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Canadian Govt. & Politics: Climate Change Policy -- Finding & Evaluating

The general sources for finding information on contemporary Canadian government and politics covered in the main portion of this guide should also be used for this topic. The following are some more specialized tools for finding information on climate change policy and related issues.

Finding Sources

Core Journals:

The following are some key academic journals for research on Canadian climate change policy, energy policy, and related issues. These should be consulted in addition to the list of core journals in the main part of this guide. Although there are few Canadian academic journals specific to this topic, there are many on the broader topics of environmental policy and climate change that frequently include articles on climate change policy in Canada. (See the indexes and databases tab for doing broader searches.)

Canadian Journals:

Alternatives Journal. Environmental Studies Association of Canada. Alternatives Media Inc. (Title and publisher vary.) 1971 - . ISSN: 1205-7398.

Description: This is the refereed journal of the Environmental Studies Association of Canada (ESAC) with a mandate to provide critical and informed analysis of environmental issues including social and political dimensions, reflecting a Canadian perspective. The number of issues per year varies. 
Includes: Research articles, book and film reviews, conference reports, critical essays, opinions and more.
Indexed in: Alternative Press Index, AltPressWatch, CBCA, CPI, EBSCO Environment Complete, Ecological Abstracts, Environment Abstracts, GEOBASE, ProQuest databases, and others.
Tips: Some print issues do not include article reference lists; these can be found on the website.

Journal of Environmental Law and Practice. Toronto: Carswell. 1990 - . 2-4 issues/year. ISSN: 1181-7534.

Description: A peer-reviewed journal that covers current issues in environmental law and policy in Canada.
Includes: Research articles and book reviews.
Indexed in: CBCA, ProQuest Central, Westlaw, etc.


Carbon and Climate Law Review. Lexxion. (Issue #3 has "Current Developments" summarizing the legislation in Canada.)
Climate Policy. Elsevier.
Climatic Change. Springer.
Energy & Environment. Sage.
Energy Policy. Elsevier.
Environmental Politics. Taylor & Francis.
Environmental Science & Policy. Elsevier.
Global Environmental Change: Human and Policy Dimensions. Elsevier.
Global Environmental Politics. MIT Press.
International Journal of Climate Change Strategies and Management. Emerald Group.
Local Environment. Taylor & Francis.
Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change. Springer.
Nature Climate Change. Springer.


Indexes & Databases:
Indexes and databases useful for finding articles on Canadian government and politics in general are listed in the main section of this guide. The following is a select list of indexes and databases that can provide additional access to journals and research papers on this topic and related issues:

Environment Complete. EBSCO. (Subscription database.)

Description: A database that indexes over 2,000 international environmental journals and provides the full text articles from approximately half of them. 
Coverage:  Varies by title; some from the 1940's to the present.
Includes: Peer-reviewed academic journals, magazines, conference papers, videos, and a few reference books
Tip: Searches can be limited before or after a search by source type: "Scholarly (Peer Reviewed) Journals".


Description: A free index with abstracts; also has full text of open access sources.
Coverage:  Varies by title.
Includes: Scholarly and general interest journals, magazines and government reports.
Tip: For best connectivity to full text academic journals, search within an EBSCO subscription database where available.

JSTOR Sustainability Collection. (Subscription database.)

Description: A thematic collection within JSTOR that spans several disciplines. Topics covered include Canadian and international climate and energy policy, natural resource law, renewable energy, etc.
Coverage:  Varies by title; journals available from first issue but lag 3-4 years. Reports include current years.
Includes: 115 journals and over 5,400 reports from international policy institutes and other organizations.
Tip: To limit a JSTOR search to the Sustainability collection select "Browse"-- "By Subject" -- "Sustainability".

Nexis Uni. LexisNexis.New York. (Subscription database.)

Description: Within this large and diverse database of international news, legal, and business sources is a collection of full text Canadian academic law journals that can be searched as a separate collection.
Coverage: Varies by title; most from the 1990s to the present.
Includes: Over forty law journals from the major universities in Canada, and others.
Tip:  Quick access: Scroll to near the bottom of the homepage and select under Canada: "Law Reviews & Journals".  To search environmental law journals from around the world select "Law Reviews" from the "Guided Search" box and after entering a keyword search, narrow results by "Practice Areas or Topics",  "Jurisdiction", etc.

Books and other Academic Work:
To find books, theses, conference papers, and publications by research institutes, and other organizations, use library catalogues. Additional sources are listed below.

Useful LC Subject Headings and Sub-headings: 

Carbon dioxide mitigation                                  
Climate change agreements
Climate change mitigation                          -- law and legislation -- Ontario
Climatic changes                                        -- government policy -- Canada 
Energy policy                                             -- political aspects
Environmental policy
Fossil fuels

Greenhouse gas mitigation                  
Global warming
Global warming prevention


Searching catalogues with the controlled vocabulary used by cataloguers (ie. subject headings), should help you find fewer, but more relevant resources. 

Most catalogues allow keyword searching in the subject field, so words from different headings and sub-headings can be mixed together, e.g. kw in subject field: climate change and policy and canada.

Each measure or type of policy may also have a subject heading (e.g. carbon taxes, emissions trading, etc.).

Combine subject searching with keyword searching for maximum results.

Conference Papers:
Besides the papers published from conferences of the Canadian Political Science Association, universities, research institutes and others periodically organize conferences from which the presentations are published. To find these, search your library catalogue or the National Union Catalogue, Voilà using the appropriate subject heading and the sub-heading "congresses" (e.g. climatic changes -- Atlantic provinces -- congresses).

Canadian government-sponsored conferences include annual federal-provincial-territorial conferences of Ministers responsible for the environment, energy, natural resources, etc., from which public documents are sometimes made available. Government departments, and agencies, Royal Commissions, and other fact-finding task forces or working groups may also host conferences and publish proceedings or a summary report. An example:

Environmental Assessment, Climate Change Research and Policy Implications in the Arctic: Report of the Canada-European Union Symposium, March 15-16, 2004, Brussels, Belgium. Ed. by Steven C. Bigras and Vickie McCoy. Published by the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade and the Canadian Polar Commission.

The Government of Canada hosted the first international conference on climate change in June 1988:

The Changing Atmosphere: Implications for Global Security, Toronto, Canada June 27-30, 1988. Conference Proceedings. Geneva : Secretariat of the World Meteorological Organization, 1989, 483 p.



Many excellent theses have been written in Canadian universities on the topic of climate change policy and politics,  and related issues. Search the Theses Canada Portal for these. Library and Archives Canada maintains a collection of every M.A. and PhD thesis written at Canadian universities. Where a link to an online thesis is not available, and for print theses, request an inter-library loan through your library.  Most universities also maintain a collection of the electronic theses written at their institution. Some are accessible through their institutional repositories.

Research Reports:

See the "Research Organizations" tab for examples of organizations that publish research on this topic.

Current Events / News:


Clean Energy Canada News. Vancouver, BC: Centre for Dialogue, Simon Fraser University.

Provides news articles on the shift to clean energy in Canada. You can sign up to receive these, or the weekly newsletter: Clean Energy Review, by email. -- Air and Climate.

A platform since 1997 for sharing environmental news, events, and stories from across Canada. Articles can be viewed by theme, such as Air and Climate, Energy, etc., or by province and territory.

The Narwhal -- Climate Change.

This independent nonprofit based in Victoria, BC, has won numerous awards for its investigative reporting on the natural world. Articles on climate change can be viewed under this link. Subscribing to the weekly newsletter is free.


Carbon Brief: Clear on Climate.

This award-winning, UK-based site covers the latest developments in climate science, climate policy, and energy policy. They publish articles, science explainers, infographics, interviews, analysis, factchecks, and a series of Country Profiles of the key emitting countries in the world, including Canada. The "Daily Briefing" has links to each day's climate and energy headlines from many important and respected newspapers, journals, and websites.


See also the websites of the government departments, advocacy groups and research organizations involved with environment, natural resources, energy, etc. and look for "What's New", press releases, media rooms, newsletters, events calendars, and contact information. You may also be able to subscribe to an emailed version of their newsletters or press releases. See Primary Sources -- What's Happening Now in this Special Topics guide and in the main part of this guide for more details and examples.

Government Information:

Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) is currently the main federal government department responsible for climate change policy and programs. The department was founded in 1971 as Environment Canada and changed to ECCC in 2015. For more details on the history of the department and its ministers, opposition critics, etc., see Departments and Roles, 1867 to Today by the Library of Parliament.

Search the website for current information on the department, and the federal government's climate change policies and programs. At the bottom of the homepage are departmental publications like the Minister's mandate, and under "Transparency", the annual departmental plans and results reports, internal audits and evaluations, reports tabled in Parliament, etc. The link described as a "Catalogue of ECCC Publications" links to an incomplete selection of documents captured by Publishing and Depository Services Directorate in the Government of Canada Publications Catalogue. This can be searched by keyword and authoring body, but it does not provide a clear or complete list of publications. There is no easy way to know what ECCC information exists currently, or has been published in the past, on climate change. A promising link called: "Climate Change Publications":  had (in June 2021) only three documents: 2014 Emissions Trends, 2016 Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reference Case, and a 2016 publication on climate modelling: Climate Data and Scenarios for Canada.)

The main page on climate change links to several others, which each link to selected publications and broken links: "Climate Change":

There are several other government departments and agencies involved in Canada's climate change response. They also have web pages dedicated to climate change, and some publications listed. For example:

Natural Resources Canada. Key department responsible for energy policy. See web pages: Climate Change and Climate Change Publications and Energy Publications. The department also has a database of NRCan reports and other publications by the department and its scientists (includes mostly scientific papers): GEOSCAN, and a separate searchable database of the Canadian Forest Service Publications.

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. Climate Change and Agriculture

Global Affairs. Canada's Efforts to Promote Global Environmental Protection: Canada's International Action on Climate Change, Polar Issues, and Conservation

Health Canada. Climate Change and Health

Follow the links at these and other government pages or search the site as a whole to find more federal government information on climate change. Examples of some key publications are in Selected Primary Sources -- What was Written.

Departmental/Agency Libraries:

Environment and Climate Change Canada has a few remaining libraries, and their holdings can be searched as the ECCC library holdings alone, or together with the other five libraries that make up the Federal Science Libraries Network:  Canadian Agriculture Library, Fisheries & Oceans Canada Library, Health Library, National Research Council, and Natural Resources Canada Library.)

ECCC LIbraries and Federal Science Libraries Network:

Federal Science Libraries Network Catalogue:

Canada Energy Regulator (CER) Library (formerly NEB):

Canada is a member of many international government organizations that advocate action on climate change (e.g. UN, IEA, OECD, etc.). The publications of these organizations can be valuable research material as they compile and analyze information from and about their member countries on climate policies and action. See the IGOs listed under "Finding Information -- Research Organizations".

Canada also participates in over 100 international environmental agreements. A list of these, with brief summaries is updated periodically by the federal government: Compendium of Canada's Engagement in International Environmental Agreements and Instruments.

The provinces, territories, and local governments also have responsibility for contributing to Canada's climate change response. See the List of Provincial / Territorial Government Climate Change Websites under Clarifying -- Facts & Figures -- General.

Search the local government websites for their climate change plans. The Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM), also posts case studies and action plans from thousands of municipalities across the country.

Many government bodies publish research reports and other documents examining climate policy issues. Some of the most recent ones published by the currently existing governments will be available on their websites. Check your library catalogue, the National Union Catalogue Voilà, a large provincial research or legislative library, or the city's municipal library, for documents published in earlier years. Library and Archives Canada also has collections of the records of federal departments and agencies, and some web-based information has been preserved in the Internet Archive and other archiving projects. More details and some examples are given in Selected Primary Sources - What was Written.

Briefs to Committees: One of the important ways in which government agencies, as well as research organizations, advocacy, and interest groups advise and lobby government is to submit briefs to Senate and House of Commons committees, advising them on the impact of proposed legislation, or of their views on issues under study. These briefs or reports may be found online as publications by the authoring group, or on the Parliament of Canada website as part of the "Evidence" of parliamentary committees.

See Selected Primary Sources -- What was Written for more details and examples of these and other government documents and their finding aids.

Political Party Information:
Besides statements made to the press, or in Parliament, or briefs submitted to committees, political parties might include statements on their climate change policy ideas in their platform or principles documents. Parties may also form task forces or special committees to consider these. See the sources listed in the main part of this guide for finding news items, Parliamentary information, party platforms, etc. Some separately published documents are also available in libraries and political party archives.

See Selected Primary Sources for examples.

Research Organizations:
Organizations that conduct and publish research on policy alternatives for fighting climate change are too numerous to mention. The following are some of the main Canadian organizations that publish research on climate change policy and related policy issues in Canada and some examples of their reports:

Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA).

An independent, non-partisan, non-profit research institute since 1980, concerned with issues of social, economic, and environmental justice. Their Climate Justice Project, in partnership with UBC, addresses climate policy from a social justice perspective. The Corporate Mapping Project, in partnership with the University of Victoria and the Parkland Institute, investigates the power of the fossil fuel industry in Western Canada. Some examples of their research publications:

Big Oil's Political Reach: Mapping Fossil Fuel Lobbying From Harper to Trudeau. By N. Graham, W. Carroll, & D. Chen. 2019. 64 p.
Heating Up, Backing Down: Evaluating Recent Climate Policy Progress in Canada. By Hadrian Mertins-Kirkwood. 2019. 48 p.
Payback Time? What the Internationalization of Climate Litigation Could Mean for Canada. By A. Gage & M. Byers. 2014. 64 p.
Roadmap to a Just Transition Act: A Path to a Clean and Inclusive Economy. By Hadrian Mertins-Kirkwood & Clay Duncalfe. 2021. 52 p.
Winding Down BC's Fossil Fuel Industries: Planning for Climate Justice in a Zero-Carbon EconomyBy M. Lee & S. Klein. 2020. 44 p.

Canadian Climate Institute. (Formerly Canadian Institute for Climate Choices)

An independent, pan-Canadian collaboration of experts established in 2019 and partly funded by Environment and Climate Change Canada to do research and provide analysis of climate policy choices.

Canada's Net Zero Future: Finding Our Way in the Global Transition. 2021. 132 p.
Clean Growth in Nova Scotia. 2020. 27 p.
The Health Costs of Climate Change: How Canada can Adapt, Prepare, and Save Lives.
2021. 65 p. & Technical Report: Costing Climate Change Impacts on Human Health Across Canada: Final Report. By Essa Technologies Ltd., 2020. 184 p.

Clean Energy Canada.

A climate and clean energy program in the Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue, Simon Fraser University. They conduct and commission research on clean energy and related policy matters. Publications include submissions to government and research reports. Some examples:

Building on the Best: How Adopting Top Provincial Climate Policies Across Canada Could Drive Clean Growth. 2016. 12 p. & Technical Report: Mitigating Climate Change Through Electrification. By Navius Research. 2016. 17 p.
Building the Future: How Smart Public Infrastructure Decisions can cut Pollution, Save Money, & Support a Clean Economy. 2019 12 p.
The Fast Lane: Tracking the Energy Revolution 2019. 15 p. & Technical Report: Quantifying Canada's Clean Energy Economy. By Navius Research. 2019 42 p.
Taking the Wheel: How Canada can cut Carbon Pollution and Revitalize its Auto Sector. Dec. 2020. 20 p.

Climate Action Network Canada - Réseau Action Climat Canada (CAN-Rac Canada).

A network of over 100 organizations working on climate change and energy issues, CAN-Rac Canada is part of the international climate action network. The website features publications from member groups, but also publishes some reports:

Dirty Oil Diplomacy: The Canadian Government's Global Push to Sell the Tar Sands. 2012. 31 p.
Fueling the Problem: Why it is Time to End Tax Breaks to Oil, Coal and Gas Companies in Canada. 2010. 11 p.
Getting Real About Canada's Climate Plan. 2019. 14 p.

David Suzuki Foundation.

A national non-profit environmental organization founded in 1990 and based in Vancouver. It engages in evidence-based research, education and policy analysis to protect the environment. Examples of their publications:

All Over the Map 2012: A Comparison of Provincial Climate Change Plans. 2012. 103 p.
Building on the Best: Keeping Canada's Climate Promise. By Ian Bruce and Ryan Kadowaki. 2014. 10 p.
Canadian Solutions: Practical and Affordable Steps to Fight Climate Change. With the Pembina Institute. 1998. 102 p.
The Case for Deep Reductions: Canada's Role in Preventing Dangerous Climate Change. 2005. 56 p.

Sustainability Within a Generation: A New Vision for Canada. By David Boyd. 2004. 52 p.
Zeroing in on Emissions: Canada's Clean Power Pathways -- A Review. By Tom L. Green. 2019. 67 p.

Environmental Defence.

A non-partisan environmental advocacy organization founded in 1984, it also conducts research and publishes reports and guides for the public. Some examples:

Drawing From Despots: How Alberta is Using Tactics Borrowed from Russia, Kuwait and Others to try to Silence Opposition to Oil and Gas Expansion. 2021. 10 p.
The Logging Loophole: How the Logging Industry's Unregulated Carbon Emissions Undermine Canada's Climate Goals. 2020. 20 p.

Paying Polluters: Federal Financial Support to Oil and Gas in 2020. 2021. 14 p.
Towards Canada's Fair Share: New Research on Achieving a Stronger Climate Target. Backgrounder. 2021. 6 p.

Federation of Canadian Municipalities.

The FCM represents close to 2,000 local governments across Canada, providing funding and advice on environmental projects. Their resource library contains online guides, reports, case studies, tools, videos, and webinar recordings, and can be limited by topic, e.g. "Climate Change". Some examples:

Act Locally: The Municipal Role in Fighting Climate Change. By EnviroEconomics. 2009. 15 p.
GMF Municipal Energy Roadmap: A Guide to Help Canadian Municipalities Prioritize and Tackle Deep Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reductions in Municipal and Community Buildings.
2020. 280 p.
Investing in Canada's Future: The Cost of Climate Adaptation at the Local Level. Final Report. With Insurance Bureau of Canada. 2020. 59 p.
National Measures Report 2019: How Canadian Cities and Communities are Taking Action on Climate Change. With ICLEI -- Local Governments for Sustainability. 2020. 25p.
Small and Rural Communities Climate Action Guidebook. With ICLEI -- Local Governments for Sustainability. 2021. 56 p.

ICLEI Local Governments for Sustainability Canada.

The Canadian part of a global network of over 1,750 local and regional governments committed to sustainable urban development. The website has links to webinars, workshops, case studies, guides, research papers and more. With the FCM, they manage the Partners for Climate Protection Program for municipalities taking action against climate change and reducing local greenhouse gas emissions. Publications include:

Guidance on Good Practices in Climate Change Risk Assessment. For CCME, 2021, 48 p.
Leadership and Legacy: Handbook for Local Elected Officials on Climate Change. 2012, 40 p.

Indigenous Climate Action.

An Indigenous-led organization founded in 2015 by Alberta Indigenous women. It connects and supports Indigenous communities in their work to fight climate change and highlights the importance of Indigenous knowledge and rights in finding climate solutions. An important research project is a critical analysis of Canada’s recent climate policy and plans: the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change (PCF) and A Healthy Environment, A Healthy Economy (HEHE). The first phase of the Decolonizing Climate Policy in Canada project is the report: 

Decolonizing Climate Policy in Canada. March 2021. 64 p.

Pembina Institute.

A national, nonpartisan think tank since the 1980's that uses evidence-based research to advocate for a clean energy transition. Climate policy is one of their major issue areas. Publication examples:

All Hands on Deck: An Assessment of Provincial, Territorial and Federal Readiness to Deliver a Safe Climate. 2021. 62 p.
The Oilsands in a Carbon-constrained Canada: The Collision Course Between Overall Emissions and National Climate Commitments. 2020. 56 p.

Sustainable Finance for a Safe Climate: Perspectives on Mobilizing Capital for a Swift, Resilient Recovery. 2021. 38 p.

Videos and Films: CBC and Radio-Canada.
CBC and Radio-Canada's subscriber-based educational streaming service. Features news programs and documentaries. The Climate Change Collection has 37 videos from various CBC news programs and documentaries from The Nature of Things, Doc Zone, and The Passionate Eye.

National Film Board of Canada Catalogue.
The NFB online catalogue can be searched by keyword or browsed by genre such as "Documentary", or by subject. There are, however, a wide variety of subject tags that apply to the films on climate change and related issues and not all appear on the subject heading page. Some films are available free online; others only through subscription to NFB Campus, or as a DVD purchase.

See Climate Change Policy — Primary Sources - Recorded Images for selected videos.

Evaluating Sources

Please see Evaluating Information in the main part of this guide.

Additional tips:

Misinformation spread by the oil & gas industry and others is so pervasive that a team of investigative journalists and researchers have created a database to help evaluate sources:  DeSmog Climate Disinformation Database. Search by an organization or person's name to see information about them, documented quotes and actions, funding sources, and more. The Corporate Mapping Project can also help as it profiles the most powerful corporations involved in the fossil fuel industry in Canada, and shows their connections through senior executives and board members to other corporations, think tanks, industry groups, banks, and others.

Currency is especially important. Climate science is advancing quickly and showing that the climate crisis is accelerating. The massive environmental, social, and economic consequences are spurring changes in politics and government policy.