Environment Canada is worried that the Harper government’s own effort to encourage public servants to more carefully consider the risks and possible impacts of climate change is falling on deaf ears, documents show.
A special framework on climate change adaptation introduced in last year’s budget calls on bureaucrats across the government to routinely think about how decisions they make today could be hit by climate change in the years ahead.
The goal is to ensure officials get savvy to climate risks, so federal policies and programs are better able to withstand ground-level changes — melting permafrost destabilizing infrastructure in Canada’s North, for instance, or ocean acidification killing sockeye salmon.
However, internal documents show that the team implementing the plan fears it may be dismissed in some corners of the bureaucracy, since officials won’t have to keep track of how their decisions deal with climate-related risks.
Without requiring such an explanation, the adaptation blueprint would likely be ignored by parts of the federal government that don’t typically give a second thought to the country’s warming climate, warns an Environment Canada memo from July 2011 obtained by The Canadian Press through the Access to Information Act.
“Without a mandatory reporting mechanism in place, the framework and the importance of considering and planning for how climate change might affect the federal government’s ability to carry out its responsibilities in the future may be lost on some departments and agencies for whom this is not seen as a priority.”