Canadian Province Climate Policy Maps

At-a-glance

  • Nine out of ten Canadian provinces have adopted greenhouse gas reduction targets to address climate change.
  • Currently three provinces have carbon pricing programs. All provinces and territories are required to have carbon pricing in place by 2019.
  • Canada has one of the cleanest electricity systems in the world; about 80 percent of Canada’s electricity comes from zero-emitting sources.

Introduction

Canada is undertaking a number of actions to address climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and helping communities prepare for the impacts of climate change. Many of Canada’s policies to combat climate change occur at the provincial level. Provinces have established market-based programs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, policies to promote zero-emitting electricity, and policies and incentives to deploy zero-emitting vehicles.

The federal government of Canada has also taken a number of climate actions. Most of these actions are reflected in the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change, which will help Canada to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. Elements of the Pan-Canadian Framework include: carbon pricing, complementary actions to reduce emissions across economics sectors, and actions to help communities prepare for the impacts of climate change.

Climate Action Plans

All provinces have completed comprehensive climate action plans. These plans detail steps provinces can take to reduce their contribution to climate change and to prepare for the impacts of a changing climate.

Canadian Province Climate Action Plans

Greenhouse Gas Emissions Targets

A greenhouse gas emissions target is a goal set to reduce emission levels that provinces plan to achieve by a specified time. For example, Canada set a target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. Provinces, territories, and the federal government are working towards meeting this goal. Currently, nine provinces have implemented overall greenhouse gas targets.

Canadian Provincial GHG Emission Targets

Carbon Pricing Policies

Three Canadian provinces — Alberta, British Columbia, and Quebec — that are home to about 48 percent of Canada’s population and accounting for about 48 percent of the country’s GDP already have a price on carbon and are successfully reducing emissions.

In December 2016, Canada announced the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change. Carbon pricing is a central pillar of the Pan-Canadian Framework. Provinces and territories are required to have a carbon pricing program in place by 2019. The Canadian federal government will implement an explicit price-based carbon pricing system to act as a federal backstop in jurisdictions that do not have a carbon pricing program that meets benchmark requirements.

Canadian Provincial Carbon Pricing

Renewable Energy Standards

Canada has one of the cleanest electricity systems in the world. In 2016, about 80 percent of Canada’s electricity came from zero-emitting sources like conventional hydropower, wind, solar, and nuclear. Canada has set a goal of increasing the share of zero-emitting sources to 90 percent by 2030.

Four Canadian provinces require electricity utilities to deliver a certain amount of electricity from renewable or alternative energy sources.

Canadian Provincial Renewable Energy Standards

GHG Standards/Caps for Electricity

In 2018, Canada’s federal government proposed updating regulations that would accelerate the phaseout of traditional coal-fired units by 2030. The existing regulation requires coal-fired units to meet a performance standard of 420 metric tons of carbon dioxide per gigawatt-hour or retire when they reach 50 years of operations. The objective of carbon dioxide performance standards is to reduce emissions by requiring designated sources to employ technology or other measures to limit carbon dioxide emissions. Coal-fired units could meet this standard by installing carbon capture and storage or using carbon-neutral biomass.

Four provinces — Alberta, Saskatchewan, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia — generate a significant portion of their electricity from coal-fired units. Ontario already phased out coal plants in 2014. Alberta plans to phaseout coal plans in the province by 2030.

Canadian Provincial GHG Standards for Electricity

Transportation Policies

There are a number of policies and incentives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the transportation sector, such as: setting vehicle emission standards and improving fuel efficiency, using cleaner fuels through a renewable fuel standard, and deploying more zero emission vehicles.

A renewable fuel standard reduces greenhouse gas emissions from transportation fuels by requiring the fuel to contain a certain amount of renewable energy product (e.g., ethanol).

In December 2017, the federal government of Canada published a regulatory framework for a clean fuel standard as a way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through increased use of lower-carbon fuels and the user of alternative technologies. The performance-based standard will offer a flexible approach to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30 metric megatons by 2030. The federal approach builds on the work of five provinces — Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario, and Saskatchewan — that already have renewable fuel mandates equal to or greater than the current federal requirements. British Columbia also has a low-carbon fuel standard.

Canadian Provincial Renewable Fuel Standard

The federal government is working with provinces, territories, and businesses to deploy zero-emission vehicles and accelerate the deployment of infrastructure to support them (e.g., electric vehicle charging stations). This works build on the individual efforts of provinces.

Canadian Provincial Clean Vehicle Policies and Incentives