Canadian forest fires are the latest costly climate disaster that public accounts fail to capture

By Don Pittis
CBC News
May 18, 2023
Category: Carbon, Climate & Bioenergy
Region: Canada

You don’t have to tell the people of Calgary and other Canadian communities breathing orange air that forest fires have a cost. And while repeated studies draw a direct line between an increase in costly forest fires and climate change, economists and accountants right up to Canada’s Parliamentary Budget Officer say the benefits of stopping climate change and thus reducing the many harms it creates are simply impossible to measure for public accounting purposes. It is an interesting conundrum and the thousands of people displaced from their homes or breathing smoke from the current spate of forest fires are caught in the middle. While federal budgets include all the costs of fighting climate change, the other side of the ledger, the notional income from the benefits of you not breathing smoke, or at least breathing less, remain blank. Since there is no benefit, it is harder to justify spending the money.

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