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Canada warming at twice the global rate, leaked report finds

Canada warming at twice the global rate, leaked report finds

Canada is, on average, experiencing warming at twice the rate of the rest of the world, with Northern Canada heating up at almost three times the global average, according to a government report leaked to CBC News columnist Neil Macdonald by a government source.

Entitled Canada’s Changing Climate Report (CCCR), the study was commissioned by the Environment and Climate Change Department, and is slated to be officially released on Tuesday.

The leaked copy of the report says that since 1948, Canada’s annual average temperature over land has warmed 1.7 C, with higher rates seen in the North, the Prairies and northern British Columbia. In Northern Canada, the annual average temperature has increased by 2.3 C.

According to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), since 1948, global average temperatures have increased by about 0.8 C.

Along with these temperature increases, the CCCR says Canada is experiencing increases in precipitation, particularly in winter, “extreme fire weather” and water supply shortages in summer and a heightened risk of coastal flooding.

The report was authored by government scientists from the ministries of the Environment and Climate Change, Fisheries and Oceans and Natural Resources, with contributions from university experts.

The document says that while warming in Canada has been the result of both human activity and natural variations in the climate, “the human factor is dominant,” especially the emission of greenhouse gases.

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Flooding, drought risks

Increasing warmth has had a number of effects in Canada, including greater precipitation, the report says.

The authors’ observations show that annual precipitation has increased across Canada since 1948, with larger increases in Northern Canada and parts of Manitoba, Ontario, northern Quebec and Atlantic Canada. Warming has also led to a reduction in how much snowfall accounts for total precipitation in Southern Canada.

Although flooding is often the result of a multiplicity of factors, more intense rainfall will increase urban flood risks.

Warming will also intensify the severity of heat waves and contribute to higher risks of drought and wildfires.

Low- and high-emission scenarios

The government report is scheduled for release at 1 p.m. ET on Tuesday. It is coming out the day after the federal government’s carbon-pricing plan went into effect in Manitoba, New Brunswick, Ontario and Saskatchewan. 

Ottawa has imposed a fuel levy in these provinces as a backstop, because they do not have their own carbon-pricing scheme in place.

The report stresses that efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the coming decades will have “an increasing impact on the amount of additional warming beyond this time frame.” 

The report says the national annual average temperature increase projected for the late century, compared to the reference period of 1986-2005, ranges from a “low-emission scenario” of 1.8 C to a “high-emission scenario” of 6.3 C.

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