Coastal climate change

Coastal climate change

Our coast. Our future. Nova Scotians are feeling the impacts of climate change. Stronger and more frequent storms, wildfires, flooding, warmer summers, historic snowfalls and less rain are all having an effect on the province and our 13,000 kilometres of coastline.

With 13,000 kilometres of coastline, Nova Scotia is vulnerable to the effects of climate change. Climate change puts our communities, people and homes close to the ocean at higher risk for erosion, flooding, storm surge and rising sea levels. While this is concerning, there are things we can, and must do, to live by the ocean in a way that’s safe and responsible.

Together, coastal property owners, governments, communities and business owners need to re-think how we build and develop along our coastline to better protect our homes, communities, natural areas and each other.

Whether you live by the coast now, or plan to build there someday, it’s essential to understand the risks and hazards. It’s also important to know what you need to do to reduce the risks and hazards. Information and tools are available to help you make informed decisions and help keep your loved ones and property safe and protected.

It’s time to come together and take action to protect ourselves and our environment as we adapt to climate change.

What coastal property owners need to know and do

Buying or building a property is one of the biggest, most important decisions we make in our lives. There’s a lot to consider to make sure your home is safe, functional and meets your needs. It’s a long-term investment that deserves to be protected.

Property owners and communities along our coasts must take the extra steps to prepare and stay safe from coastal erosion, flooding, storms and rising sea level.

Resources to support Nova Scotians

If you own coastal property, here are resources and planning tools to help you plan for the effects of climate change:

Understanding our coastal environment

Natural areas along the coast benefit everyone. They can help protect homes and communities from rising sea level, strong winds and waves. They also reduce the impacts of coastal flooding.

Our coastal wetlands capture and store carbon, which helps us respond to climate change. They provide habitats for plants and animals, helping to protect biodiversity and species at risk. They support our fishery industries by giving fish and other sea creatures shelter and by supporting nursery habitats for species important to Nova Scotia.

When coastal property owners work with nature to reduce the effects of coastal erosion and flooding, we all benefit. 

Right now, about 13% of Nova Scotia's coastline is protected from development inside provincial parks, wilderness areas, nature reserves, national parks, national wildlife areas and in land owned and managed by conservation land trusts, including Mi’kmaq organizations.  

As we continue our work to achieve our goal of protecting 20% of our land and water, this number will increase. To help meet our goal, the Parks and Protected Areas Plan contains additional coastal sites committed for protection and the Collaborative Protected Areas Strategy commits to expanding the network of protected and conserved areas, some of which will be identified along the coast.   

We all have a role to play

People building on or near the coast must consider climate change risks. Taking informed action is everyone’s responsibility. Building on or near the coast, with climate change in mind, involves many different people. For example:

  • property owners make investments and decisions on where and how they want to build or adapt their homes and properties
  • municipalities help create climate-resilient communities by considering climate change in their approach to zoning, land-use planning, by-laws and the criteria they use to issue building permits
  • professionals (like architects, engineers, contractors, real estate agents, surveyors, geologists, insurance companies and others) make sure that standards are met and provide information, advice and guidance to property owners
  • provincial government sets building codes and standards, provides climate change impact information and leads Nova Scotia’s response to climate change policy
  • federal government provides climate change impact information and puts in place legislation, policy and programs to support climate action
  • academia and research organizations (like CLIMAtlantic) provide research and tools that property owners can use to make informed decisions when building or renovating their homes and properties

Global issue

Climate change is impacting every part of our world – including our coastlines.

We know that parts of our coast will look very different 25, 50, 100 years from now.  Rising global temperatures mean rising sea levels. When added to storm surges and high tides, the result is more intense flooding and erosion in coastal regions in every corner of the world. 

Across the globe, people, homes and the environment are at risk. Climate change is the most pressing issue facing the global community, and it requires a global response.

Leading climate action

Nova Scotia is taking strong action in response to climate change. As a national leader on climate action, we’re:

  • leading the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in Canada and are well on our way to meeting our 2030 greenhouse gas emissions reduction target of 53% below 2005 levels – the strongest target in the country
  • developing a vision to be become a national and global clean energy leader
  • working to protect 20% of our land and water by 2030
  • supporting community-led local leadership to respond to climate change through programs like the Sustainable Communities Challenge Fund, which has already committed more than $1.5 million to coastal protection projects across the province