Public health authority releases local climate projections and proposes adaptations

Public health authority releases local climate projections and proposes adaptations

By Jack Wilson

Local Journalism Initiative


The Townships’ public health authority released a climate change report this month, outlining projections of climate impacts and how the authority, falling under the CIUSSS de l’Estrie-CHUS, plans to respond. “Climate change is the number one threat to our health right now,” said public health director Isabelle Samson. The report offers bleak scenarios for the region’s climate between 2051 and 2080. It makes the case for adapting to climate threats to reduce their impact on the population.

The report describes four possible scenarios for climate change after the year 2051, depending on the future of global emissions, on the basis that even a rapid cut in emissions wouldn’t do much to change the trajectory up to 2050. It prepares for the worst of the four scenarios, a scenario in which emissions continue to grow at the current rate.

Samson said public health authorities need to be prepared for the worst. “We took the worst-case scenario because of our mandate to protect health,” she said. “We’ve been talking about this forever and nothing’s changing,” Samson added, making continued global emissions a realistic possibility.

According to the worst-case projections for 2051 to 2080, the average temperature in the region will increase by 4.7 C from where it sat between 1971 and 2000. The hottest day in summer would climb to 35.7 C, compared to the 31.1 C average for the 30-year period ending in 2010. The coldest day in winter would average -22.3 C, instead of the -31.4 C average of that same period. The winter season would shorten, with fewer days below -15 C and a shorter period between the first and last frost. Whereas the average year between 1981 and 2010 saw just four days above 30 C, this scenario would have 31 days in that temperature range.

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