A new report from Environment Lethbridge highlights the gaps and barriers that Lethbridge needs to address to adapt to climate change.
Recent extreme weather events have shown that the need to adapt to the effects of climate change will be required sooner than we would like. In addition, many parts of our community are not fully prepared for how those impacts will be realized in southern Alberta and Lethbridge.
Following a year of conversations with different stakeholder groups, we were able to gather a wealth of information about the things we are doing well along with the gaps and barriers that exist in our response to climate change. While each group had different perspectives and specific needs, some overarching take-aways can be articulated.
From a community perspective, most feedback identified a need for better leadership and community knowledge. Each of the three groups of community voices described specific needs for future action:
- social values need to shift towards a more collective community focus
- communities must re-orientate their value system to re-center the natural environment and traditional culture.
- improved actions including consumption, energy efficiency, water conservation
- calls for political leaders to take more action
- improving Indigenous and Youth involvement and general awareness
- better political leadership across both municipal and provincial governments
- the need for regulation and a better climate change program to take action
For the focus groups, every group identified specific gaps and barriers for their sector. However, some common themes and connections emerged.
- There is a knowledge gap when it comes to climate change. Barriers related to education and communication of information were the most common overall barrier and were identified as a top three priority in five of the seven groups that examined barriers.
- Some focus areas are much further along in their thinking than others. Unsurprisingly, some sectors (Natural Systems, Disaster Management, Water) are further along in their thinking about climate adaptation than others. Those sectors that deal with the natural landscape, where changes have been apparent for some time, such as Natural Systems and Water, along with the representatives from Disaster Management, have spent more time developing a response to climate change.
- There is no coordinated approach to climate adaptation and resilience. Despite the enormous breadth of the issue, there is very little communication or joint response between the different sectors. Some connections can be seen in areas where there are ongoing collaborations, such as between Disaster Management and Social Justice and Health or between Water and Agriculture.
There are places we are doing well across all parts of our community, however, gaps and barriers that were identified leave us vulnerable to the significant impacts of climate change in Lethbridge. The climate is changing and how we respond today will have repercussions for the impacts we see in Lethbridge tomorrow.
Click here to download the full report.