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Province funds research into climate change adaptation in Labrador

With assistance of more than $22,000 from the provincial government, a climate change research project will be carried out to address climate change adaptation issues in Labrador.

The project is being led by geography professor Dr. Trevor Bell of the Faculty of Arts and will engage researchers, local government, non-government agencies, local decision-makers and community leaders in Labrador to explore climate change adaptation issues for this region of the province.

“We are pleased that the Department of Environment and Conservation is supporting this project,” said Dr. Bell. “The funding will certainly enhance our ability to undertake climate change adaptation work with the communities, researchers and governments in Labrador.”

The project is part one of a two-stage climate change research program that is in line with government’s commitment to address climate change issues related to fisheries and aquaculture, environmental monitoring and increased awareness, as outlined in the province’s Climate Change Action Plan.

“Climate change adaptation is a serious issue for Newfoundland and Labrador, given there are many smaller communities and towns, most of them coastal,” said Charlene Johnson, minister of environment and conservation. “Many of our rural communities have large geographical distances between them, as well as extensive coastlines and river systems. Sea level rise, storm surges and severe weather events are several of the anticipated adverse effects of climate change on the province, and communities need to prepare for the possibility of coastal erosion, flooding and impacts on municipal infrastructure.”

Patty Pottle, provincial minister of Aboriginal Affairs, is pleased with the efforts of Dr. Bell and project partners including the Nunatsiavut Government and the Labrador Institute, as they develop and implement a Climate Adaptation Strategy for northern Labrador.

“Aboriginal people are very concerned about the potential impacts of climate change,” said Minister Pottle. “In northern Labrador, there is a strong reliance on living off the land and a shifting climate can alter such things as fish and caribou migration.”

“In order for the people of Labrador to prosper in our shifting global climate, all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians have to adapt and make necessary changes,” said John Hickey, minister of Labrador affairs.

“This research will provide us with the knowledge to make informed choices on climate change, as we work together with Memorial University through the Northern Strategic Plan for Labrador.”

The climate change adaptation work undertaken in Labrador will increase awareness of the predicted changes, help determine the best approaches to deal with them and help strengthen the resiliency of northern communities.