Following the First Ministers’ Meeting on December 9th, Canada’s First Ministers issued a joint communiqué and released the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change (the “Framework”). Governments across Canada will, for the first time ever, work under a coordinated plan to meet national climate targets and adapt to the impacts of climate change. All but two provinces and territories have signed onto the Framework and the Prime Minister has indicated that the Federal government will apply national measures set out in the Framework even in provinces that have not officially signed on.
The actions committed to under this Framework mark a major step towards mitigating climate change and building a lower-carbon future for Canadians. As shown in the figure below, the plan recognizes that it alone will not be able to meet Canada’s 2030 target of 523Mt of reduced carbon dioxide equivalent emissions, but the Framework combined with existing measures are projected to take national emissions from 742Mt (projection as of December 2016) to 567Mt—a significant and laudable step.
(Figure sourced from pg. 45 of the report.)
The Framework is noticeably light on adaptation actions. We expect more to come on this front—as we are already seeing the impacts of climate change—and hope to see more detailed adaptation measures announced soon.
The Pan-Canadian Framework has four main pillars:
- pricing carbon pollution
- measures to further reduce emissions
- measures to adapt to climate change and build resilience
- accelerating innovation, clean technology and job creation
In addition to putting a price on carbon nation-wide, measures that we find particularly exciting under the other three pillars include:
Reducing GHG Emissions
- development of a “net-zero energy ready” model building code that provinces and territories would aim to adopt by 2030
- phase-out of traditional coal-fired power by 2030 and performance standards for natural gas-fed electricity generation
- creation of a coordinated strategy for zero-emission vehicles by 2018
- establishment of a clean fuel standard for transportation, buildings and industry
- support for smart-grid technologies that expand renewable capacity and facilitate the integration of energy storage
- encouragement of wood products in construction, including through updated building codes
- improvement of government procurement practices to promote clean energy and technologies
- exploration of tools to count “internationally transferred mitigation outcomes” towards Canada’s commitments under Article 6 of the Paris Agreement (read: supporting emissions reductions outside of Canada)
- protection of carbon sinks through land-use and conservation measures and promotion of innovation in forestry and agriculture to develop more energy efficient management practices
Adapting to the Impacts of Climate Change
- investment in climate resilient infrastructure
- integration of climate resilience into building design guides and codes, including the commitment of $40 million in federal funding over five years to support revised national building codes by 2020 for residential, institutional, commercial, and industrial facilities
- establishment of a Canadian centre for climate services, to improve access to climate science and information
- development and modernization of flood maps and assessment of flood risks through the National Disaster Mitigation Program
Accelerating Clean Growth
- allocation of significant investments to public transit, clean technology, green infrastructure, and new electricity transmission lines to improve Canada’s clean power potential
- enhancement of access to capital for clean technology businesses to bring their products and services to market, including at the commercial-scale demonstration and deployment stages
- development of action plans for greening government operations that, among other things, encourage public sector entities (e.g. utilities and municipalities) to adopt clean technologies and lead by example
Federal, provincial and territorial governments also agreed to establish a process for tracking GHG emissions reductions, taking regular stock of progress achieved under the Framework and reporting this information to Canadians in a transparent way.
It is encouraging to see Canada’s continued commitment to meet its Paris Agreement obligations and leadership at a critical time in the global climate movement. This Framework will enable emissions reductions domestically while also providing exciting opportunities to promote our low-carbon economy by deploying Canadian clean-tech solutions to help lower emissions abroad. Indeed, under the Framework, Canada has left the door open to meeting its own commitments through supporting climate initiatives in other jurisdictions, including in those countries who need support most. A truly effective and efficient approach would promote these international opportunities. The Framework acknowledges this, embraces the complexity of the climate challenge and is a promising first step in the development of coordinated programs to promote Canadian action on climate change.
 Premier of Saskatchewan, Brad Wall, refused to sign on and Manitoba’s Premier, Brian Pallister, is holding off for now due to seeking Healthcare related funding but has stated agreement to the framework in principle.