Canada’s Climate Actions for a Healthy Environment and a Healthy Economy


Climate change, and the threat it poses for our environment, the planet’s biological diversity, our food security and our community health, has been increasingly well understood for more than 2 decades. Less well understood has been the question of how we can collectively find solutions and correct course.

Can we? Should we? Will we? Are we?

Canada is committed to reducing its emissions by 40 to 45% below 2005 levels by 2030. And to achieving net-zero by 2050. This is exactly what science tells us we must do.

After more than a year of dealing with the pandemic, countries around the world are taking the opportunity to build back in a way that addresses climate change and delivers a stronger economy in a low-carbon world. Canada and Canadians stand to gain – both from the environmental benefits of climate action to a country that’s warming at twice the global average, and from the economic opportunity to mobilize Canada’s skilled workers, natural resources and fast-growing tech sector in the accelerating clean growth transition.

We can, we should, we will and we are.

I see it in places like in the Laurentians region of Québec, where Lion Electric is expanding its manufacturing plant to build more zero-emission buses.

In Estevan, Saskatchewan, where Covenant Energy is looking to build a renewable diesel facility, while recycling the hydrogen that is produced in the process.

I see it in Halifax, where CarbonCure Technologies is earning international accolades – and contracts – for its technology that injects carbon dioxide into fresh concrete.

In Alberta, where ATCO and Suncor recently announced their intention to partner and deliver a hydrogen project that would produce more than 300,000 tonnes of hydrogen per year - reducing emissions in Alberta that are equivalent to taking 450,000 cars off the road per year.

It’s happening in Ingersoll, Ontario, where GM is investing $1 billion to switch over its plant to build electric delivery vehicles instead of gasoline-powered SUVs.

And I see it at home in Vancouver, where the world’s tallest timber building, at 18 stories, now rises on the University of British Columbia campus.

Necessity is the mother of invention, and the global transition to a zero-emission economy is underway. The biggest investors in the world are going green and major corporations committing to net-zero. The winners will attract more investment, create more jobs, and enjoy healthier communities. To capitalize, the Government of Canada continues to make historic investments in clean growth and climate action, with approximately $100 billion in commitments since 2016.

This document presents an update on actions taken to support clean growth across Canada. It serves as both an affirmation that the job is underway, and a call to action to see it through.

The investments and decisions we make today will create an environmentally sustainable future and economic opportunity for our children and grandchildren.

The Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Environment and Climate Change


Clean Energy Canada report

On June 17, 2021, Clean Energy Canada released "New Reality,” an assessment of economic growth from Canada’s climate plan. It found that by 2030, the number of jobs in clean energy is expected to grow almost 50% to 639,200 and the sector’s GDP is forecast to grow by 58% in the same timeframe under the government’s plan.

Since the release of Canada’s strengthened climate plan, A Healthy Environment and a Healthy Economy in December 2020, the Government of Canada moved swiftly to implement key aspects of the plan in order to create jobs, grow the economy and protect the planet. This document provides an overview of climate actions taken in Canada, with a focus on those since December 2020. As committed in the plan, a refined way forward on pricing carbon is also included.

Over the past 5 years, Canada has taken significant and urgent action to address the climate crisis. Canada is phasing out traditional coal-fired power plants and embracing renewable energy. It is investing in Made-in-Canada technologies and clean solutions. It is improving building codes and standards so homes and buildings use less energy. It is supporting cleaner alternatives to diesel in rural, remote, and Indigenous communities.

The Government of Canada is raising standards so cars run on cleaner fuels and cost less to operate. It is protecting 25% of the country’s natural spaces by 2025 and 30% by 2030. It is putting a price on carbon so it’s no longer free to pollute while returning the revenue back to households. With these actions and investments, we have begun to bend the curve on Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, in the absence of our climate plan, the country’s emissions would have been 34 million tonnes (MTs) higher in 2019.

Fully implementing Canada’s plans is required to reduce emissions in line with what science says is needed and to ensure Canada is well-positioned to take advantage of the significant economic opportunities associated with a growing low-carbon global economy.

The world is evolving, and Canada is evolving with it, to seize the opportunities of a cleaner, low-carbon future. Canadians want to be at the forefront, and the Government of Canada will continue to work with all Canadians to drive down emissions and to create economic opportunity in all regions of the country.

Canada’s enhanced nationally determined contribution

Under the Paris Agreement, countries are required to submit national greenhouse gas emission reduction targets, called Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), every 5 years. Each successive NDC is required to be more ambitious than the previous one. In April 2021, Canada announced its new NDC of achieving a 40 to 45% reduction below 2005 levels by 2030.

This new and ambitious goal is consistent with the results of a survey of Canadians’ perspectives on what Canada’s new target should be – wherein the vast majority of respondents called for increased climate ambition for 2030. Canada’s enhanced NDC Submission reflects input received from provincial and territorial governments, as well as from First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples. Canada is among the first countries to include substantive input from subnational bodies and Indigenous peoples into the NDC Submission to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Moving forward, the Government of Canada will continue to work with provinces, territories, Indigenous peoples, civil society, industry, and other partners to advance shared priorities that will further lower emissions and grow the economy.

Measuring progress

Projected Canadian greenhouse gases emissions in 2030
Long description

Bar chart titled Projected Canadian GHG emissions in 2030 based on a scale of 0 to 900 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent, showing 5 different columns. A dotted line stretches over the chart representing the 2005 GHG emission level set at 730 million tonnes.

The first column, set at 815 million tonnes, represents the period before Canada’s Climate Plans, which is 12% above the 2005 GHG emission level of 730 million tonnes.

The second column, set at 588 million tonnes, represents the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change; there is a reduction of 19% from the 2005 GHG emission level.

The third column, set at 503 million tonnes, represents the Pan-Canadian Framework and Strengthened Climate Plan, which would take the 2005 GHG emission level down to 503 million tonnes, a reduction of 31%.

The fourth column, set at 468 million tonnes, represents the Budget 2021 and additional actions including continued alignment with U.S. on transportation and methane emissions reduction, which would reduce the 2005 GHG emission level by 36%.

The fifth and final column, set at a range of 401 to 438 million tonnes, represents Canada’s new 2021 Nationally Determined Contribution for 2030, which would reduce 2005 GHG emission level by 40 to 45%.

Continually raising our climate and economic ambition and actions, since 2015, has put Canada on a path to significantly reduce emissions. Canada’s emissions were on a steady upwards climb projected to increase 12% above 2005 levels by 2030.

Canada’s first-ever national climate plan, Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change, was adopted in 2016 and is doing significantly more to cut carbon pollution in a practical and affordable way than any other plan in Canada’s history.

In December 2020, the Government of Canada introduced a strengthened climate plan – A Healthy Environment and a Healthy Economy—which provided a detailed pathway and very specific initiatives that would reduce emissions 31% below 2005 levels by 2030—meaning Canada would not just meet but exceed its target at the time (which was 30% below 2005).

Significant investments in fighting climate change were made in Budget 2021 to address emissions from heavy industry and from buildings. Concurrently, Canada and the United States have worked together under an environmental and climate partnership to identify key areas in which joint work could accelerate environmental and economic progress. Taken together, these actions have provided a defined pathway to go beyond 31% reduction to achieving a 36% reduction below 2005 levels by 2030.

Government of Canada investments in climate action and clean growth

The Government of Canada has invested over $100 billion toward climate action and clean growth since 2015, with roughly $60 billion from 2015 to 2019 and $53.6 billion towards Canada’s green recovery since October 2020.

Recently, the Government of Canada – alongside other members of the G7 – established a new target, one that is both ambitious yet attainable. This target, of achieving reductions of 40 to 45% range by 2030, is in line with what scientific and economic analyses show must be done if we are to achieve a prosperous net-zero future by 2050.

With less than a decade left to 2030, and with countries around the world quickly moving to a cleaner economy, Canada’s new target is required and reflects both the scale of the climate crisis and economic opportunity that climate action presents.

Making the places we live and gather more affordable by cutting energy waste

Homes and buildings account for 18% of Canada’s emissions and there are more than 285,000 workers in Canada at present that conduct energy efficiency-related work in the construction industry from installation to contracting. Making Canada’s building sector more energy efficient will cut pollution, save households and businesses money on energy costs and create jobs in all parts of the country and sectors of the economy.

Home energy retrofits

Improving the energy efficiency of our homes makes them more comfortable, while lowering monthly energy costs for homeowners and renters.

Since the launch of Canada’s strengthened climate plan in December 2020, the Government of Canada has:

The actions listed above build on previous efforts including:

Municipal and community buildings

According to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, community centres, sports facilities and cultural spaces represent 28% of greenhouse gas emissions in municipally owned facilities, and there are thousands of these aging facilities across Canada. Upgrading and improving the energy efficiency of municipal and community buildings will save taxpayer dollars, cut pollution and create jobs.

Since the launch of Canada’s strengthened climate plan in December 2020, the Government of Canada has:

The actions listed above build on previous efforts including:

Commercial and large-scale building retrofits

In addition, the Canada Infrastructure Bank’s $2 billion target for green infrastructure, as part of its Growth Plan, will use innovative financing tools to work with public and commercial building owners on energy efficient retrofits.

Long-term infrastructure planning

Twenty-first century energy systems, public buildings, broadband networks, roadways, public transit, and natural spaces all contribute to Canada’s long-term economic productivity and prosperity. Smart, resilient public infrastructure projects also require careful planning.

Since the launch of Canada’s strengthened climate plan in December 2020, the Government of Canada has:

The actions listed above build on previous efforts including:

Making clean, affordable transportation and power available in every community

Investments in public transit networks

Better public transit helps people get around in faster, cleaner, and more affordable ways. Helping communities invest in zero-emission transit options ensures cleaner air for our kids, creates jobs and supports Canadian manufacturing.

Since the launch of Canada’s strengthened climate plan in December 2020, the Government of Canada has:

The actions listed above build on existing progress including:

Investing in public transit

Investments in public transit projects across Canada have helped build more than 240 kilometres of new public transit subway and light rail line, and purchase over 300 electric buses. 

Zero-emission buses and school buses

The Government of Canada is committed to purchasing 5,000 more zero-emission buses across the country.

Since the launch of Canada’s strengthened climate plan in December 2020, the Government of Canada has:

Canada’s zero-emission vehicle future

Since the launch of Canada’s strengthened climate plan in December 2020, the Government of Canada has:

Jobs in the electric vehicle industry

A recent report by Clean Energy Canada found that 184,000 workers are expected to be employed in the electric vehicle industry — a 26-fold increase over 2020 — much of which can be attributed to increasing adoption of electric vehicles.

The actions listed above build on previous efforts including:

Making electric vehicles (EVs) easier to use and afford

The government’s iZEV incentive has helped 92,000 people to date. The government’s investments in EV chargers and refuelling stations have supported the installation of more than 16,500 EV chargers, 15 hydrogen stations, and 21 natural gas stations, with many more chargers and stations to come.

Promoting active transportation

Pathways and trails for cycling, walking, hybrid e-bikes and scooters, and wheelchairs give everyone the opportunity to get out, get active, and access public transportation.

Since the launch of Canada’s strengthened climate plan in December 2020, the Government of Canada has:

The actions listed above build on previous efforts including:

Making Canada a leader in clean power

Canada’s electricity grid is over 80% emissions-free—one of the cleanest in the world—and is on track to meet its goal of having 90% non-emitting electricity generation by 2030. Continued action is needed for the environment, for the economy, and for peoples’ health.

Since the launch of Canada’s strengthened climate plan in December 2020, the Government of Canada has:

The actions listed above build on previous efforts including:

Renewable energy growth in Alberta

A report by the Canada Energy Regulator from March 2021 found that Alberta is expected to see the fastest growth in renewable energy capacity between 2018 and 2023, as new wind and solar projects help replace coal-fired electricity. By 2023, 26% of Alberta’s electricity capacity will come from renewable sources, up from 16% in 2017. And as Alberta updates its electricity grid, a report by Clean Energy Canada found that the province is on track to see a surge in wind power jobs (a 22% increase per year).

Continuing to ensure pollution isn’t free and households can get more money back

Carbon pricing in Canada

Putting a price on pollution reduces emissions and encourages innovation. Canada has proven that this can be done in a manner that keeps life affordable. Canada’s leadership on carbon pricing has been recognized internationally, including by the International Monetary Fund which recently stated that “carbon pricing is the most efficient mitigation instrument and success in Canada provides a model for others.”

Since 2019, the Government has ensured it is no longer free to pollute by establishing a national minimum price on pollution starting at $20 per tonne in 2019, increasing at $10 per tonne annually to $50 in 2022.

The Government’s approach to pricing carbon pollution gives provinces and territories the flexibility to implement the type of system that makes sense for their circumstances as long as they align with minimum national stringency standards, or ‘benchmark’ criteria.

In provinces where it applies, the federal carbon pricing system returns all direct proceeds from the fuel charge to those living in the relevant province or territory. These funds are returned to individuals, communities, and businesses. Approximately 90% goes directly to people when they file their taxes through the Canada Carbon rebate (CCR) (formerly known as Climate Action Incentive Payment), with the majority of families receiving more money back than they pay. In 2020, the Parliamentary Budget Officer confirmed that Canada’s approach supports low and medium-income families the most.

Supreme Court decision on carbon pricing

On March 25, 2021, the Supreme Court of Canada found that carbon pollution knows no boundaries and that Parliament has the authority to address it by applying a price on carbon pollution in jurisdictions that do not have their own system that meets minimum national stringency standards. “All parties to this proceeding agree that climate change is an existential challenge. It is a threat of the highest order to the country, and indeed to the world... The undisputed existence of a threat to the future of humanity cannot be ignored,” […] [Carbon pricing] is critical to our response to an existential threat to human life in Canada and around the world” reads the majority decision. Canada’s case for carbon pricing was supported at the Supreme Court by a diverse group of intervenors including labour groups, Indigenous peoples, provinces, environmental organizations and youth.

Carbon pricing trajectory from 2023 to 2030

In order to accelerate the market adoption of the technologies and practices needed to reduce emissions and to build a prosperous low carbon economy, Canada proposed in A Healthy Environment and a Healthy Economy to increase the price on pollution annually at a rate of $15 per tonne from 2023-2030.

In this context, the government narrowed the scope of the Clean Fuel Standard to cover only liquid fossil fuels. Given that these are used mainly in transportation, the Clean Fuel Standard will not include a regulatory obligation for heavy and light oil (which are predominantly used in stationary applications) and distillate fuel oils used in space heating. This will help address affordability concerns in areas that presently rely heavily on home heating oil.

Following engagement with provincial and territorial partners and Indigenous leaders, the government is confirming its proposal that the minimum price on carbon pollution will increase by $15 per tonne each year starting in 2023 through to 2030. Canadians living in jurisdictions where the federal system applies, and where the federal government returns fuel charge proceeds through the CCR, will continue to receive rebates that increase each year as the carbon price increases.

More consistency, certainty and fairness

The initial carbon price and its trajectory up to 2022 was set in 2016. The pan-Canadian approach to pricing carbon pollution also established the design criteria that all pricing systems in Canada need to meet.

In 2020-21, a review of carbon pricing systems in Canada was undertaken. This included an independent expert assessment, led by the Canadian Institute for Climate Choices, which found there are significant variations in the stringency and effectiveness of the different systems across Canada. The results of this assessment support that while carbon pricing can be a key driver of emissions reductions, changes in how systems presently operate are necessary to ensure all such systems across the country are similarly effective in cutting pollution and supporting domestic competitiveness.

As Canada looks to significantly reduce emissions and to incent innovation it is important that longer term certainty is provided with respect to how pollution pricing will work going forward. Beyond simply the rate at which the price will rise, it is also important that the “benchmark” criteria for all systems are updated to ensure all systems across Canada will be comparable in terms of stringency and effectiveness.

The new criteria that will apply to all systems starting in 2023 will include a requirement that all provincial and territorial systems cover the same portion of emissions as would be covered by the federal system or “backstop”. The new criteria will also require that provincial and territorial systems and other government measures don’t weaken the price signal - for example by reducing fuel taxes specifically to offset increased carbon prices.

The new “benchmark” criteria are summarized here in more detail, and the full text of the new benchmark will be published later this month.

Presently, the government conducts an annual assessment of provincial and territorial carbon pricing systems against the minimum national stringency standards. Next year, the government will move to multi-year assessments, requiring jurisdictions to propose carbon pricing systems for 2023 that align with Canada’s future benchmark requirements through to 2030 – rather than once a year – which means systems will change less frequently. This will provide greater certainty and stability for consumers, businesses and investors.

To provide further stability, where the federal backstop system currently applies, the earliest any new proposed system will be able to replace it will be January 2023. Existing provincial and territorial systems and the new output-based pricing systems slated for implementation in New Brunswick and Ontario can continue to apply in 2022 and beyond so long as they meet the benchmark criteria.

It is estimated that pricing will contribute over a third of the total reductions that will occur between now and 2030. However, about three-quarters of these reductions would not occur unless all pricing systems in Canada become more stringent in accordance with this updated benchmark criteria.

A national offset system

Canada is also creating an offset system to create opportunities for foresters, farmers, Indigenous communities and other project developers who implement innovative projects to reduce carbon pollution.

On March 5, 2021, the Government announced draft regulations to establish the Federal Greenhouse Gas Offset System. The system is a market-based approach that will spur innovation and private-sector investment in economic activities that lead to further emissions reductions, while helping to keep Canadian industry competitive.

Returning the proceeds of carbon pricing to Canadians

In jurisdictions where the federal backstop system has applied because a province or territory (PT) has chosen not to implement its own system or request the federal system, the federal government has returned the majority of fuel charge proceeds to households. This will continue to be the case going forward.

This year, a family of 4 received $600 in Ontario, $720 in Manitoba, $1,000 in Saskatchewan and $981 in Alberta. Beginning in 2022, these payments will change from a refundable credit claimed annually on personal income tax returns to quarterly payments made through a benefit system.

The Government is also developing and implementing new programs to better support Indigenous groups, small and medium-sized enterprises, and farmers with the remaining approximately 10% of the proceeds. Farmers already receive targeted relief under Canada’s carbon pricing system. For example, the federal fuel charge does not apply to gasoline and diesel used in tractors, trucks and other machinery used on-farm.

Recognizing that many farmers also use natural gas and propane in their operations, the Government confirmed in Budget 2021 that it will return a portion of the proceeds from the price on pollution directly to farmers in backstop jurisdictions, beginning in 2021-22. It is estimated farmers would receive $100 million in the first year. Further details will be announced later in 2021 by the Minister of Finance.

Small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) are a major employer across Canada providing essential goods and services for Canadians. A number of SMEs are exposed, directly or indirectly, to international markets where goods and services may not be subject to carbon pollution pricing. In order to help these businesses be more competitive, a dedicated portion of the carbon price revenue (in jurisdictions using the backstop) will be delivered through a program to trade exposed SMEs and will share more information on program design in due course.

As of 2020-21, Canada has tripled the net fuel charge proceeds available to Indigenous governments in federal backstop jurisdictions. These proceeds will be returned through co-developed solutions.

Proceeds from the federal pricing system for trade exposed industries – the Output-Based Pricing System – will be returned to the jurisdiction of origin through new programs to support industrial decarbonisation projects and greening the electricity sector. Projects could include things like helping households transition away from home heating oil. More details will be released in fall 2021.

Guidance for returning carbon pollution pricing proceeds to support Canadians and drive climate ambition

Carbon pricing pollution systems may be designed in a number of different ways. The Government of Canada’s approach is one that keeps affordability at the centre of its policy.

Provincial and territorial governments that request the federal system or that implement their own systems have the ability to utilize proceeds as they see fit. An important consideration for all jurisdictions is making sure the carbon price doesn’t negatively affect vulnerable households, businesses and Indigenous communities. To support these considerations and to better inform decision-making, the Government of Canada has developed and shared a guidance document with provinces and territories entitled Guidance for Using Carbon Pollution Pricing Proceeds to Support Canadians and Drive Climate Ambition.

The guide outlines approaches for returning proceeds to support affordability for low-income, vulnerable populations and Indigenous peoples while maintaining the carbon price signal required to reduce the emissions. It also provides advice about options to return proceeds that help address impacts on business competitiveness.

Maintaining international business competitiveness

With the goal of addressing carbon leakage risks and protecting Canadian businesses from unfair competition resulting from firms not subject to carbon pricing, Canada is also:

Building and securing Canada’s clean industrial advantage

Canada’s industrial advantage, and the jobs that will come from seizing it, will depend on the speed and success of decarbonisation efforts. In order to achieve the country’s full potential and get to a prosperous net-zero emissions future by 2050, the Government of Canada is helping Canadian companies meet the demands of consumers for low and zero-carbon goods and services through investments, regulations and other measures.

Supporting businesses to transition to clean technology

The world is taking notice of Canada's leadership in clean technology – 11 Canadian companies, 9 of which have been funded by Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC), were recently placed on the 2021 Global Cleantech 100 list. Clean technology companies currently employ more than 341,000 Canadians in rewarding, well-paying jobs. The environmental and clean tech sector grew at 25% from 2012 to 2019, outpacing the overall Canadian economy, which grew at 16% over the same period.

Since the launch of Canada’s strengthened climate plan in December 2020, the Government of Canada has:

Government of Canada investments in clean technology have totaled more than $3 billion since 2016.

The actions listed above build on previous efforts including:

Achieving net-zero emissions

Since the launch of Canada’s strengthened climate plan in December 2020, the Government of Canada has:

Pathways to net-zero

In February 2021, the independent Canadian Institute for Climate Choices released a report on the various pathways Canada could take to achieve net-zero by 2050. Under every scenario examined, the proportion households spend on energy, including home heating, electricity, and transportation, declines for all income groups. The report argues that if managed effectively, the transition to net-zero could improve the well-being of Canadians.

Net-Zero Accelerator Fund

Helping heavy industry decarbonize is a key priority of the Government of Canada. This will help ensure that Canadian businesses remain competitive by producing the zero and low-carbon goods the world wants to buy now and into the future. Supporting businesses in key sectors to transform — from steel and aluminium to cement— accelerates the adoption of clean technology, helps spur Canada’s shift to innovative technologies, and attracts large-scale investments.

Since the launch of Canada’s strengthened climate plan in December 2020, the Government of Canada has:

The actions listed above build on previous efforts including:

Moving to cleaner fuels

Clean fuels will play an essential role in Canada’s path to net-zero. Thanks to our vast conventional energy resources and biomass feedstocks, clean electricity grid, and our pace-setting clean technology sector, Canada is well-positioned to be a producer of the cleanfuels that consumers are demanding and investors are rewarding domestically and internationally.

Since the launch of Canada’s strengthened climate plan in December 2020, the Government of Canada has:

Developing a vibrant biofuels and hydrogen market in Canada

ATCO and Suncor recently announced their intention to partner and deliver a hydrogen project that would produce more than 300,000 tonnes of hydrogen per year and capture 90% of the emissions generated in the hydrogen production process. The project will reduce emissions in Alberta by more than 2 million tonnes per year, equivalent to taking 450,000 cars off the road per year.

Covenant Energy in Saskatchewan recently announced its intention to turn canola into renewable diesel and sustainable aviation fuel, citing the Clean Fuel Standard in their press release as a primary economic project driver. This initiative could result in up to 60 permanent full-time positions plus hundreds of thousands of hours of employment throughout the project construction.

Carbon capture, utilization and storage

Carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS) is a promising technology needing to lower its costs before it can be fully commercialized. The International Energy Agency suggests that CCUS could account for about 20% of the global GHG reductions needed by 2050.

Since the launch of Canada’s strengthened climate plan in December 2020, the Government of Canada has:

Canada’s Carbon Capture, Utilization and Storage (CCUS) opportunity

A report from RBC Economics found that the latest climate priorities in the United States could spark investments in carbon capture technologies, with CCUS markets potentially worth $12 billion per year in Canada.

Supporting agricultural solutions

Farmers are on the frontlines of climate change and are key partners in the fight against it.

Since the launch of Canada’s strengthened climate plan in December 2020, the Government of Canada has:

Clean technology in the agricultural sector

The Agricultural Clean Technology Program (ACT) program will help support projects such as at Winecrush Technology, an Okanagan-based agri-tech company that received up to $124,800 under the original Agricultural Clean Technology program, for their new biomechanical process that transforms the discarded derivatives from making wine and turning them into natural food additives, thereby reducing the GHGs emissions generated by food waste that goes to landfills.

The actions listed above build on previous efforts including:

Access to critical minerals: a competitive advantage

Demand for critical minerals to support the transition to the clean economy is increasing. Canada can leverage its mining and processing expertise to become the global supplier of choice for clean and advanced technologies.

Since the launch of Canada’s strengthened climate plan in December 2020, the Government of Canada has:

Canada’s competitive advantage

Canada is one of the few countries in the western hemisphere that has reserves of all the minerals required to produce advanced batteries for electric vehicles, and 14 of the 19 metals and minerals required to produce solar panels are found or produced in Canada.

Supporting workers to succeed in a low carbon economy

As industries transition to a low carbon economy, workers will also need to be supported to take advantage of new job opportunities Canada’s workers have the skills, ingenuity, and determination to build Canada’s net-zero future. Canada is committed to building this future in a way that leaves no one behind.

Since the launch of Canada’s strengthened climate plan in December 2020, the Government of Canada has:

The Government also remains committed to developing just transition legislation that will be informed by consultations. The legislation will guide the Government’s ongoing efforts to supporting workers and communities in the transition to a low carbon economy.

Among other initiatives, Canada’s actions have included:

Factoring climate risk into decision making

In order to ensure a stable and predictable transition to a low-carbon economy, markets, insurers, policy makers, and Canadians need standardized information about the risks and opportunities associated with climate change.

Since the launch of Canada’s strengthened climate plan in December 2020, the Government of Canada has:

The actions listed above build on existing efforts including:

Taken together, these measures are intended to help accelerate the flow of capital to investments needed for a sustainable economy.

Embracing the power of nature to support healthier families and more resilient communities

Nature-based climate solutions embrace the power of nature to mitigate and adapt to our changing climate. Forests, wetlands, grasslands, and farmlands have the ability to absorb and store large amounts of carbon (CO2), reduce the effects of climate change, keep our air and water clean, and provide habitat for wildlife.

The power of nature-based climate solutions

A recent study by Nature United found that actions targeting forests, grasslands, farmlands and wetlands could help Canada cut its emissions by 78 million tonnes annually in 2030 – an amount equivalent to more than a tenth of Canada’s current annual emissions.

Funding to support nature-based climate solutions

To fully embrace the power of nature to fight climate change, the Government of Canada established the Natural Climate Solutions Fund (NCSF), which will invest $4 billion over the next 10 years towards planting 2 billion trees and restoring, managing and conserving Canada’s natural and managed ecosystems.

Since the launch of Canada’s strengthened climate plan in December 2020, the Government of Canada has:

The actions listed above build on previous efforts including:

Protecting and conserving nature

Canada started the last decade with 9.6% of land and freshwater and 0.8% of ocean territory protected. 10 years later, 13.1% of Canada’s land and freshwater and 13.8% of its ocean are in protected areas and other effective area-based conservation measures. Canada’s marine protected areas system has increased in size more than ten-fold since 2010. In tandem with the Government’s efforts to restore nature, the Government of Canada is also taking action to protect it.

Since the launch of Canada’s strengthened climate plan in December 2020, the Government of Canada has:

Indigenous Guardians

“Guardians programs transform lives and communities. Reconnecting with culture, healing from trauma and feeling pride in identity—all of it is rooted in our relationship with the land and our cultural responsibility to look after it. Guardians are on the ground, sustaining these values.” – Valérie Courtois, Director, Indigenous Leadership Initiative.

The actions listed above build on previous efforts including:

Providing $1.3 billion in Budget 2018 for nature conservation, which leveraged additional funding from private and philanthropic sources, to create protected areas on provincial, territorial, municipal, and Indigenous managed lands.

Figure 1

Figure 1. Terrestrial and marine protected areas and OECMs in Canada as of December 2020

Data sources: Conservation Areas Reporting and Tracking System (CARTS) (2010), Canadian Protected and Conserved areas Database (CPCAD), and Registre des aires protégées au Québec (2021)

Long description

Figure 1 titled Terrestrial and marine protected areas and OECMs in Canada as of December 2020 shows a bar chart with a scale of 0% to 16% indicating the amount of protected area. The 4 columns are displayed as green and topped-off with orange; they show the Terrestrial and Marine protected area levels in 2010 and 2020. The green represents the protected areas, and the orange represents the other effective area-based conservation measures (OECMs).

The first column, representing the amount of terrestrial area protected in 2010, is set at 9.5%. The second column shows the amount of terrestrial area protected in 2020 with the addition of the OECMs, which brings it up to 13.1%.

The third column, set at 0.8%, shows the amount of marine area protected in 2010. The fourth and final column shows the amount of marine area protected in 2020 with the addition of the OECMs, which increases the level to 13.8%.

Figure 2
Figure 2. Increase in Canada’s marine protected areas and OECM coverage (km2) from 2010 to 2020
Long description

Figure 2 is a line chart titled Increase in Canada’s marine protected areas and OECM coverage (km2) from 2010 to 2020. The Y-axis ranges from 25,000 to 825,000 square kilometres of protected area, while the X-axis scale starts at 2010 and ends at 2020.

The chart shows that from 2010 to 2016, the amount of protected area in square kilometres is set at 25,000. From 2016 to 2017, it increases to 425,000 km2 of protected area. In 2018, it increases again to nearly 825,000 km2 and stays at the same level until 2020.

Figure 3
Figure 3. Canada’s terrestrial protected areas and OECM coverage (km2) from 2010 to 2020

Figures adapted from Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS), 2021.
The Grades Are In: A Report Card on Canada’s Progress in Protecting Its Land and Ocean

Long description

Figure 3 is a line chart titled Increase in Canada’s terrestrial protected areas and OECM coverage (km2) from 2010 to 2020. The Y-axis ranges from 900,000 to 1,400,000 square kilometres of protected area, while the X-axis scale starts at 2010 and ends at 2020.

The chart shows that from 2010 to 2017 the amount of terrestrial protected area in square kilometres remains around 1,000,000 km2. From 2017 to 2020, a gradual increase brings the amount of protected area to levels slightly above 1,300,000 km2.

Beating plastic pollution

Plastics litter our beaches, parks, streets, and shorelines. Their harmful impacts on nature and wildlife must be addressed.

Since the launch of Canada’s strengthened climate plan in December 2020, the Government of Canada has:

The actions listed above build on previous efforts including:

Plastic innovation challenge

With the support of funding from the plastics innovation challenge, Axipolymer Inc., based in Montreal, will create a recyclable multi-layer film that can be used for food packaging, GreenMantra Technologies from Brantford, will transform polystyrene insulation waste into new insulation, and MgO Systems from Calgary will use PVC waste from construction to produce new insulating materials.

Creating resilience in Canada

Climate change adaptation

Canada’s climate is warming approximately twice as fast as the global average, and more than 3 times the global average in Northern Canada. The impacts of climate change – from flooding to coastal erosion, dangerous heatwaves and wildfire – pose a threat to Canadians’ health, wealth, and safety.

It also puts Canada’s infrastructure at significant risk, generating economic costs that must be shouldered by Canadians. For example, over the past 10 years, the average annual insurance payouts related to extreme weather in Canada have more than quadrupled to $1.8 billion. The uninsured losses are even higher – approximately 3 to 4 times that amount.

While the Government of Canada moves forward with unprecedented investments in climate change mitigation, we have also accelerated efforts to address climate change adaptation across the country.

Since the launch of Canada’s Strengthened Climate Plan in December 2020, the Government of Canada has:

The actions listed above build on previous efforts including:

Rehabilitating city shorelines

Through the Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund, the Government of Canada is supporting a project in Montreal to rehabilitate and secure 10 km of city shoreline using bioengineering-inspired techniques, such as planting shrubs and vegetation. This will help manage the impacts of erosion and protect shoreline ecosystems and communities. The work targets 5 major parks: the Cap-Saint-Jacques and Bois-de-l'Île-Bizard areas of Grand parc de l'Ouest; the Île-de-la-Visitation nature park; Parc de la Promenade-Bellerive; René-Lévesque park; and the former Lachine pleasure boating port.

Using data to drive adaptation decisions

Successful adaptation planning requires robust, decision-useful climate change data – and then integrating this data into decision-making. In addition to establishing the Canadian Centre for Climate Services, the Government has led a series of national assessment reports – Canada in a Changing Climate – to provide an up-to-date synthesis of knowledge of how climate change risks affect the country.

To support this data-driven approach, the following measures have been taken:

Canada’s partnership with Indigenous peoples

The Government recognizes that Indigenous climate leadership must be a cornerstone of Canada’s climate actions and is partnering with First Nations, Inuit and Métis to set an agenda for climate action and a framework for collaboration.

Since the release of Canada’s strengthened climate plan in December 2020, the Government of Canada has:

In 2016, the Prime Minister along with the leaders of the Assembly of First Nations, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami and the Métis National Council established 3 distinct, senior-level bilateral tables to support self-determination and enable Indigenous-led climate solutions.

The partnerships built through the bilateral tables have led to:

Investing in Cowessess First Nation

Cowessess First Nation in Saskatchewan is a leader in the clean energy transition. By installing solar panels on 5 of its community-owned buildings with the support of $633,000 in funding from the Government of Canada’s Low Carbon Economy Fund, Cowessess First Nation will see a cumulative reduction of about 6,500 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions - equivalent to taking approximately 2,000 cars off the road for 1 year. With an additional $5.2 million from the Investing in Canada fund, the First Nation is building the Awasis solar panel grid, which will contribute 10 megawatts – enough to power approximately 10,000 homes – to the provincial power grid.

Supporting communities to clean energy sources

There are 292 remote communities and industrial sites across Canada that are not connected to the North American grid. Almost 200 of these are communities that rely completely on diesel for heat and power and collectively consume over 680 million litres of diesel per year. The vast majority of the diesel reliant communities are Indigenous, or have significant Indigenous populations. The Government is taking action to help communities move off diesel and onto cleaner sources of energy – which has health, climate and job creation benefits.

Since the launch of Canada’s strengthened climate plan in December 2020, the Government of Canada has:

The actions listed above build on previous efforts including:

Indigenous leadership in land conservation

Indigenous peoples and their ancestors have long been stewards and managers of the land and waters, and leaders in ecosystem conservation in Canada. Indigenous peoples have consistently been responsible for much of the progress that Canada has made since 2015 in land conversation.

Since the launch of Canada’s strengthened climate plan in December 2020, the Government of Canada has:

The actions listed above build on previous efforts including:

Indigenous leadership in protecting lands

The Edéhzhíe Protected Area, a co-managed partnership between the Dehcho First Nations and the Government of Canada, was the first of 4 Indigenous protected and conserved areas established under the Government of Canada’s Canada Nature Fund. Edéhzhíe is an important area for flora and fauna, as well as a spiritual gathering place for Dehcho and Tłichô Dene with at least 73 vascular plant families, representing 537 species.

Demonstrating international leadership

Climate change is a global challenge that requires global solutions and Canada occupies a unique position in this challenge. As an Arctic nation that is warming at twice the rate of the rest of the world, we understand the importance of ambitious collaboration. We are also both an advanced economy with emissions that we must bring down and a country that is biodiversity rich but still enjoys large wild spaces containing intact ecosystems and large carbon stores.

Canada has a responsibility to take a leadership role through bold action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to address declines in biodiversity, and Canada is taking action.

Supporting ambitious climate action abroad to achieve a net-zero and nature positive world

Under the Paris Agreement, 2020 was meant to be a year of collective action and ambition. The COVID-19 pandemic changed this as governments reoriented themselves to pandemic response and prioritized actions required to protect their citizens.

However, as the world looks to emerge from the pandemic, Canada is part of a growing consensus that the world must build back in a manner that addresses critical environmental concerns and ensures a sustainable future for the planet.

Since the launch of Canada’s strengthened climate plan in December 2020, the Government of Canada has:

Advancing the climate agenda

In addition to enhancing our own targets and climate finance internationally, Canada has also led initiatives to galvanize international climate action.

Among other initiatives, Canada’s actions have included:

Canadian leadership on pricing carbon

Recent analysis by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) shows that, if the G20 adopted even half of the incremental carbon pricing policies that Canada has committed to, they would nearly triple their emissions reduction pledges under the Paris Agreement.

Supporting nature-based solutions globally

The actions listed above build on previous efforts including:

Next steps

Like a high-speed camera shutter, this document takes a snapshot in time of the rapidly accelerating economic transition that is required to address climate change while ensuring the benefits accrue to every region of Canada. The picture will change again in a week, a month, a year from now. The transition to a cleaner, more sustainable yet prosperous economy is a priority that will require sustained effort over the years and decades ahead.

Canada’s new 2030 emissions target under the Paris climate agreement is an ambitious increase over the previous one. It is science-aligned and reflects both the scale of the challenge and of the economic opportunity ahead for Canadians.

The only way to achieve our 2030 goal and the longer term goal of net zero by 2050 is for Canada to keep innovating, strengthening, and building on existing measures. So while current measures and investments put us on a trajectory towards Canadians’ 2030 goal, we can’t stop here.

The past many months of pandemic have revealed a collective capacity for social reflection, science and policy innovation, and public investment that can and must be harnessed to meet the next great global crisis – a changing climate. Across the world, significant investments and economic transformation have taken place over the past 16 months that defied prediction.

Such energy and urgency must now be harnessed to drive Canada’s environmental ambition. And federal leadership is only part of Canada’s story. Many provinces have committed to deep greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets—for both 2030 and 2050—and we encourage all to commit to such goals and to develop comprehensive plans to reach these targets. Additional provincial and territorial measures can build on and supplement measures being taken by the federal government enabling Canada to collectively move even further and faster.

Decisions by investors and institutions in the private and financial sectors will also be critical to driving and accelerating reductions as companies move to capitalize on the growing demand for low-carbon products and services. Already more than 120 governments, 400 subnational governments and 1,000 corporations around the world have committed to net-zero targets by 2050, a trend that continues to gain momentum.

In a North American context, Canada now has ambitious partners at national and subnational levels - providing opportunities for regulatory harmonization on ambitious climate action which could also help advance emissions reductions as well as technology development and deployment.

The list of initiatives, actions and innovations neither begins nor ends here.

Canada’s comprehensive climate and nature plans and its Nationally Determined Contribution emissions target are not simply words on pages. They effectively represent a mission statement. A promise to the world, to all Canadians, and to Canada’s youth in particular that Canada is committed to ensuring that a carbon neutral, nature positive, sustainable and prosperous future remains very much within our power and our reach.

Page details

Date modified: