Louise ComeauLouise Comeau, director of the Environment and Sustainable Development Research Centre at the University of New Brunswick, has been appointed to a federal panel examining how Canada is coping in the face of a warming planet.

Ottawa’s Expert Panel on Climate Change Adaptation and Resilience Results will make recommendations on how to measure progress on federal, provincial, and territorial adaptation efforts in building Canada’s resilience to climate change. By spring 2018, it will propose a suite of indicators to measure progress on adaptation and climate resilience.

“It’s no surprise to us that Louise, with her vast knowledge and experience on climate change would be chosen to join this federal panel,” says Dr. Ted Needham, acting dean of UNB’s faculty of forestry and environmental management, of which the centre is a part. “We’re pleased and proud.”

With nearly three decades of experience working to mitigate and adapt to climate change, Dr. Comeau will share her broad insights and experiences from international, national and regional work. But she will also be a voice for New Brunswick, and she says the panel’s findings will be pertinent for the province and its people.

Dr. Comeau is interested in the long-term implications of living in a world with a changing climate, including impacts on health and well-being.

“Climate change is a risk to our physical well-being. We’re seeing increasing instances of Lyme disease, for instance, and an extreme weather event itself could certainly place you in harm’s way,” Dr. Comeau says.

“But one of the interesting areas that has emerged is the effect of extreme events on mental health. People are feeling anxiety about extreme weather. And, of course, it is upsetting for people when they are displaced from their homes, from their capacity to work, when they lose things that matter to them.”

A warmer planet also means a coastal province like New Brunswick needs to grapple with moving people and communities back from the water’s edge, she says.

“We need a more strategic approach to preventing coastal erosion, including looking at what natural systems can do. For instance, restoring wetlands and natural infrastructure, like shrubbery to manage water flow. Unfortunately, in some cases, we will have to move back from the water’s edge because it is simply not a place to be for the long term for many communities.”

Media contact: David Stonehouse

Photo: Louise Comeau, director of the Environment and Sustainable Development Research Centre at the University of New Brunswick, has been appointed to a federal panel examining how Canada is coping in the face of a warming planet. (Rob Blanchard / Photo UNB)

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