mr. Duinker: On this question about expansion of machines, I would really hope that the engineering community
becomes sophisticated in its work in order to bring to farmers cheap tools that can do a good job. I do not have a direct
example in this case but I recall that the Clean Annapolis River Project, based at Annapolis Royal, put into place a
program of measuring water quality in the river with homemade devices that were as good as the devices that were
commercially made at 10 times the price. It would help if we could unleash the engineering community to become
creative about simple tools that work well, so that farmers do not need to have a researcher come out and operate this
machine to see how it is done.
Senator Gustafson: You raised an important question on research and development about most of the machinery
that has been developed by farmers. They have had a hard time getting any research money. The research money will
not come until John Deere, International Harvester or someone else has stolen the idea, and then they will get the
research money. However, whether the machinery is a rock picker, cultivator, air-seeder or something else, I can point
out to you the people who actually developed the equipment. They are small operators with great ideas but they do not
get the help necessary in research and development.
Mr. Duinker: That is a good point.
Senator Milne: Welcome, Mr. Duinker. Senator Hubley was talking about nutrient management and what will
probably be a need for increased irrigation. I understand that in Prince Edward Island there is already salt intrusion
into the groundwater in many wells. With any kind of increased irrigation whatsoever, there will be more salt intrusion
into the wells. In fact, farmers on P.E.I are probably at their limit right now for irrigation.
Mr. Duinker: The key will be to raise the efficiency of irrigation systems and to find ways to ensure that the delivered
water is actually taken up by the plants and is not lost. One element that was not mentioned in this conversation about
irrigation is that while the lengthening of the growing season may be welcome, if we do not get increased precipitation
with the increased temperature we will have a drier soil environment that will increase the need for irrigation. That
further raises the importance of irrigating properly, and moving towards crops that do not need it.
Senator Milne: That is right. There will also be increased surface evaporation. The Ontario government has just
recently brought in a nutrient management scheme that will be very hard on farmers, particularly on any large
livestock farm. Basically, a farmer will need to own one acre per cow in order to be able to spread the manure. If he
does not own that land, he will need to have legal leases. He cannot just have a neighbourly handshake agreement to
farm his 100 acres for the next 100 years, as has always been done. Now, it will involve lawyers and legal leases
annually. It will be a difficult situation for farmers in Ontario to comply with this scheme.
I have some other questions. You are an expert on forests, which are a major carbon sink right now. You talked
about how the forests will decline due to unknown factors in the future — wind, freeze-thaw cycles, and blow-downs as
a result, and thinning forest cover. Would that decline in the ability of the maritime forests to absorb carbon dioxide be
overcome in part by the ability of increased crops to utilize carbon dioxide?
Mr. Duinker: Are you referring to examining the agriculture on one hand versus the forests on the other hand?
Senator Milne: Yes.
Mr. Duinker: I would have difficulty answering that. I would rather focus your attention on a forest decline
situation: Could we successfully intervene in the forest ecosystem to bring them back to improved health and make
those hectares better carbon pumps?
Senator Milne: We would have a greater insect infestation, such as that with the gypsy moth.
Mr. Duinker: My sense is that if we do begin to experience declines that we think are climate related, and of course it
will be difficult to figure it all out because there will be insects, diseases and wind storms, we may well want to
intervene, from a forest management standpoint, more frequently and more vigorously. That will be a hard sell because
the current thinking in the forest management sector today, or lately, has been ``natural dynamics'' and ``let us manage
with nature in mind.'' Let me tell you that this climate change is contrary to nature. That may mean that our
interventions may need to be stronger. We may need to harvest more frequently, and shorten the rotation in some
areas to help the forests through this transition.
If I may, I will go back to the point about nutrient management. It just struck me now that perhaps a key vehicle for
farmers in respect of climate change should be this concept of the environmental farm plan. Most provinces now have a
program of environmental farm planning, which was pioneered in Ontario about 10 years ago. We have an
environmental farm plan program in Nova Scotia that has not yet been widely adopted. However, this would be an
excellent vehicle to help farmers with water management and other things because nutrient management is a key theme
in those plans. Climate change should be finding its way into the environmental farm plan program.
Senator Milne: I have another fast question, if I may. Dr. Duinker, you talked about the workshops that you have
held in Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and, soon perhaps, in Prince Edward Island. What is the theme of these
workshops? Are they brain-storming sessions or are they actual results-driven sessions?
Mr. Duinker: C-CIARN, as a network, is only one or two years old. We have decided in most of the regions to get
out and visit with the stakeholders, start the dialogues on impacts and adaptation, and ensure that stakeholders and
researchers are meeting to discuss these issues. A key theme has been: What are the priority issues for the folks in
different provinces? The Newfoundland priority issues will be quite different from the Prince Edward Island issues. In
our case of diverse priorities, because we are four provinces, our workshops have been focused on awareness building,
information exchange, issue identification and priority setting.
Senator Milne: The themes have been preliminary.
Mr. Duinker: Yes.
The Chairman: Mr. Bourque, please proceed.
Mr. Alain Bourque, Coordinator, Quebec Region, Canadian Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation Research
Network: It is a pleasure to be here today, and an honour to present how Quebec is currently dealing with the
adaptation to climate change. I must admit that I am using a PowerPoint presentation for the fourth time this week,
but it is actually the first time this week that I have had less than 45 minutes to do this overview of the issues in Quebec.
I believe you have copies of the slides. I did withdraw some of the slides last night, because I realized I had too much
C-CIARN Québec is hosted by a new organization called Ouranos. It is a bit different from other C-CIARN
organizations in other provinces, as you will see. Ouranus is the god of the atmosphere in early Greek mythology, so it
is not a new acronym. We thought it would be interesting to use this type of name for a new organization about climate
Ouranus is an organization fully dedicated to regional climatology and adaptation to climate change. This
organization came into being because of the science, but also because of events in the past five to 10 years that
sensitized Québecois in a very rapid fashion. I will discuss why people in Quebec worry about climate change, what is
happening on the ground with respect to climate change in Quebec, and what we are doing about climate change.
I should mention that I have a background in regional climate modeling. When I completed my master's degree at
the University of Quebec at Montreal, I should probably have become a very theoretical person looking at models.
However, I returned to Environment Canada. As soon as I returned I had to work on the analysis of the Saguenay
flooding. The ice storm then came along, and I had to deal with the analysis of that. Those events kept my feet on the
ground and connected me with users and stakeholders.
I have here a very complicated graph from the IPCC report. I wish to draw your attention to the upper left side of
the graph, which represents the CO2 emissions forecasted for the next 100 years, from 2000 to 2100. Basically, the
scientists have developed socio-economic scenarios that would provide different possibilities on the evolution of
greenhouse gases for the future. There is an optimistic scenario on greenhouse gases, which is called the green scenario,
and a much more pessimistic scenario on CO2 emissions, which is sometimes referred to as the petroleum scenario.
When you look at the impacts of the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, even in the more
optimistic scenario you reach a doubling of CO2 in the next century. People must realize, as Mr. Duinker has said, that
we must take for granted that we will require an adaptation to climate change. The climate will change. The Kyoto
Protocol is trying to limit our emissions by three- or four-fold.
My next slide puts into perspective the evolution of the last 1,000 years of the northern hemisphere temperature. It
shows that the climate was stable for 10,000 years. In the last 100 years, we have been seeing warming of 0.6 degrees
Celsius, which already seems to create some impacts. Many climate scientists are saying that this is really only the tip of
the iceberg. Over the next 100 years, the warming will be three times more intense. That prediction is made under the
most optimistic scenario. This is quite worrisome to many people.
When you talk about warming of 1, 2, 3 degrees Celsius, people usually say that it is good. However, this type of
graph showing the impacts of warming on the intensity and frequency of extreme events makes many people worried.
This is particularly true with the agricultural sector. People first think that the warming will be good for their
business. However, when you tell them that they may not need crop insurance, they decide to revise their view and have
a closer look.
This graph shows a typical statistical distribution of an average temperature for any given day for any given station.
For example, we have an average temperature of 15.3 degrees Celsius. If we warm the climate by only 1.6 degrees
Celsius, it is an extreme. Our definition of extremes comes from our statistics of the past. An extreme weather event
that was probable at 1.3 per cent suddenly becomes probable at 33.3 per cent, with that small rise in temperature.
With a warming climate you go from a low energy atmosphere towards a high-energy atmosphere, meaning that the
heat waves and droughts are more severe. The rains would be much stronger. A higher energy atmosphere causes that.
People usually get very depressed when we present the different aspects of climate change. People in Quebec in the
past two years have been asking themselves which strategy they should adopt to attack the climate change issue. Mr.
Duinker mentioned in his presentation that there has been much emphasis and effort placed on the mitigation of the
sources. That is in response to our international commitments.
Many Canadians realize that Canada is only emitting about 2 per cent of the total greenhouse gases. We have to set
the example. We are not responsible for 98 per cent of the greenhouse gases. Kyoto Protocol-type approaches are good
steps in a good direction, but we need to do more, and with more and more countries included.
The climate continues to change as we discuss Kyoto Protocol-type arrangements. More people are looking at the
adaptation aspect. That aspect is to attack the problem of the impacts on our operations. We are becoming more
egotistic and thinking more about ourselves. We are trying to attack the problem where it really hurts. The climate
variables are changing, and that has implications for many of our social, environmental and economic activities.
We definitely need to have a more balanced approach. We need to look both at mitigation and adaptation. We must
always remember that we must do both. We solve some problems with mitigation and we fine tune with adaptation. If
we do not do anything in the way of mitigation, then adaptation will be major challenge. We could have a hard time
reaching adaptation under three or four times the CO2 level
Given weather events and the science, people are worried. They decided to attack the question and created a
concerted action at the applied science research centre named Ouranus. The undertaking was announced in May of this
year, and we set up office in August 2002, only a few months ago. This is a brand new action. It is funded by seven
provincial ministries, each contributing $250,000 per year. Hydro-Québec, which is worried about the impacts of
climate change on its business, is investing $2 million per year into the issue of regional climatology and adaptation.
Environment Canada, which has been the leader in the science for the past 30 years, is also a partner. Funding is
provided to do projects and develop strategies, and expertise is provided from institutions. This is combined into a core
group in a building in downtown Montreal. We have two floors of a building on Sherbrooke Street. Basically I am a
Ouranos employee sitting at the Ouranos office. There are Hydro Québec people, people from the provincial
government and people from four universities sitting there with me, and we are taking an integrated approach to the
problem of adaptation to climate change.
I have the statistics or the details here on the Ouranos slide. One very interesting thing is that the board of directors
includes people from the Caisse de dépôts et de placements, which manages the pension funds of Quebecers, and they
are very interested in knowing where they should invest the pension money of Quebecers. I think this is a good
illustration that economic people are starting to worry about climate change. When you talk about the ice storm and
the Saguenay flooding, you are talking about money impacts in a major way.
It is very nice to decide that you will work on adaptation to climate change, but when you look at the international
literature on the possible impacts of climate change, you have an impressive shopping list of thousands and thousands
of possible issues related to the impacts of climate change. We decided to focus further on what we have defined as the
It is important to say that adaptation is driven by knowledge. If you do not have knowledge, you do not adapt. You
do not know what to adapt to, basically. I have shown here on the left, by regions, the priority issues in Quebec. They
include the melting of permafrost and the impact of climate change on the production of hydro electricity. People at
Hydro-Québec are sometimes frustrated to realize that non-sustainable development is actually having a major impact
on what they call sustainable development. They are very worried about this. There are also the impacts on forestry,
but I will not talk too much about that because I knew I was presenting here today with Mr. Duinker.
We sometimes forget that Quebec has a large coast, and coastal erosion and sea level rises are also major issues.
Anyone who has been to the Magdalene Islands in the Gulf of St. Lawrence knows that you need to be worried about
sea level rise in that area. In southern Quebec, there are issues with which I will detail in an upcoming slide.
After defining those vulnerabilities and issues, people also concluded that there were some scientific tools that were
required to attack the questions of adaptation to climate change. Ouranos right now is investing in a major way in
regional climate modelling. The global climate models used to make climate change forecasts for the future are good
for the continental and global scale, but with a resolution of 500 kilometres, when you want to go toward the impact
scale, which is very often at the regional or local scale, then global climate models are not sufficient. You need regional
climate models that will give you a description more towards a resolution of 30 to 45 kilometres, which is a scale that
would more correctly represent the Great Lakes or the complexity of the Maritime provinces. Those are the types of
tools that we need.
We need better climate historical data to make links with past events. This is an interesting point that I want to
make. Many people are saying that climate change is a big issue, but as we speak now, Environment Canada is talking
about making cuts in its observation network, and it has been cutting its observation network for the last 10 years.
Sometimes we have a problem with consistency in the message. We say that climate change is very important, but then,
on the other hand, economic issues tend to dictate cutbacks in the observation network.
There are also other needs, such as better statistical analysis and better understanding of extreme weather events. In
Quebec, under the climate change issue, we do not want to study just any type of extreme weather event; we want to
study the extreme weather events that are likely to happen under climate change. We are not focusing much attention
on cold waves. It seems that heat spells during the summer are more of an issue.
It is important to have integrated information for stakeholders. All the stakeholders see presentations about climate
change and say ``This is great.'' Even this type of presentation helps to take decisions, or at least to change your
mindset, and to get ready for adaptation and take decisions further along in time. It comes back to the importance of
outreach of communication.
I have an example of a tool that is developed, the regional climate model. I mentioned that some global climate
models have a resolution of 500 kilometres to 500 kilometres, which is not very useful for impact and adaptation
studies. We want to quantify the impacts of climate change in order to develop regional climate models like this one.
On this graph, you can see the better resolution of the topography. We have to realize that, for the global climate
model, we do not even see James Bay in that model. This is not useful when you want to do impact studies on
hydropower reservoirs, for example.
Turning now to the regional priorities for Quebec, there are worries about the melting of the permafrost. For most
people in the permafrost area of Quebec, climate change is something that will come in 20 or 30 years, but actually it is
something that has already started. There are nice international pictures taken from Siberia or Arctic Canada showing
impacts on climate change on permafrost. We travelled north this summer, and I will update it with our own Quebec
pictures of melting permafrost.
On the left of the permafrost slide, you have a climatological map of permafrost over Quebec. Engineers have been
basically using permafrost as something that is taken for granted. They build infrastructure and use permafrost to
stabilize that infrastructure. Recent studies have shown, for example — and this is the figure on the right — that under
a two times CO2 climate, there would not be any permafrost in Quebec if the climate kept stable for quite a few years.
This means that something has to happen in between.
Salluit is an Inuit village at the extreme northern tip of Quebec, and over the last several years we have been
observing all kinds of impacts occurring with the melting of the permafrost. Salluit is growing, of course, like many of
the northern communities, and they are trying to establish new houses in new areas. In the last few years they have
noticed more landslides, and they are worried about where to build houses. They are very nervous about the
development of this village.
I have a picture which depicts how a piece of ice looks under the ground beneath the village of Salluit. Portions of
those pieces under the ground are composed of 40 per cent pure ice. You can imagine that, if this ice were to gradually
melt under a warming climate, that would have some impact. The first signal of that is a landslide. I could show you
hundreds of figures concerning thermal profile warming in the last five to ten years over northern Quebec. They prove
that it is actually happening and that it is in correlation with the climatic parameter over that area.
What can we do about the fact that permafrost is melting? There is work ongoing concerning vulnerability maps at a
scale useful to the people living there. For example, on the left you see the vulnerability map for Salluit, which shows
the type of soil present under the village. This can help decision makers where to build critical infrastructures. For
example, you would want to build a hospital over a rocky area and not in an area where there is mud and pure ice.
Those vulnerability maps are useful. However, we need to add the climate change components to modify what will
happen in our decision making for the future. I have a list of possible adaptation tools that scientists and impact people
have come up with during brainstorming sessions organized in the last year. There is a need to do better mapping of
vulnerabilities at useful scales, at the scale of the development of a village.
Adaptation strategies are also needed for existing infrastructures as well as for upcoming infrastructures. In terms of
existing infrastructures, we are talking about reviewing daily operations, for instance, in regard to snow removal and
where you dump it, which could amplify or trigger other problems. It goes all the way down to land use planning.
In terms of adaptation planning for upcoming infrastructures, we have to start to think about the review of design
criteria, national building codes and things like that. In the worst cases, we will have to discuss moving communities
which are already too vulnerable to permafrost melting. This, again, signals the importance of working together and
the importance of communications between stakeholders and researchers to work together to find solutions to
What is important, especially for scientists, is to better understand the processes and to advance in time in our
knowledge. Of course, there is the larger problem of accessibility and safety under a modifying environment for
northern communities. As you are well aware, many Inuit and others are using skidoos to move around. If, in
February, they go from Kuujjuaq to Schefferville and they encounter a river that is not frozen, they will be stuck and
have to come back. There will be an increased risk of accidents, et cetera. These are the types of impacts that must be
Hydro-Québec is not making a $2 million investment in climate change just for the beauty of the science. They are
doing it because there is a reason for it, and because they are very worried about the impact on their economic
situation. I have here an interesting graphic on the risks to Hydro-Québec. This is available on their Web site along
with their strategic plan. Most of their risk is associated with hydrology, that is, with the water availability in the
reservoir over central Quebec.
Of course, impacts of climate change on forestry is also an issue. I will not discuss that because there has been
enough said. I agree totally with what Mr. Duinker has said. Let me just say that many of the adaptation issues fall
under provincial or municipal jurisdiction. They are the ones who will be implementing the adaptation strategies. From
province to province and from region to region, adaptation solutions will differ, especially when they are linked with
What worries many people is the fact that trees do not move as quickly as climate. There is a question of the quality
of the soil which is available, along with the issue of insects and forest, all in a context in which we would like to use
forests as a sink, if possible. This creates a very complicated picture for the forestry issue in particular.
Coastal erosion for the maritime portion of Quebec is a large issue. Sea level rise, storm surges, waves, et cetera, are
forecasted to vary in time under climate change. Sea level rise is forecasted to rise because of the thermal expansion of
the ocean. A warm ocean takes up more room than a cold ocean. That is the simple logic of it.
I am sure many people from the Maritimes remember the storms in 2000 when, for example, Charlottetown had
flooding problems. More and more people are worried about extreme events. What will be the next catastrophe in
Canada? That is a question we could ask.
In Quebec, five years ago there was an infrastructure study done by the Ministry of Transport. All of the stars
shown on this graph depict actual transportation infrastructures which were supposed to last for 30 to 50 years,
according to the engineers who designed them. When they return to look at them three to five years later, what they see
is not what they expected. As a result, they need to restore a lot of the infrastructure. They are starting to ask
themselves: Are protection walls a good solution to the question of climate? We know that oceans tend to win, even
against our best technology.
In talking about the sea level rise question, what is interesting is that even though there might be uncertainty at the
regional level in terms of temperature and precipitation patterns, sea level rise is a global issue. If the planet is warming,
sea level rise will happen. You cannot have a major sea level rise over Boston or New York without having a significant
rise in Halifax. In terms of sea level rise, there are already adaptation solutions well known as a result of historical
climate change. The question is one of adapting to those adaptations. That is really the climate change question.
What has been done in Quebec in a concerted way is an effort to better characterize the coastal area through zoning
and mapping. This will result in a vulnerability map which will be useful for the stakeholders, such as the
municipalities, and which will allow them, perhaps, to review their way of adapting to a climate which is changing.
An example of intervention would be to retreat from the coast and let the natural processes go on along the coast.
We may want adaptation as a choice. Therefore, for example, we would want the economic development of different
villages done strategically, according to their vulnerabilities. The most popular one now is protection — in other
words, technology will save us, so let us put walls up everywhere. It is clear that, under climate change, we want less
and less of this. We need to revisit adaptation choices, taking into account climate change.
In southern Quebec the impacts are already being felt. There have been different types of events over the last five to
10 years, such as three or four incredible summers with 35- to 36-degree temperatures in downtown Montreal, which is
naturally raising the issues of health in urban areas. The Chicago heat wave was a good example of that. Are those heat
waves coming towards Toronto and Montreal? The question is being addressed now. Of course, climate catastrophes,
such as the ice storm and the flooding in the Saguenay, give us a warning about the changes.
Water management is an important issue for municipalities. There have been many problems with the quality of
drinking water related to the low levels of the St. Lawrence River and neighbouring rivers in southern Quebec. There is
the question of urban drainage. When there is an increase in extreme precipitation events, our sewer systems will
overload more frequently, and that impacts our home insurance because of flooding, and impacts our ecosystem
because of all the wastewater that cannot be sent through the treatment plant.
Climate change impacts ecosystems and biodiversity, and there are more economic issues surrounding the impacts
of climate change: the amplification of conflicts over water because of climate change, evaporation and the theft of
water that we want to consume, and there are impacts on agriculture, on road maintenance and on the profile of the
energy demand. Canada, historically, has been a land where energy is consumed for heating in the winter and during
the summer for cooling. Will we see a change in that trend? Will we begin to see a sharp increase in demand during the
summer and a sharp increase during the winter? Those are examples of important economic impacts.
I have one slide to illustrate the complexity of the issues in southern Quebec. It shows a good example of the
amplification of conflicts over water, using the St. Lawrence Seaway as an example. The river is basically at the tailpipe
of the Great Lakes watershed. Many people think that all of the problems that are piling up are landing in our area.
The picture on the left shows you the water level in 1994, which was qualified as normal climatology for the last 30
years. The picture from 1999 shows the extremely low water level, and you can see that new beaches have suddenly
appeared. You may also notice that, in the marinas, there are no boats in 1994. However, in 1999 there are many boats
in the marinas, and it was said that the boats stayed because they could not leave when the water levels were so low.
These are additional impacts that I need to mention. I have a further list that includes water level, tourism, leisure,
energy, drinking water, et cetera.
Are we vulnerable to weather extremes in southern Quebec? Pictures tell the story. Ice storms, Saguenay flooding,
heat spells, et cetera have occurred during the last five to 10 years. Under climate change, many of those are forecasted
to increase. It is really through the extreme that you often react. Much of the work that needs to be done is to change
our mode from an emergency crisis situation to a system where we have planned ahead so that we are better organized.
This next slide shows you the 14 major climate change projects encompassing science, impacts and adaptation, et
cetera. There are major, concerted initiatives happening now that touch on all of the aspects of climate change, from
the climate change science to the development of adaptation strategies.
My last slide corresponds with one of Mr. Duinker's conclusions: that we definitely need to focus again on regional
approaches to adapt Canada to climate change. Perhaps this will sound sensational, but more and more Canadians will
come to realize that Canada is almost under attack by its climate. When I said that to journalists recently, they loved it,
obviously. When were the last three times that the Canadian military was asked to intervene in Canada? It was during
the ice storm, the Red River flooding and during the Saguenay flooding. There is a risk. I do not want to be too
pessimistic about climate change but there is a risk that it could turn out very badly. I heard someone recently talking
about the Walkerton commission. I just imagine myself in 10 to 15 years hearing someone say they are tired of being
hit by extremes in Canada, and that we should start a commission to find out what we did wrong and why we did not
see it coming. I find it useful to think that way so that I realize we must do something about the issue.
Senator Elizabeth Hubley (Acting Chairman) in the Chair.
The Acting Chairman: Mr. Bourque, could you elaborate on the thermal expansion and the fact that we will have
more open water and, therefore, evaporation. How will that affect your province from an agricultural standpoint, just
to narrow my question a bit?
Mr. Bourque: Basically, almost every study done for southern Quebec or for the Great Lakes Basin talks about
evaporation, the uncertainties of significant warming and precipitation. However, evaporation is the clear winner in
those studies. That is why we are always talking about decreasing water levels for southern Quebec. That is not the case
for northern Quebec. Hydro-Québec thinks it will actually be an opportunity — a positive risk. We have to look at
both negative risks and opportunities.
Of course, agriculture in Quebec is in southern Quebec, so we are discussing the issue of less water most of the time.
We are having difficulty involving the agricultural community in Quebec in the climate change issue. It is really not
clear whether the extreme heat days will change that attitude, or the lack of water and the impacts of extremes that will
win that one. There is a much work to do in the agricultural sector. It is not like the permafrost issue where there are
Senator LeBreton: We seem to have a double problem with rising sea levels on our coasts and the storm surges and
waves. Yet, we have declining water levels in the Great Lakes and in the St. Lawrence Seaway. I am from Ontario and
am well aware of these problems. Not long ago, I was on Lake Huron and saw the huge docks where large boats used
to moor. Now, those docks are on dry land — no longer capable of mooring a boat. It is a stark picture.
Has your organization done any kind of economic impact study on the problem of the declining levels in the Great
Lakes and in the St. Lawrence system? Obviously, in terms of shipping in Montreal, Quebec City and other ports along
the St. Lawrence Seaway system, if there are ships going up and down the St. Lawrence, they will not be able to take on
as large loads because of water levels. Has there been an economic impact study or any start at trying to educate people
as to what this will cost?
Then, of course, you talked about pension funds and long-term implications for the economy.
Mr. Bourque: Ouranos is really a new thing. We have set up our work plan. That being said, work has been done on
the issue for the last 10 years. One of the interesting numbers that came out is that one centimetre less water in the St.
Lawrence means that an average cargo ship must carry 40 tonnes less cargo. This translates to hundreds of thousands
of dollars in revenues for the Port of Montreal. One of the important issues is that people in the Port of Montreal, for
example, do not like to discuss this on the public record. Business is involved here, so there are many vulnerability
issues, especially the economic ones, which have a high degree of sensitivity.
When we studied impacts, adaptation and vulnerability 10 years ago, we had a naive approach in thinking that all
Canadians could discuss vulnerabilities on the public record. The reality is that many of the economic forces will look
at those issues internally, but we must provide them with the basic tools to be able to adapt.
Senator LeBreton: In terms of history, the St. Lawrence Seaway is a relatively new phenomenon. I actually
remember when the seaway was opened. I stood on the bottom of the St. Lawrence Seaway at Cornwall when they
were moving the town of Iroquois. It is a relatively new system in terms of our history. Is there any science that shows
that this climate change might be cyclical? It is hard to say with the St. Lawrence Seaway because big ocean liners did
not go up the St. Lawrence Seaway 75 years ago, but is there any cyclical scientific data that shows an ebb and flow or
a rise and fall in the level of the Great Lakes, for instance?
Mr. Bourque: Hydrologists have studied many of the rivers in that fashion. They tried to find historical cycles. I am
not aware of any studies that I could reference, but many hydrologists are now starting to realize that cycle analysis is
good when you have a stable climate and a stable condition. When you suddenly add trends, and if you have a non-
stationary climate, then it becomes very much harder to study cycles.
Senator LeBreton: You showed a graph of the levels of the St. Lawrence Seaway in 1999. Have those levels not
improved somewhat in the last couple of years, or are they worse or are they the same?
Mr. Bourque: No, it improved a bit in 2000. It got worse in 2001, and again there was some fluctuation in 2002. In
August 2002, it was pretty low, but there was some problems with the drinking water supply in southern Quebec. Of
course, yes, we have a trend, but the natural variability is still there so that is why it is complicated to analyze.
Sometimes my biggest worry about climate change is that we get into two years of colder climate and then everyone
thinks that climate change is finished, but it may still be happening. It is totally natural. We have a supposition of two
curves here, of a trend and a very noisy signal.
Senator LeBreton: You will hear people say that on a particularly cold day in Ottawa. They wonder where the global
Living here in eastern Ontario, like western Quebec and the northern United States, we were particularly hard hit in
January 1998 with the ice storm. Is there any scientific data that this has ever happened before elsewhere in the world,
where countries perhaps cut down forests or something, triggering climate change that caused an ice storm, or
something dramatic like the ice storm?
Mr. Bourque: The study that was done on the ice storm said that in Canada it seemed to be the biggest storm
because of its size and the amount of ice that fell, et cetera. When you talk to hydro specialists who build pylons, they
say that there have been some cases elsewhere in the world of accumulation of ice on infrastructures before, but it was a
different type of icing. It happens in clouds, with pylons staying in clouds for weeks and there is an accumulation of ice.
It is a different problem.
I could not say if the ice storm was the biggest one in the world, but clearly in Canada the studies have shown that,
with the records we have over the last 50 years, it seemed to be the biggest.
Senator LeBreton: Just last week in the Carolinas, we saw that they were facing a situation similar to what we faced
where they had a huge ice storm and were losing power grids. The pictures looked similar, actually.
Senator Milne: Mr. Bourque, you have given us a lot of information. I will go back to the transcript of the
committee hearings because you have talked around and about each one of these graphics and have given us a lot of
food for thought.
You have told us that Ouranos is composed of seven provincial ministries in Quebec, plus Hydro-Québec with its $2
million a year, plus Environment Canada being a leader in the study of climate change. However, Environment
Canada has been decreasing its observation posts now for 10 years. I wish you would elaborate on that because this is
perhaps something about which this committee might be interested, and we might want to call on some people from
Environment Canada to give evidence in that regard. It seems to me that this is clearly a federal area that needs to be
Mr. Bourque: I was working with Environment Canada before working with Ouranos.
Senator Milne: Therefore you have some insider knowledge.
Mr. Bourque: For the last 10 years the Meteorological Service of Canada has had a chronic deficit problem. They
have had deficit after deficit, and Treasury Board has asked them to solve the problem. Of course, if a department has
a financial problem, it must try to find a resolution.
Senator Milne: Is Environment Canada cutting observation posts? Is it cutting personnel? Is it firing scientists?
Mr. Bourque: I am not too sure what initiatives are taking place, but I know that climate networks would be
affected. The way in which it was done would ensure that Canada has a well-distributed climate network to represent
the evolution of the climate of Canada, and to be able to detect climate change on the Canadian scale, or even at the
provincial scale. When we talk about impacts and adaptation, we usually want to go into much further detail. This is
where more data is needed than would be needed if we only want to detect climate change.
Senator Milne: You are talking about not only restoring Environment Canada to where it was but also about it
going into more detail, because you must have facts before you can say what you intend doing, and before you can
Mr. Bourque: At every impact and adaptation meeting, it is said that we need data. That is fundamental to the
science. The question is what objectives an organization wants to set for itself. Will it be climate change detection or
impacts analysis and adaptation? Depending on what you decide you want to do, you decide what networks to add.
Senator Milne: If our scientists need the tools to help us adapt to what is obviously going to happen, then we need
more than just detection.
Mr. Bourque: I mention this because, of course, impacts and adaptation is becoming a bigger issue. We will need to
invest more money in that issue, but we must take care when we invest more money. If we invest more money and cut
back a fundamental data source at the other end, we are in trouble and do not solve the problem. If we make additional
investments, we must ensure that we are consistent with our other fields. In impacts and adaptation, it is very easy to
spend money inefficiently.
A study done in France showed that 60 per cent of the gross national product is influenced by climate. That is quite
a bit to be influenced by climate. I am not saying that if climate changes the 60 per cent will be totally destroyed, but it
means that climate has many implications, and it is very easy to spend money unwisely.
Senator Milne: Agriculture is the second largest sector of the Canadian economy, and this will affect agriculture.
This is very serious. We are coming to the issue of how to mitigate impacts. Dr. Duinker spoke about looking at coastal
infrastructure and things that might need to be done, but you are basically saying that that would be a waste of money
because the sea will win.
Mr. Bourque: It depends on the case. It is very much a geographically-oriented problem. For some regions it could
still be useful, but most of the coastal people do not like the idea of walls. When I was talking about that, I saw
senators nodding their heads.
Senator Milne: I think that is a topic this committee should look into. Thank you very much.
The Acting Chairman: Mr. Duinker, you have been sitting quietly. Is there anything else you would like to share with
the committee before we close?
Mr. Duinker: Your predecessor in the chair challenged me with regard to my financial numbers with respect to
chairs. I thought I would respond with what I had in mind when I raised the question of numbers.
There are two ways to finance a research chair. One is called a funded chair, wherein someone provides money
annually to support the enterprise of the chair. Another mechanism is called an endowment, wherein a huge bundle of
money comes in, and some portion of the income from the interest on that money is used to support the chair. Our
chairperson here was exactly right when he said that, given today's interest rates, if you want to endow chairs you will
need a huge bundle of money.
My suggestion around the establishment of research chairs was not to use the endowment approach, especially given
interest rates today. I would rather talk about a funding stream where the funding is expected to last no longer than
five years and, as with many of these enterprises, the university is expected to offer a post and the chair holder is
expected to get money competitively in the normal grant and contract process to keep the research enterprise going.
Given that understanding, perhaps my numbers are still a little modest, but I did not want to scare anyone with
Senator Milne: Dr. Duinker, you spoke about one funded research chair in each of the six regions. What six regions
were you speaking of?
Mr. Duinker: They are the Atlantic, Quebec, Ontario, the Prairies, B.C. and the North.
Senator Cordy: A whole other issue is that Atlantic Canada needs far more research dollars than it is currently
getting, but we will save that for another day and another committee.
Mr. Bourque, you said that adaptation is driven by knowledge, and certainly that is very true. Dr. Duinker said that
it is easier to convince Canadians of the need for change if they are currently involved, and he gave the example of
health care. If you are on a waiting list, you will say that the health care system must change. Unless you are actually
seeing climate change effects in your region, you are likely to want to postpone the matter.
However, polling has shown that the majority of Canadians are in favour of the Kyoto Protocol, and that leads into
the next step of raising awareness of the effects of climate change and the need for adequate adaptation. Canadians are
in the mood for gaining knowledge. How do we ensure that Canadians will get that knowledge? Certainly, the presence
of you gentlemen here this morning is allowing Canadians to become aware of it. The reality is that those in the field,
whether the political field or the scientific field, have great amounts of knowledge, but how do you get Canadians to be
receptive to that knowledge?
Mr. Bourque: I could give the example of what is happening in Quebec with Ouranos.
Senator Cordy: That is a great endeavour.
Mr. Bourque: It is a very large and complex issue, so we have decided to set our objective as being outreach to the
specialists. We want to provide the tools for the specialists to be able to adapt and develop the technology, et cetera.
We are leaving it to our partners — the provincial ministries, Environment Canada and Hydro-Québec — to do the
outreach to the people. It is already a very big issue, and this initiative is focusing on the technical people.
Outreach to the general public is another field, and we need more investment in this field in particular in order to be
able package our PowerPoint presentations in a way that will help average Canadians to change their way of doing
Senator Cordy: How difficult will it be within the agricultural community? You rightfully said that in Nova Scotia
the idea of a longer growing season is quite appealing, yet you need to look at the down side. We have had droughts in
southern Alberta that have had extreme impacts on the agricultural community there. How do we get the agricultural
communities to buy into the need for adaptation?
Mr. Bourque: Unfortunately, it is extreme events that give a wake-up call to most people. As an illustration, I went
to the Union des producteurs agricoles south of Montreal and made this PowerPoint presentation to them. I had to
work very hard to get that meeting with them because they did not want to see me. I made the presentation last
summer, three days after they lost 500,000 chickens because of heating problems. They were suddenly very interested in
my presentation. They told me that had I come there three days earlier, they might have dismissed me after 15 minutes.
Senator Cordy: They always say that timing is everything in politics, so perhaps it is everything in many other areas.
Mr. Duinker: In this respect, we have talked about the erosion of personnel in some organizations such as
Environment Canada, or the amount of enterprise happening there. I do not believe our agricultural extension
mechanisms are as well funded as they were when I was in the agriculture sector in central Ontario in the early 1970s.
That is one mechanism. We also need to find ways to mobilize the farm groups. We have the Ontario Federation of
Agriculture in this province, and a similar organization in each of the other provinces. We have producer groups,
where I doubt whether climate change is high on those agendas, yet. We need to find a way to get them involved.
The environmental farm plan program, as I mentioned earlier, is a mechanism to bring this topic to farmers'
agendas. I think that we need to push this risk concept. Everyone knows about the risk of the barn burning down or
the crop failing, and they know the concept of insurance. Despite our anxiety over rising rates for insurances these
days, every business person understands insurance. We need to cast climate change impacts and adaptation in an
In the forest sector, we need to spend small amounts to change the way we do things that will lower our
vulnerability, if I can put it that way. That is the same kind of argument you can use with farmers: to lower their
vulnerability through small investments in a pseudo-insurance framework. They understand that language.
The Acting Chairman: I wish to add that this committee will be meeting with representatives of the Canadian
Federation of Agriculture and the National Farmers Union in January. We will certainly pass along some of the issues
that you have stressed today.
Senator Lapointe: My questions are for Mr. Bourque. Is the Ouranos Consortium incorporated?
Mr. Bourque: It has just incorporated itself. It is a non-profit organization.
Senator Lapointe: It is both a private and paragovernmental consortium?
Mr. Bourque: Yes.
The Acting Chairman: Mr. Bourque, may I request that you provide us with your presentation, in colour, on letter
sized paper. The slides are marvellous, but the colour is important in order to understand them better. It would be
helpful if you could do that for the committee.
The committee adjourned.