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Canadian Govt. & Politics: Climate Change Policy -- Clarifying

Climate Change Policy: Clarification and Direction: Finding the Facts


The following are sources useful for understanding climate change policy in contemporary Canadian government and politics. These sources should be consulted in addition to those listed in the main sections of this guide.


Climate Change Glossary. By

Short definitions of approximately sixty basic terms used on this Canadian climate data portal.

Dictionary and Introduction to Global Environmental Governance. By Richard A. Meganck and Richard E. Saunier. 2nd ed. Earthscan, 2009. 496 p.

Has over 5,500 terms, organization names and acronyms useful for understanding international environmental agreements and issues.

Dictionary of Sustainability. By Margret Robertson. Routledge, 2017. 176 p.

Provides definitions for thousands of terms used in this interdisciplinary field involving a wide range of environmental issues.

Glossary. Annex 1. Global Warming of 1.5°C. An IPCC Special Report. IPCC, 2018. 24 p.

Defines terms used in the report.

Vocabulary of Global Warming. Volume 1: Contributors to the Greenhouse Effect. By Denis Rivard. Terminology Bulletin 214. Ottawa: Translation Bureau, 1992. 621 p.

Has approximately 6,000 terms in English and French, with context and usage notes, and definitions for over 1,000 terms.

Facts & Figures

General | Dates | People | Statistics & Data


Environment and Climate Change Canada.

The official homepage of the main federal department dealing with climate change links to current information on the department, including its organization chart, budget estimates, planning and performance reports, related legislation, etc., and a link to a section specific to Climate Change with the latest action plans, data, and related information.

Departments and Roles, 1867 to Today. Parlinfo. Library of Parliament.

This site provides federal Department name changes over the years, the Ministers responsible, Deputy Ministers, Opposition Critics, and some other positions, with their terms of office. Linked names also lead to brief biographical profiles.

Provincial and Territorial Government Climate Change Websites.

The government of each province and territory has at least one major web page dedicated to their climate policies and related information:

Alberta: "Climate Change":
British Columbia: "Climate Change":
Manitoba: "Made-in-Manitoba Climate and Green Plan":
New Brunswick: "Climate Change":
Newfoundland and Labrador: "Climate Change":
Northwest Territories: "Climate Change":
Nova Scotia: "Climate Change in Nova Scotia":
Nunavut: "Nunavut Climate Change Centre":
Ontario: "Climate Change":
Prince Edward Island: "Climate Change":
Quebec: "Plan for a Green Economy":
Saskatchewan: "A Made-in-Saskatchewan Climate Change Strategy":
Yukon: "Climate Change in Yukon":

General | Dates | People | Statistics & Data


The Path to Progress: A Climate Change Chronology. Environment Canada, 2003.

This archived chronology lists key climate change related events from 1896 to 2002.

Timeline: Environmental Movement. The Canadian Encyclopedia. Historica Canada. Updated periodically.

This timeline describes some of the major conservation efforts in Canada from the 1800s to the present.

Timeline of Canada's UNFCCC Document Submissions. Climate Watch.

Canada was one of 150 countries to sign the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in 1992. Parties to the convention must submit reports on their implementation of the convention. This timeline is especially useful since it not only clearly shows the dates of Canada's reports, but also links to the full reports in pdf format from the 1994,144-page first one: Canada's National Report on Climate Change: Actions to Meet Commitments Under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, to the latest.

A Timeline of Canadian Climate Change Commitments. Office of the Auditor General of Canada.

Lists the federal government's climate change commitments from ratifying the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in 1992 to the 2015 agreements to achieve Sustainable Development Goals related to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

General | Dates | People | Statistics & Data


Canadian Environmentalists. In Canadian Environmental Resource Guide. Grey House Publishing. Updated annually. Print and online subscriptions.

This annual directory includes in its introductory material approximately 40 brief biographies of prominent Canadian environmentalists. Entries include information on their career and current positions, awards received, publications authored, and contact information.

Departments and Roles: 1867 to Today. Parlinfo. Library of Parliament.

This table allows you to see the names of the federal Minister, Deputy Minister, Parliamentary Secretary, and Opposition Critics for the Department of Environment since its creation in 1971. A brief biographical profile is available in some cases.

See also the Note on Major Biographies in the main part of this guide: Facts & Figures -- People.

General | Dates | People | Statistics & Data


Canadian Statistics & Data:

Canada in a Changing Climate. Natural Resources Canada.

Reports from the National Assessment Process led by NRC, are produced by teams of scientists to assess how and why Canada’s climate is changing, and the impacts of the changes.  Reports include:
Canada’s Changing Climate Report , 2019

National Issues Report , 2021
Regional Perspectives Report , 2020-2022
Health of Canadians in a Changing Climate: Advancing our Knowledge for Action, 2022
Canada’s Changing Climate Report in Light of the Latest Global Science Assessment, 2022

Canada's Official Greenhouse Gas Inventory. Environment and Climate Change Canada.


Under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Canada is required to submit an inventory of its GHG emissions estimates annually. The data page links to the GHG emissions data, information about it, and to related datasets such as the Black Carbon Inventory.

Reports: National Inventory Report: Greenhouse Gas Sources and Sinks in Canada. 2004 to present:  (Earlier reports: 1992, '94, '96, '97, 1999 -  2003 in print.)

Report tables include trend data and comparisons with 1990 levels.

Canadian Centre for Climate Services.

Funded by the Canadian government, this site provides access to climate change information including basics, datasets, maps and tools, and experts provide assistance in interpreting and using the information for climate change adaptation.

Canadian Climate Data and Scenarios.

This federal government page links to climate datasets including climate observations and climate scenarios and modelling information.

Canadian Environmental Sustainability Indicators (CESI).

The CESI program provides data and information from several federal departments and the provincial and territorial governments, to track Canada's performance on key sustainability issues including climate change, air quality, water quality and availability, wildlife and habitat protection, etc. The Climate Indicators include GHG emissions, temperature, precipitation, sea ice, and snow cover changes, and the latest report on progress towards Canada's GHG emission reduction target.

Climate Atlas of Canada.

An interactive tool created by the Prairie Climate Centre for learning about climate change in Canada. The atlas allows you to explore regional and local climate change issues and data through maps, articles, and videos.

Created by several Canadian climate organizations and funded, in part, by the federal government, this portal provides easy to access climate data summaries for any location in Canada, from 1951 to the present. The "Learning Zone" has introductory information on how to understand historical climate data and use it for decision-making. The "Analyze" section allows you to choose a dataset, select a timeframe, variables, models, etc., and the data will be processed for you.

Historical Climate Data.

This federal government page provides access to historical weather and climate data, some since 1840. Includes temperature, precipitation, averages, extremes, and climate normals, etc. Also has links to the Canadian Centre for Climate Services and other sources for climate information.

National Energy Use Database. Natural Resources Canada.

Tables show energy use by sector, energy efficiency trends, GHG emissions, etc., by region and province.

Statistics Canada Information and Data.

Canada's official statistical agency website can be searched by keyword, or browsed by subject. Selecting the subject Environment, or Energy, brings together statistics, datasets, interactive tools, analytical reports, infographics, and information on related statistical surveys conducted by Statistics Canada. 

Global Statistics & Data:

Climate Transparency.

This global partnership of organizations publishes the annual Climate Transparency Report (previously known as "Brown to Green Report”), a comprehensive overview of all G20 countries' commitments to transition to a net-zero emissions economy. The report is based on 100 indicators on decarbonisation, climate policies, finance, vulnerability to the impacts of climate change, etc. The site also has articles, country factsheets, and more related information.

Climate Watch. By World Resources Institute.

This easy to use site combines open climate change data from countries around the world, with useful graphs and other visualizations to help track countries' progress in dealing with climate change. Searching by country shows each country's submissions to the UN since the 1990s with links to the reports, GHG emissions since 1990, the country's net-zero targets and other national laws and policies. The site also allows easy comparisons of climate plans, specific commitments and targets, e.g. with the Net-Zero Tracker, and GHG Emissions Module. Countries' emissions can be compared by sector and type of gas since the 1990s. Also here are economic and emissions scenarios for how countries can meet their goals.

IPCC Data. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

The foremost authority on climate change, the IPCC is an international body that works with thousands of scientists around the world studying climate change. It was established by the UN and the World Meteorological Organization in 1988 to provide governments at all levels with peer-reviewed scientific information on climate change and its impacts, future risks, and mitigation options, that governments can use to develop climate policies. The first IPCC scientific assessment report of climate change was published in 1990. All reports can be accessed at the site. Related data can be accessed at this link through the Data Distribution Centre (which has observations of climate change and its impacts, socio-economic and other environmental data, both historical and for scenarios projected into the future), and the Emission Factor Database (with emission factors and other parameters that can be used for estimating GHG emissions and removals). 

International Energy Agency (IEA). Data and Statistics

This organization of 30 member countries including Canada, publishes a wide range of energy statistics, data, and analysis, e.g. Methane Tracker, Energy and Carbon Tracker, renewables, EV sales, etc. Some data available free online.


Climate Change.

Canada is a member of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. This page on their website brings together many links to their actions on climate change, statistical publications, country data and indicators, and more.

Fossil Fuel Support Data.

In order to help countries phase out their fossil fuel subsidies, described as environmentally harmful, costly and disruptive in the 2019 brochure, the OECD maintains an inventory of support measures for fossil fuels which identifies, documents, and estimates the value of support from over 1,000 policies that countries such as Canada use to encourage fossil fuel production or consumption.

International Repository in Support of Climate Action.

Intended to to help countries design and implement effective policies to achieve net-zero emissions, this database has indicators on environmental, economic, financial, and social dimensions of climate change from OECD countries. Some tables of trends are presented but the data can also be accessed by country and sector, showing each country's energy mix, and the policies they use such as carbon pricing, subsidies, and investment in renewable energy.

Policy Instruments for the Environment (PINE) Database.

This database is searchable by country, industry, type of economic instrument (e.g. tax, tradable permit, refund, etc.), and by "environmental domain", such as climate change. It covers over 90 countries and six types of policy instruments. Searches by country reveal over 3,000 different specific policy instruments, including provincial programs in Canada. The results can be viewed on a web page or as an Excel file.

United Nations:

UNEP. World Environment Situation Room -- Climate Change.

This is a global project for environmental policy makers, with geo-referenced, remote sensing, and earth observation information combined with statistics and data on the environmental aspects of sustainable development. The Climate Change topic page has key indicators and trends, tables and interactive graphs of climate change variables, and links to related reports.

UNFCCC Secretariat. GHG Data.

This site provides access to the greenhouse gas emissions data reported by all countries under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), including the detailed country reports as well as tables that allow for easy comparisons over time, by category, type of gas, etc. Details on GHG Data and Data Interface Help available here.

UNEP. Global Environment Outlook (GEO Reports). 6th edition, 2019: GEO 6.

GEO Reports are the United Nations Environment Programme's flagship environmental assessments since 1997. They are global state of the environment reports with statistics and analysis.

UNSD. Environmental Indicators.

Global environment statistics on ten indicator themes include GHG and climate change statistics compiled by the UN Statistical Division.

See also UNEP's Emissions Gap Report described under Annual Reviews.

World Bank Group:

Climate Change:

Data for developing countries includes climate systems, exposure to climate impacts, resilience, greenhouse gas emissions,  energy, water, and land use, etc. The Climate Change Knowledge Portal has global data on historical and future climate, vulnerabilities, and impacts, viewable by country or watershed, and national policy documents. The Carbon Pricing Dashboard has details on carbon pricing initiatives around the world.


Overview & Background Information

One of the easiest and most engaging ways to learn about climate change in general, is to visit the NASA website: Global Climate Change: Vital Signs of the Planet

A key site for understanding what climate change is, the evidence, causes, effects, and solutions. Historical and the most current global data are presented in clear and engaging ways with graphs, images, videos, and interactive features.

Encyclopedias | Annual Reviews | Textbooks | Parliamentary and Legislative Research Papers


The Canadian Encyclopedia. Historica Canada. Has articles on climate change and related issues:

"Climate Change" By Debra Davidson. Updated Nov. 2018.

"Carbon Pricing in Canada" By Sebastian Leck and Shawn McCarthy. Updated Apr. 2021.

"Energy Policy" By François Bregha. Updated Oct. 2014.

Climate Atlas of Canada. By Prairie Climate Centre. Version 2, 2019.

This is an interactive encyclopedia combining text, maps, graphs, videos and data. Clear text explains what climate change is, its effects in Canada and individual communities. Users can explore specific topics and generate maps and data for specific regions, provinces, and cities in Canada.

The Atlas of Climate Change: Mapping the World's Greatest Challenge. By Kirstin Dow and Thomas E. Downing. U. of California Press, 2011. 128 p. (Ebook version available through EBSCO.)

An encyclopedia of climate change globally, with lots of maps, charts and other graphics. The text clearly explains the main topics and issues of climate change. Also has a glossary and extensive list of sources useful for updating the data.

Encyclopedia of Global Warming and Climate Change. Ed. by George S. Philander. Sage Publications, 2nd edition, 2012. 3 volumes, 1686 p.  

Intended for high school and undergraduate level students. Articles cover major topics, and one for each country and each state in the U.S., biographies of major climatologists, and profiles of organizations. Most have references to further reading.

Encyclopedias | Annual Reviews | Textbooks | Parliamentary and Legislative Research Papers

Annual Reviews:

Annual Synthesis Report on the Status of Implementation: Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change. Environment and Climate Change Canada, Dec. 2017 - .

These reports outline the progress made each year by the federal, provincial, and territorial governments in implementing Canada's climate plan announced in 2016, the Pan-Canadian Framework. The annex lists actions in chart form by government, organized around the four pillars: pricing carbon pollution; other actions to reduce emissions; adaptation and climate resilience; and clean technology, innovation, and jobs.

See also  the Annual Reports of the federal, provincial, and territorial government departments responsible for climate change policy, e.g. Environment and Climate Change Canada, federally. (See links under Clarifying -- General Facts.) These are the main accountability documents for government departments to inform the public of their work.

The Annual Reports of federal government departments and some federal agencies, currently called Departmental Plans and Departmental Results Reports, also must include reporting on how the departments are contributing to the Federal Sustainable Development Strategy. See more details on government reports under Primary Sources -- Written -- Government.

Climate Transparency Report.

Climate Transparency is a global partnership of organizations. It publishes the annual Climate Transparency Report (previously known as "Brown to Green Report”), a comprehensive overview of all G20 countries' commitments to transition to a net-zero emissions economy. The report is based on 100 indicators on decarbonisation, climate policies, finance, vulnerability to the impacts of climate change, etc. 

Emissions Gap Report. United Nations Environment Programme. 11th ed., 2020:

Prepared by a team of international scientists, this is an annual review of where greenhouse gas emissions are predicted to be in 2030 given the existing trends and countries' reduction pledges and policies, and where they should be to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.

Encyclopedias | Annual Reviews | Textbooks | Parliamentary and Legislative Research Papers

Textbooks (Selected Titles):

The Canadian Environment in Political Context. By Andrea Olive. 2nd ed. U. of Toronto Press, 2019. 416 p.

Designed for undergraduates, this textbook covers how policy is made, and key environmental issues in Canada, with case studies that include energy policy and climate change.

Canadian Environmental Policy and Politics: The Challenges of Austerity and Ambivalence. Ed. by Debora  Van Nijnatten. 4th ed. Oxford U. Press, 2016. 357 p.

Designed for advanced undergraduates, chapters by authoritative researchers cover the political context for most areas of environmental policy in Canada. Includes case studies on climate change policy, renewables policy, the oil sands and the fossil fuel economy.

Carbon Province, Hydro Province: The Challenge of Canadian Energy and Climate Federalism. By Douglas MacDonald. University of Toronto Press, 2020. 336 p.

The author, senior lecturer emeritus, School of the Environment, University of Toronto, provides an overview of Canadian energy and climate politics, and analyzes the five attempts at a national policy on energy and climate change in Canada, drawing  lessons on how to put an effective national energy and climate change program in place.

Climate Change Policy in North America: Designing Integration in a Regional System. Ed. by Neil Craik, Isabel Studer, and Debora VanNijnatten. University of Toronto Press, 2013. 376 p.

This book's authors examine emerging climate cooperation initiatives such as emissions trading, climate finance, standards harmonization, smart grids, trade rules, etc. and whether these could become an integrated North American climate governance system.

Environmental Law. By Jamie Benidickson. 5th ed. Irwin Law, 2019. 496 p.

A comprehensive introduction to environmental law in Canada. Includes federal and provincial climate change action following the 2015 Paris Agreement.

Fossilized: Environmental Policy in Canada's Petro-Provinces. By Angela V. Carter. UBC Press, 2020. 244 p.

A detailed analysis of environmental policy in Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada's largest oil-producing provinces.

Green-Lite: Complexity in Fifty Years of Canadian Environmental Policy, Governance, and Democracy. By Bruce Doern, Graeme Auld & Christopher Stoney. McGill-Queens University Press, 2015. 440 p.

An in-depth, historical examination of Canadian environmental policy, governance and politics since 1960. Helpful for understanding the Canadian context for climate change policy. The section specifically on climate change policy looks at Canada's role in relation to US and global developments.

An Introduction to Environmental Law and Policy in Canada. By Paul Muldoon et. al. 3rd ed. Emond Publishing, 2020. 366 p.

Authored by professors, this textbook covers the Canadian legal framework, the relationship between Canadian and international law, environmental protection regulatory tools, and more. Includes sections on carbon taxes, and the transition to green energy.

The Law of Climate Change in Canada. By Dennis Mahony. Carswell/Thomson Reuters. Ebook subscription only. Updated semi-annually.

Provides detailed description and analysis of Canadian federal and provincial, and international laws and policy developments addressing climate change in Canada.

Thirty Years of Failure: Understanding Canadian Climate Policy. By Robert MacNeil. Fernwood Publishing, 2019. 192 p.

This book examines Canada's climate change policy, and the reasons for its failure. The author also suggests policies and strategies to make Canada a global leader in fighting climate change.

Encyclopedias | Annual Reviews | Textbooks | Parliamentary and Legislative Research Papers

Parliamentary and Legislative Research Papers:

Carbon Pricing Policy in Canada. By Jesse Good. In Brief No. 2018-07-E. Ottawa: Library of Parliament, Parliamentary Information and Research Service, 2018. 13 p.

Written when the federal government was proposing national carbon pricing legislation in 2018, this guide explains what carbon pricing is, how it works, and describes the federal, provincial and territorial pricing systems in place or under consideration at that time.

Climate Change: Its Impact and Policy Implications. Background Paper No. 2019-46-E. Ottawa: Library of Parliament, Parliamentary Information and Research Service, 2020. 44 p.

Discusses policy implications of climate change impacts on eight aspects of Canadian society: health, human rights, migration, food security, economy, employment, national security, and transportation infrastructure.

Climate Change Negotiations: The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Context. By Tim Williams. Background Paper 2014-03-E. Ottawa: Library of Parliament, Parliamentary Information and Research Service. Revised 2015. 11 p.

This backgrounder summarizes the scientific, political, and historical context of the UNFCCC negotiations. The Appendix shows Canada's climate change commitments (1992-2015) under the UN Framework.