What is Canada's Global Impact

Canada - From National Progress to International Leadership

For the first time Canada has a legal framework that brings the federal government, the governments of the provinces and territories and all major economic sectors on a common course for climate protection. This opens up the possibility for Canada, together with other countries, to assume a leading role in international climate policy. Following the results of the summit in Taormina, the upcoming Canadian G7 presidency will be key to pushing ahead with the implementation of the Paris Agreement.

Immediately after the ratification of the Paris Agreement in October 2016, Canada presented its “Pan-Canadian Framework for Climate Change and Green Growth” (PCF, Link). The master plan aims to ensure that Canada achieves its emissions reduction targets (30% fewer emissions in 2030 compared to 2005) under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. The proposed measures range from a national CO2-Price by 2018 for the dismantling of subsidies for fossil fuels by 2025, the end of coal-fired power generation by 2030 and the reduction of methane emissions by 40 to 45 percent by 2025 up to a nationwide strategy for emission-free transport, which should be available in the coming year.

From CAN Canada perspective, a fair participation by Canada would require a 50 percent reduction in emissions by 2030 compared to 2005 and an increase in Canada's contributions to international climate finance to 4 billion US dollars per year by 2020 (Link).

The credibility of the master plan depends on the timely and effective implementation of the proposed policy measures, as well as their refinement with the help of a transparent oversight mechanism.

The implementation has progressed continuously so far. In terms of subsidies for fossil fuels, Canada has made a start with the removal of a subsidy of US $ 50 million annually in the latest federal budget. While this is a small amount given Canada's total fossil fuel subsidies estimated at $ 3.3 billion (Link), it is an important step in the right direction. A clear end date on the part of the G20 to phase out coal, oil and gas would be an important signal for the need to get out of fossil subsidies swiftly.

Canada's domestic policies have implications around the world

The successful implementation of Canada's plan is of great importance to the global effort against climate change. Without a substantial climate policy to increase existing ambition, Canada will see the world's second largest increase in oil production over the next 20 years (Link). But with the PCF, Canada is now one of the few oil-producing countries that is promoting a noteworthy nationwide climate policy.

The plan takes a flexible approach that could turn Canada's federal structure, which has hindered coherent and consistent climate policies, into a strength. It is cleverly designed to expand the most effective sub-national activities in recent years and to bring together the various approaches in the provinces with a view to national goals. However, the success of the approach depends on the individual provinces actually fulfilling their obligations or even going beyond them.

The changing political landscape at the main trading partner south of the Canadian border also threatens the implementation of the PCF. His opponents cite the threat of competitive disadvantages vis-à-vis the USA, and numerous policy measures that are essential to Canada's climate goals have been harmonized with US policy.

From national progress to international leadership

For companies, investors and decision-makers, the political momentum at the G20 meeting will send a great signal to gauge the extent of the determination to implement the Paris Agreement. At the Petersberg Climate Dialogue, Canadian Environment Minister McKenna conjured up the urgency of climate protection and highlighted the economic advantages and growth opportunities of a low-carbon development path, as confirmed in the recently published OECD report (Link).

Canada takes over the presidency of the G7 after the G7 summit in Italy late last week. The G7 / 8 has helped shape the global climate change agenda since the last Italian presidency in 2009 (Link). In view of the Trump administration's blocking stance, it can be seen as a success that in the latest G7 summit communiqué the other six G7 states emphasize their commitment to the Paris Agreement and its implementation. At the same time, this split shows the great task facing the Canadian Presidency. The G7's climate policy credibility now also depends on Canada's ability to advance concrete climate policy.

Canada has invested a lot politically in the past two years in order to be able to take on a pioneering role in climate protection. CAN Canada therefore expects Canada to adopt this as part of the G20. China and the EU put climate policy high on the agenda for their meeting on June 2nd - Canada can join this new pioneering alliance as a third party. Building on constructive multilateralism as a counterweight to anti-climate sentiments in some countries, this would make it easier for Canada to enter the G7 presidency constructively. Good results from the G20 summit this year would also have a reinforcing effect on Canada's national agenda.

Catherine Abreu
Executive Director of the Climate Action Network (CAN) Canada


- With financial support from Stiftung Mercator. The author and Germanwatch are responsible for the content. -

More from Germanwatch about the G20 >>>