Climate Change Adaptation

The long-term climate change trend is clear. Global greenhouse gas emission levels are expected to rise, and climate impacts are expected to become more frequent and intense.

We must prepare for climate change and plan adaptive measures now, because the costs of inaction will exceed the costs of adaptation.

All Canadians have a role to play in meeting this challenge. Despite the need for shared ownership of this issue, Canadian electricity companies must initiate the development of systematic approaches to climate change adaptation.

Include climate adaptation in infrastructure renewal

Electricity infrastructure is already experiencing a range of minor and major impacts from climate change, which are likely to increase.

Canada’s electricity sector will spend approximately $350 billion between 2010 and 2030 to update aging infrastructure, with massive capital projects underway in every part of Canada.

Climate adaptation considerations must be part of this infrastructure renewal process. Like other sectors of the Canadian economy, the electricity sector has begun to incorporate adaptation considerations in a systematic way.

Climate change a risk to reliability

The data is unequivocal. Once infrequent, high impact scenarios are happening more often, and with greater severity. The electricity sector is entering a more complex, dynamic, and uncertain environment, and risk management strategies must be revised accordingly.

CEA’s member companies stress that greater clarity and confidence in climate change data and modelling methods is needed to support adaptation considerations in planning and infrastructure investment decisions.

Beyond improved availability, understanding of climate data, and the development of corporate governance tools to turn data into business decisions, many actions should be undertaken to further Canada’s commitment to adaptation.

CEA recommendations

Taking action to respond and adapt to climate change requires understanding and support from every level of government throughout the nation. All stakeholders must be part of the conversation and solution.

The following recommended actions include collaboration in both contributions and opportunities for each stakeholder.

Federal government

  • Develop a national adaptation strategy
  • Improve national understanding of climate risks and opportunities
  • Support scientific research and climate data at a regional level
  • Ensure cross-border coordination and risk management

Provincial and Territorial governments

  • Establish a position on climate risks
  • Strengthen building codes and standards
  • Update flood plain maps


  • Develop adaptation action plans
  • Ensure integrated participation from multiple stakeholders
  • Pursue comprehensive energy efficiency actions

System operators

  • Incorporate climate scenarios into load forecasts
  • Maintain a climate dialogue with other system operators

Electricity regulators

  • Establish policies and practices that recognize the importance of addressing climate risks
  • Encourage collaboration to identify cost-effective solutions

Electricity generators, transmitters, and distributors

  • Develop climate adaptation management plans
  • Exchange best practices in climate adaptation, including models and methods
  • Review electricity system standards and revise as necessary
  • Promote demand response and improve system flexibility
  • Optimize use of water resources and watersheds

Customers and citizens

  • Support and engage in community discussions around climate change and critical infrastructure
  • Contribute to demand response