Complementary actions to reduce emissions

Overview

To reduce emissions, meaningful action will need to be taken across all regions and sectors of the economy. Many of the things that Canadians do every day—like driving cars and heating homes—produce GHG emissions. Many activities that drive economic growth in the country, like extracting natural resources, industrial and manufacturing activities, and transporting goods to customers, also produce emissions. The policies that help drive down emissions can also help the economy to keep growing by cutting costs for Canadians, creating new markets for low-emission goods and services, and helping businesses use cleaner and more efficient technologies that give them a leg up on international competitors.

Figure 1: Canada’s emissions by sector in 2014.

Figure 1: Canada’s emissions by sector in 2014
Long description

This pie graph shows greenhouse gas emissions in the year 2014 by economic sector in megatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent greenhouse gases. The percentage of total emissions for each sector is also indicated. The economic sectors are ranked from greatest to smallest share. Industry, including oil and gas, is the largest emitting sector at 269 megatonnes, or 37% of Canada’s total emissions in 2014.

Transportation is the second largest emitting sector at 171 megatonnes, or 23% of Canada’s total. The buildings sector is the third largest emitting sector at 87 megatonnes, or 12% of Canada’s total. The electricity sector is the fourth largest emitting sector at 78 megatonnes, or 11% of Canada’s total. Agriculture is the fifth largest emitting sector at 73 megatonnes, or 10% of Canada’s total. Finally, waste and other sectors account for the smallest share of emissions, at 54 megatonnes, or 7% of Canada’s total.

Federal, provincial, and territorial governments will work together to make sure new actions build on and complement existing plans, policies, programs, and regulations and reflect lessons learned from past experience. New policies will be designed to focus on GHG-emission outcomes and will recognize flexibility for regional differences, including through outcomes-based regulatory equivalency agreements. Indigenous Peoples will be involved in defining and developing policies to support clean energy in their communities.

In developing policies, a number of factors will be considered, including:

  • economic, environmental, and social impacts and benefits;
  • how individual policies will work with carbon pricing;
  • the need to consider and mitigate the impacts on emissions-intensive trade exposed sectors (e.g.,  resource sectors that are price takers on the global market), including the need to avoid carbon leakage;
  • co-benefits such as improved health due to air pollutant reductions, and jobs and business growth;
  • opportunities to realize near-term climate and health benefits through reducing emissions of short-lived climate pollutants; and,
  • benefits for ecosystems and biodiversity. 

Falling costs of renewable energy: Between 2010 and 2015, the costs for new utility-scale solar photovoltaic (PV) installations declined by two-thirds, while over the same period the cost of onshore wind fell by an estimated 30 percent on average (IEA, 2016)

Governments will be supporting the actions outlined in the Pan-Canadian Framework through policies and investments. Federal actions are described in Annex I, and provincial and territorial key actions and collaboration opportunities with the Government of Canada are described in Annex II.

Electricity

Canada already has one of the cleanest electricity systems in the world. About 80 percent of electricity production comes from non-emitting sources. While electricity emissions are going down in large part due to the move away from coal-fired power toward cleaner sources, electricity generation is still Canada’s fourth-largest source of GHG emissions.

Clean, non-emitting electricity systems will be the cornerstone of a modern, clean growth economy. Transformations to electricity systems will be supported by federal, provincial, and territorial governments, and, undertaken by utilities, private-sector players, and Indigenous Peoples.

The approach to electricity will include (1) increasing the amount of electricity generated from renewable and low-emitting sources; (2) connecting clean power with places that need it; (3) modernizing electricity systems; and (4) reducing reliance on diesel working with Indigenous Peoples and northern and remote communities.

Provinces and territories have already taken action on moving from traditional coal-fired generation to clean electricity. Ontario and Manitoba have already phased out their use of coal, Alberta has plans in place to phase out coal-fired electricity by 2030, Nova Scotia has created a regulatory framework to transition from coal to clean electricity generation, and Saskatchewan has a coal-fired generating unit with carbon capture technology, which captures 90 percent of emissions. New capacity will come from non-emitting sources—including hydro, wind, and solar—as well as natural gas. Energy efficiency and conservation will make added contributions to clean electricity systems.

Ontario’s coal phase-out: On April 15, 2014, Ontario became the first jurisdiction in North America to fully eliminate coal as a source of electricity generation. This action is the single largest GHG-reduction initiative in North America, eliminating more than 30 megatonnes of annual GHG emissions and equivalent to taking seven million vehicles off the road. On November 23, 2015, Ontario passed the Ending Coal for Cleaner Air Act, permanently banning coal-fired electricity generation in the province.

Saskatchewan’s Boundary Dam Integrated Carbon Capture and Storage Project: is the world’s first commercial-scale, coal-fired carbon capture, and storage electricity project, and it is able to capture and sequester up to 90 percent of its GHG emissions.

Wind power: Wind capacity in Canada grew 20 times between 2005 and 2015, and there is strong potential for further growth. For example, 4 wind farms in Prince Edward Island now generate almost 25 percent of the province’s electricity requirements.

Alberta’s coal phase-out: Alberta’s commitments to end emissions from coal-fired electricity and replace it with 30 percent renewable energy by 2030 are expected to achieve cumulative emission reductions of 67 Mt between now and 2030, and emissions in 2030 will be at least 14 Mt below what is forecast under the status quo. This reduction is the equivalent of taking 2.8 million cars off the road. This move will improve air quality and the health of Albertans and other Canadians. It will also ensure reliability, encourage private investment, and provide price stability for all Albertans.

Connecting clean power across Canada through stronger transmission-line interconnections will help reduce emissions and support the move away from coal. Many provinces already trade electricity across their borders, and there is potential to increase these flows, consistent with market rules and fair competition among electricity producers.

The Canadian Energy Strategy: Provinces and territories are already taking a cooperative approach toward sustainable energy development through the Canadian Energy Strategy, which was released by premiers in July 2015. As agreed under the Vancouver Declaration and building on the Quebec Summit on Climate Change in 2015, federal, provincial, and territorial energy ministers are collaborating on specific actions through the Canadian Energy Strategy, to contribute to the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change. Actions include energy conservation and efficiency, clean energy technology and innovation, and deployment of energy to people and global markets.

Modernizing electricity systems will involve expanding energy storage, updating infrastructure, and deploying smart-grid technologies to improve the reliability and stability of electric grids and to allow more renewable power to be added. As a leader in the development and deployment of innovative energy-storage solutions and smart-grid technology, Canadian clean technology producers stand to benefit from increased investments in our electricity systems.

Many Indigenous Peoples, as well as northern and remote communities in Canada rely on diesel fuel to produce electricity and heat. Opportunities exist for clean electricity infrastructure, distributed energy systems, renewable energy microgrids, as well as grid connections and hybrid systems, which will enhance well being, create local economic opportunities, and contribute to better air quality and a cleaner environment overall. Investing in clean energy solutions will advance the priorities of Indigenous Peoples, as well as northern and remote communities to transition away from diesel.

Colville Lake Solar Project – Colville Lake, Northwest Territories is located north of the Arctic Circle, and it is served with a winter road that is open just a couple of months each year. To reduce diesel use in this remote, off-grid community, a solar/diesel/battery hybrid electricity system has been installed. This system has allowed the diesel generators to be shut down for extended periods in the summer. This innovative energy solution has reduced diesel use and related emissions by 20-25 percent per year.

Taking these actions will have a number of benefits beyond reducing GHG emissions. Phasing out coal and reducing the use of diesel will reduce harmful air pollutants, which have significant implications for human health and associated health-care costs. Designing and building clean-power technologies and transmission lines represents major economic opportunities for Canada. Increasing the amount of clean and renewable electricity sold to the United States could also bring new revenue to utilities and provinces, respecting open-access rules under the authority of the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

New actions

1. Increasing renewable and non-emitting energy sources

Federal, provincial, and territorial governments will work together to accelerate the phase out of traditional coal units across Canada, by 2030, as recently announced by the federal government (see Annex I) and to build on provincial and territorial leadership.

The federal government has announced it will set performance standards for natural gas-fired electricity generation, in consultation with provinces, territories, and stakeholders (see Annex I).

Federal, provincial, and territorial governments will work together to facilitate, invest in, and increase the use of clean electricity across Canada, including through additional investments in research, development, and demonstration activities.

The Canada Infrastructure Bank: The federal government is creating the Canada Infrastructure Bank, which will work with provinces, territories, and municipalities to further the reach of government funding directed to infrastructure, including clean electricity systems.

Community-based energy generation: In May 2015, New Brunswick introduced legislation to allow local entities to develop renewable energy sourced electricity generation in their communities. This legislation will allow universities, non-profit organizations, cooperatives, First Nations, and municipalities to contribute to NB Power’s renewable energy requirements.

2. Connecting clean power with places that need it

Federal, provincial, and territorial governments will work together to help build new and enhanced transmission lines between and within provinces and territories.

3. Modernizing electricity systems

Federal, provincial, and territorial governments will work together to support the demonstration and deployment of smart-grid technologies that help electric systems make better use of renewable-energy, facilitate the integration of energy storage for renewables, and help expand renewable power capacity.

4. Reducing reliance on diesel working with Indigenous Peoples and northern and remote communities

Governments are committed to accelerating and intensifying efforts to improve the energy efficiency of diesel generating units, demonstrate and install hybrid or renewable energy systems, and connect communities to electricity grids. This will be done in partnership with Indigenous Peoples and businesses. These actions will have significant benefits for communities, such as improving air quality and energy security, and creating the potential for locally owned and sourced power generation.

Ramea Wind-Hydrogen-Diesel Energy Project: The off-grid community of Ramea in Newfoundland and Labrador hosts one of the first projects in the world to integrate generation from wind, hydrogen, and diesel in an isolated electricity system. Since 2010, the Ramea Wind-Hydrogen-Diesel Energy Project has successfully produced approximately 680 000 kilowatt hours of renewable energy.

Built environment

In Canada, using energy to heat and cool buildings accounted for about 12 percent of national GHG emissions in 2014 or 17 percent if emissions from generating the electricity used in buildings is also included. The emissions in this sector—created by burning fossil fuels and leaks in air conditioning systems—are projected to grow modestly by 2030 unless further action is taken.

In a low-carbon, clean growth economy, buildings and communities will be highly energy efficient, rely on clean electricity and renewable energy, and be smart and sustainable. Making the built environment more energy efficient reduces GHGs, helps make homes and buildings more comfortable and more affordable by lowering energy bills, and can promote innovation and clean job opportunities. Most building owners and architects estimate that retrofitting commercial and institutional buildings pays off in less than ten years, according to data from the Canada Green Building Council. Residential energy efficiency improvements helped Canadians save $12 billion in energy costs in 2013, an average savings of $869 per household.

The approach to the built environment will include (1) making new buildings more energy efficient; (2) retrofitting existing buildings, as well as fuel switching; (3) improving energy efficiency for appliances and equipment; and (4) supporting building codes and energy efficient housing in Indigenous communities.

Advances in clean technologies and building practices can make new buildings “net-zero energy”, meaning they require so little energy they could potentially rely on their own renewable energy supplies for all of their energy needs. Through research and development, technology costs continue to fall, and government and industry efforts and investments will accelerate that trend. These advances, supported by a model “net-zero energy ready” building code, will enable all builders to adopt these practices and lower lifecycle costs for homeowners.

Efficiency Nova Scotia: Canada’s first energy efficiency utility—works with more than 100 local partners, and it has helped 225 000 program participants complete energy efficiency projects, saving Nova Scotians $110 million in 2016 alone. For example, the HomeWarming service is funded by the province of Nova Scotia as part of a long-term plan to upgrade all low-income homes in Nova Scotia, over the next 10 years.

At the same time, action is needed on existing buildings, since more than 75 percent of the building stock in 2030 will be composed of buildings already standing today. This can be supported by innovative policies like labelling a building’s energy performance, establishing retrofit codes, and offering low-cost financing for retrofits.

Housing for Indigenous communities is particularly pressing. New housing will be built to high-efficiency standards and existing housing will be retrofitted. Indigenous Peoples have also identified the need to incorporate traditional knowledge and culture into building designs. Governments will partner with Indigenous Peoples in the design of relevant policies and programs.

Energy efficiency standards for equipment and appliances save consumers and businesses money on energy bills. An early market signal by the government, in the form of an intention to introduce standards by a specific year, can motivate the market to accelerate the uptake of the targeted technologies. Regulations can be supported by actions to educate consumers, to demonstrate benefits, and to overcome market barriers.

Construction in Canada is a $171 billion industry, and it employs well over a million people. New building codes will spur innovation and support Canadian businesses in developing more efficient building techniques and technologies. Investments in retrofits to improve energy efficiency have been shown to be strong job creators, providing direct local benefits, creating local jobs, and reducing energy bills.

New actions

1. Making new buildings more energy efficient

Federal, provincial, and territorial governments will work to develop and adopt increasingly stringent model building codes, starting in 2020, with the goal that provinces and territories adopt a “net-zero energy ready” model building code by 2030. These building codes will take regional differences into account. Continued federal investment in research, development, and demonstration, and cooperation with industry will help to reduce technology costs over time.

2. Retrofitting existing buildings

Federal, provincial, and territorial governments will work to develop a model code for existing buildings by 2022, with the goal that provinces and territories adopt the code. This code will help guide energy efficiency improvements that can be made when renovating buildings.

Federal, provincial, and territorial governments will work together with the aim of requiring labelling of building energy use by as early as 2019. Labelling will provide consumers and businesses with transparent information on energy performance.

Provincial and territorial governments will work to sustain and, where possible, expand efforts to retrofit existing buildings by supporting energy efficiency improvements as well as fuel switching, where appropriate, and by accelerating the adoption of high-efficiency equipment while tailoring their programs to regional circumstances. The federal government could support efforts of provinces and territories through the Low Carbon Economy Fund and infrastructure initiatives.

Net-zero energy buildings: Construction costs for net-zero energy buildings have dropped 40 percent in the past decade, and they are continuing to fall. The benefits of net-zero energy buildings are significant. Estimated operating costs for a net-zero energy ready house is 30 percent to 55 percent less than a typical house, depending on region, fuel type and occupant behaviour. For example, on a -32 °C day, the Riverdale NetZero Project (a semi-detached duplex in Edmonton, Alberta) only needs 6500 W of power for heat—the same amount of heat produced by four toasters.

Social housing retrofits: To help fight climate change, Ontario invested $92 million in 2016 to retrofit social-housing buildings to reduce GHG emissions by installing energy efficient boilers, insulating outer walls and mechanical systems, and installing more energy efficient windows and lighting. Ontario's Climate Change Action Plan builds on this initial investment by committing up to $500 million more for social housing retrofits over the next five years.

3. Improving energy efficiency for appliances and equipment

The federal government will set new standards for heating equipment and other key technologies to the highest level of efficiency that is economically and technically achievable.

4. Supporting building codes and energy efficient housing in Indigenous communities

Governments will collaborate with Indigenous Peoples as they move towards more efficient building standards and incorporate energy efficiency into their building-renovation programs.

Aki Energy in Manitoba is a non-profit Aboriginal social enterprise that works with First Nations to start green businesses in their communities and to create local jobs and strong local economies.Aki Energy is committed to helping First Nations lower the utility bills to heat buildings, and it has installed over $3 million in cost-effective renewable energy technologies in partnership with Manitoba First Nations.

Transportation

The transportation sector accounted for about 23 percent of Canada’s emissions in 2014, mostly from passenger vehicles and freight trucks. Transportation emissions are projected to decline slightly by 2030 if no further action is taken. Governments are already working to make all modes of transportation more efficient and convenient, but more action is needed.

Low-carbon transportation systems will use cleaner fuels, will have more zero-emission vehicles on the road, will provide convenient and affordable public transit, and will transport people and goods more efficiently.

The approach to transportation will include (1) setting and updating vehicle emissions standards and improving the efficiency of vehicles and transportation systems; (2) expanding the number of zero-emission vehicles on Canadian roads; (3) supporting the shift from higher to lower-emitting types of transportation, including through investing in infrastructure; and (4) using cleaner fuels.

Emissions standards for cars and trucks ensure new engines are more fuel efficient. Retrofitting freight trucks to reduce wind resistance can also cut emissions. And streamlining how goods are transported can improve the overall efficiency of transportation systems.

Zero-emission vehicle technologies include plug-in hybrids, electric vehicles, and hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles. Many of these are becoming increasingly affordable and viable, and governments can help accelerate these trends, including by investing in charging and fueling infrastructure.

Electrification of transportation: Québec has committed to take significant action on the electrification of transportation by 2020, including by increasing the number of electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles registered in Québec to 100 000; adding 5000 electric-vehicle jobs and generating $500 million in investments; reducing the amount of fuel used each year in Québec by 66 million liters; and cutting annual GHG emissions from the transportation sector by 150 000 tonnes.

Shifting from higher- to lower-emitting modes of transportation includes things like riding public transit or cycling instead of driving a car, and transporting goods by rail instead of trucks. Improving public transit infrastructure and optimizing freight corridors can help drive these shifts.

Using cleaner fuels such as advanced biofuels can reduce the lifecycle carbon intensities of all fuels across transportation systems, as well as in other sectors like industry and buildings.

Taking these actions will have additional environmental and economic benefits beyond reducing GHG emissions. Efficiency improvements can help Canadians and businesses save money by spending less on fuel and reducing the costs of transporting goods. New, cleaner fuels can create opportunities for resource sectors. Businesses that develop new fuel and vehicle technologies will create jobs, help the economy grow, and give those businesses a competitive edge.

New actions

1. Setting emissions standards and improving efficiency

The federal government will continue its work to implement increasingly stringent standards for emissions from light-duty vehicles, including fuel-efficient tire standards, and to update emissions standards for heavy-duty vehicles.

The federal government will work with provinces, territories, and industry to develop new requirements for heavy-duty trucks to install fuel-saving devices like aerodynamic add-ons.

The federal government will take a number of actions to improve efficiency and support fuel switching in the rail, aviation, marine, and off-road sectors.

2. Putting more zero-emission vehicles on the road

Federal, provincial, and territorial governments will work with industry and other stakeholders to develop a Canada-wide strategy for zero-emission vehicles by 2018.

Federal, provincial, and territorial governments will work together, including with private-sector partners, to accelerate demonstration and deployment of infrastructure to support zero-emission vehicles, such as electric-charging stations.

3. Shifting from higher- to lower-emitting modes and investing in infrastructure

Federal, provincial, and territorial governments will work together to enhance investments in public-transit upgrades and expansions.

Federal, provincial, and territorial governments will invest in building more efficient trade and transportation corridors including investments in transportation hubs and ports.

Federal, provincial, and territorial governments will consider opportunities with the private sector to support refueling stations for alternative fuels for light- and heavy-duty vehicles, including natural gas, electricity, and hydrogen.

4. Using cleaner fuels

The federal government, working with provincial and territorial governments, industry, and other stakeholders, will develop a clean fuel standard to reduce emissions from fuels used in transportation, buildings and industry.

This will take into account the unique circumstances of Indigenous Peoples and northern and remote communities.

Industry

Canada’s industries are the backbone of the economy, but they are also a major source of GHG emissions. In 2014, industrial sectors accounted for about 37 percent of Canada’s emissions, the majority of which came from the oil and gas sector. Industrial emissions are projected to grow between now and 2030 as demand grows for Canadian-produced goods, at home and abroad.

A low-carbon industrial sector will rely heavily on clean electricity and lower-carbon fuels, will make more efficient use of energy, and will seize opportunities unlocked by innovative technologies. The province of Alberta has legislated an absolute cap of 100 Mt a year on emissions from the oil sands sector. There are a number of near-term opportunities to reduce industrial emissions while maintaining the competitive position of Canadian firms.

The approach to the industrial sector will include three main areas of action: (1) regulations to reduce methane and hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) emissions; (2) improving industrial energy efficiency; and (3) investing in new technologies to reduce emissions. Together, these actions will help set the path for long-term clean growth and the transition to a low-carbon economy.

Methane and HFCs are potent GHGs, dozens to thousands of times more powerful than carbon dioxide. The oil and gas sector is the largest contributor to methane emissions in Canada. Building on provincial actions and targets, the federal government has committed to reduce methane emissions by 40-45 percent by 2025. Canada joined almost 200 other countries in signing the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol, which will push the global phase out of HFC emissions. Taking action on HFCs can prevent up to 0.5 °C of global warming due to the potency of these gases, while continuing to protect the ozone layer.

There is significant potential to improve energy efficiency in Canada’s industrial sectors. Energy management systems such as ISO 50001, the Superior Energy Performance program (SEP), and the ENERGY STAR for Industry program are useful tools that help businesses track, analyze, and improve their energy efficiency.

Using today’s low-emission technologies and switching to clean electricity and lower-carbon fuels are near-term actions industry can take to reduce emissions. Over the longer-term, more dramatic emission reductions will be possible by using new technologies to transform how some industries operate. Investing in promising new technologies is an important area for action. Innovation will help Canadian businesses access global markets and attract foreign investment.

Oil Sands Innovation: COSIA (Canada’s Oil Sands Innovation Alliance) is an alliance of 13 oil sands producers, representing 90 percent of production from the Canadian oil sands, who are working together to develop technologies that help reduce the environmental impact of the oil sands, including reducing GHG emissions. Member companies have shared 936 distinct environmental technologies, costing $1.33 billion, since coming together in 2012.

Lower carbon industrial activity in Canada: Quebec’s aluminium smelters have reduced their emissions by 30 percent since 1990. The modernized world-class aluminum smelter in Kitimat, BC will boost production and reduce emissions by nearly 50 percent. As a result of these investments, Canada’s aluminum industry is now the most carbon-efficient producer of aluminium in the world.

Taking these actions will benefit businesses. Strengthening energy performance is one of the most cost-effective ways for industry to reduce energy use, it generally has quick payback periods, and it will continually generate financial savings. Measures that help cut costs or develop new technologies can improve competitiveness and create jobs and export opportunities for the clean technology sector.

New actions

1. Reducing methane and HFC emissions

The federal government will work with provinces and territories to achieve the objective of reducing methane emissions from the oil and gas sector, including offshore activities, by 40-45 percent by 2025, including through equivalency agreements.

The federal government has introduced proposed regulations to phase down use of HFCs to support Canada’s commitment to the Montreal Protocol amendment.

2. Improving industrial energy efficiency

Federal, provincial, and territorial governments will work together to help industries save energy and money, including by supporting them in adopting energy management systems.

3. Investing in technology

Federal, provincial, and territorial governments working with industry will continue to invest in research and development and to promote deployment of new technologies that help reduce emissions.

Federal, provincial, and territorial governments will also work with industry to identify demonstration projects for promising pre-commercial clean energy technologies required to reduce emissions from energy production and use in the Canadian economy, including in the oil and gas sector.

Forestry, agriculture, and waste

Emissions from agriculture (livestock and crop production) and extraction of forestry resources accounted for about 10 percent of Canada’s emissions in 2014, and they are not projected to significantly change by 2030. Municipal waste accounts for a small portion (about 3 percent) of Canada’s total GHGs, and these emissions are projected to decline, largely due to increases in landfill gas capture.

Agricultural soils and forests also absorb and store carbon. The emissions or removals from carbon sinks can fluctuate with natural disturbances (e.g. forest fires), but there are still a number of actions that can increase carbon storage and reduce emissions.

Forests, wetlands, and agricultural lands across Canada will play an important natural role in a low-carbon economy by absorbing and storing atmospheric carbon. Actions taken by jurisdictions and woodlot owners to accelerate reforestation, to continuously improve sustainable management practices, and to plant new forests where they do not currently exist will enhance stored carbon. Clean technology, such as lower-carbon bioenergy, and bioproducts that use feedstock from agriculture and forestry waste and dedicated crops to replace higher-carbon fuels can also reduce emissions. Continued innovation and clean technology in agriculture will build on past GHG reduction successes of decreasing emissions per unit of production. The municipal waste sector will also be a key source of cleaner fuels such as renewable natural gas from landfills.

The approach to these sectors will include (1) enhancing carbon storage in forests and agricultural lands; (2) supporting the increased use of wood for construction; (3) generating fuel from bioenergy and bioproducts; and, (4) advancing innovation.

Forests, wetlands, and agricultural lands can be enhanced as “carbon sinks” through actions such as planting more trees, improving forest carbon management practices, minimizing losses from fires and invasive species, restoring forests that have been affected by natural disturbances, and increasing adoption of land management practices like increasing perennial and permanent cover crops and zero-till farming. Protecting and restoring natural areas, including wetlands, can also benefit biodiversity and maintain or enhance carbon storage.

Increasing the use of wood for construction can reduce emissions as the carbon stored in that wood gets locked in for a long period of time. Increasing domestic demand for Canadian wood products will also support the vibrant forest industries across Canada, which have a long history of innovating to develop new products and more efficient and sustainable forest practices. 

The Cheakamus Community Forest carbon offset project is located adjacent to the Resort Municipality of Whistler, within the traditional territories of the Squamish and Lil’wat Nations. The project retains more carbon in the forest by using ecosystem-based management practices that include increasing protected areas and using lower-impact harvesting techniques.

The forestry, agriculture, and waste sectors also provide biomass for bioproducts that can be used in place of fossil fuels in other sectors. For example, waste products from forestry, agriculture, and landfills can be converted into energy sources such as renewable natural gas. Dedicated crops can be grown as feedstocks for products like bioplastics. Expanding renewable fuel industries represents an opportunity to create new jobs and economic growth across Canada.

Biomass-fired district heating: Prince Edward Island is home to Canada’s longest running, biomass-fired district heating system. Operating since the 1980’s, the system has expanded to serve over 125 buildings in the downtown core of Charlottetown, including the University of Prince Edward Island and the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, and cleanly burns 66 000 tons of waste materials annually.

Innovative solutions, including clean technologies, are required to reduce emissions from agriculture. Promising new technologies are being developed to reduce emissions from livestock and crop production, including from the use of precision farming and “smart” fertilizers, which time the release to match plant needs, and from feed innovations that reduce methane production in cattle. Actions pertaining to the agriculture sector will be developed collaboratively through Canada’s Next Agriculture Policy Framework.

These actions in the forestry, agriculture, and waste sectors, and supporting clean technology businesses, can help to create jobs and build more sustainable communities.

New actions

1. Increasing stored carbon

Federal, provincial, and territorial governments will work together to protect and enhance carbon sinks, including in forests, wetlands, and agricultural lands (e.g. through land-use and conservation measures).

2. Increasing the use of wood for construction

Federal, provincial, and territorial governments will collaborate to encourage the increased use of wood products in construction, including through updated building codes.

3. Generating bioenergy and bioproducts

Federal, provincial, and territorial governments will work together to identify opportunities to produce renewable fuels and bioproducts, for example, generating renewable fuel from waste.

4. Advancing innovation

Federal, provincial, and territorial governments will work together to enhance innovation to advance GHG efficient management practices in forestry and agriculture.

Government leadership

Governments are directly responsible for a relatively small share of Canada’s emissions (about 0.6 percent), but they have an opportunity to lead by example. A number of provinces are already demonstrating leadership, including through carbon neutral policies. 

Carbon neutral government: British Columbia’s public sector has successfully achieved carbon neutrality each year since 2010. Over the past 6 years, schools, post-secondary institutions, government offices, Crown corporations, and hospitals have reduced a total of 4.3 million tonnes of emissions through improvements to their operations and investments of $51.4 million in offset projects. British Columbia was the first—and continues to be the only—carbon neutral jurisdiction on the continent.

In a low-carbon, clean growth economy, federal, provincial, and territorial governments will be leaders in sustainable, low-emission practices that support the goals of clean growth and address climate change.

Municipalities are also essential partners. How cities develop and operate has an important impact on energy use and therefore GHG emissions.

Leadership by cities: The City of Whitehorse’s Sustainability Plan outlines 12 community-wide goals in areas such as transportation, buildings, waste, GHG reductions, and resilient, accessible food systems, with associated targets for 2020, 2030, and 2050. For example, Whitehorse has set a target that new buildings will be 30 percent more efficient than the National Energy Code of Canada for Buildings, the National Building Codes, or achievable comparable EnerGuide ratings, while city-owned buildings will be 50 percent more efficient than the National Energy Code.

The public sector can play an important role by setting ambitious emissions reduction targets and by demonstrating the effectiveness of policies to reduce emissions (e.g. from vehicle fleets and buildings).

The approach to government leadership will include (1) setting ambitious targets; (2) cutting emissions from government buildings and fleets; and (3) scaling up clean procurement.

Governments control a significant share of assets like fleets and buildings. By setting targets and implementing policies to make buildings more efficient and to reduce emissions from vehicle fleets, the public sector can help to demonstrate the business case for ambitious action. Governments are also major purchasers and providers of goods and services, and they can help to build demand for low-carbon goods and services through procurement policies. They can also provide a testing ground for new and emerging technologies, creating new opportunities for Canadian firms developing clean technology products, services, and processes.  

New actions

1. Setting ambitious targets

Federal, provincial, and territorial governments will demonstrate leadership through commitments to ambitious targets to reduce emissions from government operations. The federal government is committed to reduce its own GHG emissions to 40 percent below 2005 levels, by 2030 or sooner.

2. Cutting emissions from government buildings and fleets

Federal, provincial, and territorial government will scale up efforts to transition to highly efficient buildings and zero-emission vehicle fleets. The federal government has set a goal of using 100 percent clean power by 2025.

3. Scaling up clean procurement

Federal, provincial, and territorial governments will work together to modernize procurement practices, adopt clean energy and technologies, and prioritize opportunities to help Canadian businesses grow, demonstrate new technologies, and create jobs.

International leadership

Governments will work with their international partners, including developing countries, to help reduce emissions around the world. The federal government is investing $2.65 billion in climate finance to help developing countries transition to low-carbon economies and build climate resilience.

The priority is to first focus on reduction in emissions within Canada, but part of Canada’s approach to climate change could also involve acquiring allowances for emissions reductions in other parts of the world, as a complement to domestic emissions reduction efforts. As recognized under the Paris Agreement (article 6), countries may choose to use emissions reductions that take place outside of their own borders, known as “internationally transferred mitigation outcomes”, to meet their targets.  Emissions reductions that take place outside of Canada may have lower costs and contribute to investment in sustainable development abroad. Quebec and California already participate in international emissions trading under their linked cap-and-trade system, which Ontario will soon join.

The approach to international leadership will include (1) delivering on Canada’s international climate finance commitments; (2) acquiring internationally transferred mitigation outcomes; and (3) engaging in trade and climate policy.

Federal, provincial, and territorial governments will also explore mechanisms and opportunities for provinces and territories to collaborate in international fora, joint missions, and discussions on climate change and energy.

The federal government will continue to engage with and support Indigenous Peoples’ action on international climate change issues, including through the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, to formulate a platform for Indigenous Peoples, as agreed to in the Paris decision.

New actions

1. Delivering on Canada’s international climate-finance commitments

The federal government will deliver on its historic commitment of $2.65 billion by 2020 to help the poorest and most vulnerable countries mitigate and adapt to the adverse effects of climate change.

2. Acquiring internationally transferred mitigation outcomes

The federal government, in cooperation with provincial and territorial governments and relevant partners, will continue to explore which types of tools related to the acquisition of internationally transferred mitigation outcomes may be beneficial to Canada and will advance a robust approach to the implementation of article 6 of the Paris Agreement. A first priority is ensuring any cross-border transfer of mitigation outcomes is based on rigorous accounting rules, informed by experts, which result in real reductions.

The federal government will work with Ontario, Quebec, and other interested provinces and territories, as well as with international partners, to ensure that allowances acquired through international-emissions trading are counted towards Canada’s international target.

3. Engaging in trade and climate policy

The federal government, in cooperation with provincial and territorial governments, will work with its international partners to ensure that trade rules support climate policy.

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