Canada needs a race to the front on climate actionLeading Canadian environmental organizations release Canada-wide report on climate progress in advance of environment ministers meeting

Sept. 28, 2016

OTTAWA — There are some examples of strong climate policy across Canada, but the country lacks a national vision to achieve its climate goals, according to a report released today by a coalition of environment organizations, led by the Pembina Institute.

Race to the front: tracking pan-Canadian climate progress and where we go from here, examines existing climate policies at the federal, provincial and territorial level, and outlines recommendations to Canada’s first ministers as they work to establish a national climate plan. For example, British Columbia’s low-carbon fuel standard, Alberta’s accelerated phase-out of coal-fired power, Ontario’s approach to buildings, and Quebec’s zero emissions vehicle target merits broader consideration across the country.  

Despite past commitments to achieve climate targets, Canada has never produced a national climate change plan — let alone one sufficiently ambitious to achieve our international obligations. With the upcoming pan-Canadian climate plan, Prime Minister Trudeau and the premiers have an opportunity to lay the foundation of Canada’s low carbon economy, and to align domestic policies with the ambition of the Paris Agreement. Bold action to reduce carbon pollution is good economic policy: policies that support clean energy deployment will ensure Canada remains competitive in the growing global market for clean technologies.

Quick facts

  • Canada’s emissions have declined by 2 per cent below 2005 levels, but have increased by 20 per cent above 1990 levels.
  • From 2005 to 2014, emissions rose by 18 per cent within Alberta, 8 per cent in Saskatchewan, and 4 per cent in Manitoba. Emissions declined by 4 per cent in B.C., 19 per cent in Ontario, 8 per cent in Quebec, and 22 per cent in Atlantic Canada.
  • Nearly 50 per cent of Canada’s emissions come from two sectors: oil and gas and transportation.
  • By 2030, if all existing and developing climate policies (as of April 2016) are implemented, emissions will decline relative to 2005 levels for Alberta, Ontario, and Quebec. Emissions will rise for B.C., Saskatchewan, Manitoba and for Atlantic Canada.


“With its upcoming pan-Canadian climate plan, the federal government has an opportunity to knit together the country’s piecemeal approach to climate action and ensure consistent ambition across the board. We urge the first ministers to work together to scale successful policies at a national level and, ultimately, demonstrate a coherent plan to achieve the country’s 2030 climate goal.”
— Erin Flanagan, Program Director, Federal Policy, Pembina Institute



Visit the Pembina Institute’s website to download a copy of Race to the front.


Erin Flanagan
Program Director, Federal Policy, Pembina Institute

Kelly O’Connor
Communications Lead, Pembina Institute


Submission: Building a Pan-Canadian Climate Plan: Policy options to meet or exceed Canada’s 2030 emissions target (June 2016)

Blog: Budget 2016 lays down tracks for first ministers’ climate success (March 2016)

Reacts: Pembina reacts to national climate declaration (March 2016)

Blog: Success of the Paris Agreement will be measured by policy progress here at home (December 2015)

Regional spokespeople

British Columbia:
Josha MacNab

BC Regional Director, Pembina Institute

tel. (778) 871-1100 |

Sara Hastings-Simon
Program director, Clean Economy
Pembina Institute
tel. (403) 470-0165 |

Keith Brooks
Programs Director
Environmental Defence
tel. (416) 323-9521 x233 |

Annie Bérubé
Directrice, Relations gouvernementales
tel. (613) 809-2855 |

New Brunswick:
Dr. Louise Comeau
Director, Climate Change and Energy Solutions
Conservation Council of New Brunswick
tel. (506) 238-0355 |

Nova Scotia:
Stephen Thomas
Energy Campaign Coordinator
Ecology Action Centre
(902) 441-7136 |


Our perspectives to your inbox.

The Pembina Institute endeavors to maintain your privacy and protect the confidentiality of any personal information that you may give us. We do not sell, share, rent or otherwise disseminate personal information. Read our full privacy policy.