Sustainable Development Goal 13: Climate action

Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 13Footnote 1 calls for urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts. It emphasizes strengthening the resilience and adaptive capacity of countries to climate-related hazards and natural disasters. It calls on governments to:

  • integrate climate change measures into national policies, strategies and planning
  • improve education, knowledge and awareness of how to mitigate climate change and adapt to its impacts

This SDG is the centrepiece for developed countries to work with and assist developing countries on climate change.

Canadian ambition under Climate Action

  • Support Canadians to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, and ensure Canadians are well equipped and resilient to face the effects of climate change
  • Achieve 40% to 45% greenhouse gas emission reductions below 2005 levels by 2030, and achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050

Canadian Indicator Framework

In collaboration with federal departments and agencies, Statistics Canada has developed the Canadian Indicator Framework (CIF) for the Sustainable Development Goals. The CIF includes 76 indicators specific to Canada, which measure progress using a set of nationally relevant, objective and comprehensive indicators. CIF indicators for SDG 13 are:

  • Greenhouse gas emissions
  • Frequency of selected natural disasters
  • Proportion of municipal organizations who factor climate change adaptation into their decision-making process

Supplementary indicator

  • Progress towards Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions

What we are doing to address climate change in Canada

Canada’s approach to climate change

The Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change (2016) was developed with the provinces and territories and in consultation with Indigenous Peoples, youth, businesses, non-governmental organizations and the public to meet emissions reduction targets, grow the economy, and build resilience to a changing climate. It includes a pan-Canadian approach to pricing carbon pollution and measures to achieve emissions reductions across all sectors of the economy. It aims to drive innovation and growth by increasing technology development and adoption to ensure Canadian businesses are competitive in the global low-carbon economy. It also includes actions to:

  • advance climate change adaptation and build resilience to climate impacts across the country, including in Indigenous, northern, and coastal communities that are disproportionately affected
  • enhance access to climate information and support through the Canadian Centre for Climate Services

In December 2020, the Government of Canada announced A Healthy Environment and a Healthy Economy, Canada’s strengthened climate plan. Building on the Pan-Canadian Framework, this plan contains 64 strengthened and new federal policies, programs and investments to cut pollution, foster inclusivity and social equity and build a stronger, cleaner, and more resilient economy. It will do this through 5 pillars:

  • making the places Canadians live and gather more affordable by cutting energy waste
  • making clean, affordable transportation and power available in every community
  • continuing to ensure that pollution isn’t free and that households get more money back
  • building Canada’s clean industrial advantage
  • embracing the power of nature to support healthier families and more resilient communities

In 2021, the Government of Canada committed to new climate change mitigation actions, including:

  • capping emissions from the oil and gas sector at current levels
  • requiring that they decline at the pace and scale needed to get to net zero by 2050

The Government also committed to accelerating Canada’s G20 commitment to eliminate fossil fuel subsidies from 2025 to 2023. The federal government also follows through on the “Statement on International Public Support for the Clean Energy Transition” by ending new direct public support for the international unabated fossil fuel sector by the end of 2022, except in limited and clearly defined circumstances that are consistent with the 1.5 degree Celsius warming limit and the goals of the Paris Agreement.

To support Indigenous climate leadership, the Government of Canada is partnering with First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples to set an agenda for climate action and a framework for collaboration. Indigenous climate leadership includes a rich history of Traditional Knowledge systems, building up community resilience and the capability to adapt, particularly in remote, northern, and coastal communities. Recognizing Indigenous climate leadership means:

  • investing in the agency of Indigenous Peoples and communities
  • supporting Indigenous-led and delivered solutions
  • equipping Indigenous Peoples with equitable resources
  • ensuring appropriate access to funding to implement self-determined climate action

Through the Natural Climate Solutions Fund and other programs, the Government of Canada will make progress toward unlocking the power of Canada’s natural landscape to:

  • increase carbon sequestration and storage
  • reduce emissions in the atmosphere
  • increase resilience to the impacts of climate change

This will be achieved through activities such as planting trees, restoring grasslands, peatlands, wetlands, croplands, coastal zones and urban forests, and by improving agricultural land management. In addition to climate mitigation and resilience benefits, this will provide benefits for biodiversity (including habitat restoration for species at risk), as well as human health and well-being.

The Government of Canada will ensure that Canada is a global leader in government operations that are net-zero, resilient and green. Led by the Centre for Greening Government of the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat, the Government of Canada will transition to net-zero carbon and climate-resilient operations. It will do so while also reducing environmental impacts beyond carbon, including on waste, water and biodiversity.


The Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability Act enshrines Canada’s target to achieve net-zero emissions by the year 2050 in law. The Act establishes the 2030 greenhouse gas emissions target as Canada’s Nationally Determined Contribution under the Paris Agreement. The Act requires the Minister of Environment and Climate Change to set the subsequent 2035, 2040 and 2045 targets at least 10 years in advance and develop a science-based emissions-reduction plan to achieve each target. Moving forward, the Government of Canada aims to deliver all policy and fiscal measures outlined in the Strengthened Climate Plan and, by the end of March 2022, bring forward the 2030 Emissions Reduction Plan. The plan will outline how Canada will reach its 2030 target of 40 to 45 per cent reductions from 2005 levels by 2030.

The Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act established a federal carbon pollution pricing system in 2 parts: a regulatory charge on fuel and a regulatory trading system for industry, the federal Output-Based Pricing System (OBPS). The federal OBPS is designed to ensure there is a price incentive for industrial emitters to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and spur innovation while maintaining competitiveness and protecting against “carbon leakage”. Approximately 90 per cent of proceeds go directly to Canadians through Climate Action Incentive payments.

The Federal Sustainable Development Act provides the legal framework for developing and implementing the Federal Sustainable Development Strategy (FSDS). The FSDS, brings the Government of Canada’s sustainability priorities, goals, targets and actions together in one place. Under the Act, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change must consult on and table a strategy and produce a progress report every 3 years.


Collaborative work is beginning on a National Adaptation Strategy for Canada. It will establish a shared vision for climate resilience, identify key priorities for increased collaboration and establish a framework for measuring progress at the national level. This will build on actions and experience to date from the:

Federal health organizations, including Health Canada, the Public Health Agency of Canada, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, and Indigenous Services Canada are working together, in collaboration with other levels of government and stakeholders, to address key impacts of climate change on health and the health system.

For example, Health Canada provides guidance to help reduce the health impacts of extreme weather events, such as floods. Health Canada is also supporting:

  • the expansion of heat alert and response systems across Canada
  • raising awareness of heat-related health risks among Canadians and health professionals through targeted promotional materials, guidance and publications

The Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund provides funding to increase structural or natural capacity to adapt to climate change impacts, natural disasters and/or extreme weather events.

The Government of Canada generates and collects critical data on climate change and cumulative effects.  This information is shared through platforms like the Earth Observation Data Management System (EODMS). This helps to plan climate change adaptations and to respond to climate related emergencies. 

Clean growth

The Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF) was launched to help withstand the economic and job impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on onshore and offshore oil and gas workers, and to help the sector reduce methane and other greenhouse gas emissions. The ERF supports decarbonizing oil and natural gas by deploying technologies and capital infrastructure and researching innovations in emissions-mitigating technologies.

Canada is developing a Carbon Capture, Utilization and Storage (CCUS) Strategy, including an Investment Tax Credit for CCUS. Canada is also funding research, development and demonstration projects to help advance the commercial viability of CCUS technologies in order to address hard-to-decarbonize segments of industrial emissions.

The Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC), helps Canadian companies develop and demonstrate new environmental technologies that address:

  • climate change
  • clean air
  • clean water
  • clean soil challenges

In May 2021, the Government of Canada launched the Sustainable Finance Action Council (SFAC).  The SFAC will help lead the Canadian financial sector towards integrating sustainable finance into standard industry practice. The SFAC will make recommendations on critical market infrastructure, with an initial focus will be on:

  • climate-related financial disclosure
  • green and transition investment standards
  • climate data for the financial sector

What is Canada doing to support climate action abroad

The federal government is making a valuable contribution to international action on climate change and working with partners in lower-income countries to support their own achievements.

Canada plays an active and constructive role in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Canada was also a strong voice in the negotiations towards the establishment of the Paris Agreement in 2015. Canada’s actions to address climate change at home and abroad are guided by the Paris Agreement goal of holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels, and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C.

Canada is delivering on its international climate finance commitments to support developing countries in their transitions to low-carbon and climate-resilient economies.  In June 2021, at the Carbis Bay G7 summit, Canada doubled its climate finance commitment to $5.3 billion over the next 5 years, including increased support for adaptation, as well as nature and nature-based solutions in line with the G7 Nature Compact.

Canada is advancing global work on nature-based climate solutions through actions such as the Ocean Risk and Resilience Action Alliance.

Canada is also a strong supporter of the Montreal Protocol. The Montreal Protocol is the Multilateral Environmental Agreement that has achieved the highest greenhouse gas emissions reductions to date. It stands to avoid up to 0.4 degrees Celsius in warming by 2100 through the implementation of its Kigali Amendment on the phase-down aof hydrofluorocarbons.

Moving forward, Canada will champion the adoption of a global minimum standard on carbon pricing.

Canada has many other internationally-focused climate change-related initiatives. Those are described under the SDGs that they most directly support.

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