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HomeWorldFrom fire to floods, climate change hits Canada’s fragile supply chain

From fire to floods, climate change hits Canada’s fragile supply chain

The large rains that unleashed floods and mudslides within the Canadian province of British Columbia uncovered the nation’s provide chain vulnerability as essential railways and roads have been severed from the nation’s largest port.

That one storm might inside hours shut down a key engine in one of many world’s largest exporting nations highlights Canada’s distinctive financial fragility. The vast majority of Canadian exports, which account for almost one-third of the nation’s GDP, journey to the Pacific coast to succeed in Asian markets.

Railway tracks are suspended above the washed out Tank Hill underpass of the Trans Canada Freeway 1 after devastating rain storms prompted flooding and landslides, northeast of Lytton, British Columbia, Canada November 17, 2021. (Reuters)

However the provide chain route depends on two rail strains and a handful of highways via the Rocky Mountains and rugged British Columbia inside to the Port of Vancouver.

“Geology didn’t give Canada a number of choices and funnelling an enormous quantity of exports down the Fraser Canyon will increase our vulnerability,” stated Barry Prentice, professor of provide chain administration at College of Manitoba.

The Fraser Canyon, which stretches from B.C.’s excessive inside plateau via the Coast Mountains to the decrease mainland, suffered among the most extreme freeway washouts in the course of the storm. It was additionally ravaged by a wildfire this summer time that destroyed a city and closed highway and rail routes.

Constructing a 3rd observe via the canyon, roughly 150 kilometres (93 miles) northeast of Vancouver, is just not sensible for the reason that present tracks are “actually carved into the wall of the canyon,” he added.

Canada is creating a plan to adapt to local weather change and this week’s historic flooding underscored the necessity to shield export routes, Canadian Pure Assets Minister Jonathan Wilkinson stated.

“What this week has proven us is a few of these points round export routes, and round items routes…are maybe extra essential than many people had even assumed,” Wilkinson advised Reuters.

Extra drought and floods

British Columbia is just not geared up to deal with the more and more excessive climate it faces, stated Simon Donner, professor of climatology on the College of British Columbia.

“These have been rainfall totals you’d count on to see in a tropical cyclone, not in November in Canada,” he stated.

Extra such disruptions in B.C. will possible pressure Canada to export extra commodities south and east, relatively than west, receiving decrease costs than Asian markets pay, stated Wade Sobkowich, government director of the Western Grain Elevator Affiliation.

Some work is already underway to make Canada’s export economic system extra resilient.

The port at Prince Rupert in northern B.C. plans to extend its container capability by one-third by 2023, providing a extra viable, albeit a lot smaller, different for shippers to succeed in Asia.

In 2017, Canada’s Senate launched a report on the feasibility of a 7,000-kilometer northern infrastructure hall working from the Pacific Coast, throughout the boreal forest previous Hudson Bay and into northern Quebec.

The report concluded such a mission might increase exports however take a long time to finish.

Local weather change is inflicting issues for shippers, however it might additionally supply options.

Churchill, Manitoba’s seldom-used port on Hudson Bay close to the Arctic could grow to be extra viable as melting glaciers open transport lanes, Prentice stated.

The season for ships travelling via the Nice Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway may get longer earlier than ice closes the route every winter, stated Bob Ballantyne, senior adviser on the Freight Administration Affiliation, which represents transport industries.

The options present no near-term repair, nevertheless.

“We’re on this bizarre place the place local weather change means each extra drought and extra flooding,” stated local weather professor Donner. “The issue in British Columbia and throughout Canada and the world, is we’re tailored to a local weather of the previous.”

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