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Canadian Govt. & Politics: Climate Change Policy -- Primary Sources

Climate Change Policy: Selected Primary Sources and their Finding Aids

The following are selected key primary sources and examples of the kinds of primary sources available for the study of climate change policy in contemporary Canadian government and politics. They supplement the general sources listed in the main parts of this guide

What Was Said: (Quotations, speeches, interviews, hearings, in Parliament)

Government Sources:

Budget Speeches. 1867 to the present. ParlInfo. Library of Parliament.

The Budget Speech, made by the Finance Minister in the House of Commons, outlines the government's spending priorities and financial planning for the coming year. Where climate change is a priority, federal and provincial budget speeches will include funding for action. The federal Budget Speech is usually given in the spring in the House of Commons, with an interim version: "Economic and Fiscal Update" in the fall. This page on the ParlInfo website lists and links to all the federal budget speeches, with dates given, and the Minister of Finance delivering them. Additional materials published for recent budgets are available on the Dept. of Finance website. The Budget Speech is usually delivered late in the day and all budget documents (speech, plan, highlights, etc.) are available on the Dept. of Finance site shortly afterwards, including a live video broadcast of the Minister delivering the speech in the House of Commons. Other collections of budget speeches:

POLTEXT: Canadian Budget Speeches. Has federal budget speeches in pdf or word format, from 1958 to present.

POLTEXT: Provincial Budget Speeches. Has speeches in pdf or word format, from the 1960s or 70s to present.

Debates in Parliament.

Both the Budget Speech and the debate on it are published in the Debates. The number of days allowed for debate on the budget has varied over the years, currently limited to four, and they do not have to be consecutive. Debate usually begins on the day following the Budget Speech, with an opposition member, usually the finance critic, giving a speech and moving an amendment to the budget. During the Budget Speech the Minister may table "Ways and Means" motions to allow the government to impose new taxes, increase existing ones, or to allow for implementing new measures from the budget. These motions get voted on later in the House of Commons and if adopted become Ways and Means bills. Use LEGISinfo to find major speeches from all parties in the House of Commons on ways and means bills introduced since 2001. Use the Index to the Debates, or online "Publication Search Tool" to find debates on specific issues. Another option is to search:

LiPaD, Linked Parliamentary Data, a searchable collection of House of Commons Debates from 1901 to the present, digitized and maintained by the University of Toronto.

Estimates Hearings, Other Budget-Related Committee Hearings.

As each committee in the House of Commons considers the Estimates provided by departments and agencies related to the committee's mandate, they may call "witnesses" from the department to answer questions or explain certain aspects in more detail. They may also hear statements from professionals and members of the public. The statements, questions and answers are usually available as part of the Committee Evidence. For example, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development examines the reports of Environment and Climate Change Canada, Parks Canada, the Impact Assessment Agency, and the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development.

Throne Speeches (or Speech from the Throne). 1867 to the present. ParlInfo. Library of Parliament.

The government's statement of its intentions and priorities for the upcoming session. Where climate change action is a priority, it should be mentioned in the Throne Speech, such as BC's Feb. 2007 Throne Speech that included climate change initiatives. Federal and provincial Throne Speeches appear in the Debates at the opening of each new session. Federal throne speeches are collected on the ParlInfo page above. Laval University's Center for Public Policy Analysis also has a collection of federal and provincial throne speeches, with some gaps:
POLTEXT:  Canadian Throne Speeches, 1960 to present.
POLTEXT: Canadian Provinces Throne Speeches, 1960 to present.

Speeches, Statements, Press Releases by federal and provincial Ministers of the Environment, Natural Resources, Energy, etc.

All federal government department and agency websites have a section for the Ministers' speeches and statements, and for the department or agency's press releases which often report on the Minister making announcements or speeches. The official Government of Canada website also has a combined News page that allows you to search for speeches and statements by topic, keyword, and department: Search library catalogues for years predating the material available on websites. See Finding & Evaluating - Government Information for links to the key federal and provincial/territorial websites for this topic. 

Political Parties:

Political Party Convention Speeches, News Conferences, etc.

CPAC's video archive includes speeches by government and political party leaders, and can be searched by keyword.

Other news media such as the CBC cover national political party conventions too, quoting or sometimes reproducing speeches and reporting on the decisions made. An example is the March 2021 national Conservative Party convention where the policy proposal to affirm that climate change is real and that the party is willing to act was turned down by delegates.


1972 Stockholm Conference: Opening Statement. By Maurice Strong. June 1972.

Canadian environmental diplomat and Secretary-General of the first United Nations meeting on the environment, Maurice Strong opened the Stockholm Conference with a speech on the need for global action to protect the planet that is still inspiring decades later. It was included in the 2006 book edited by Alan Tal: Speaking of Earth: Environmental Speeches that Moved the World. This and many of his other speeches are available on the Maurice Strong Foundation website:

Beyond Rio: A New Role for Canada. By Maurice Strong. O.D. Skelton Memorial Lecture, Vancouver, Nov. 10, 1992. 54 p.

In this speech, part of an External Affairs and International Trade Canada lecture series, Maurice Strong tries to encourage the government to commit to sustainable development as the basis for Canada's foreign aid as well as for Canada's own benefit.

Investing in Net-Zero Climate Solutions Creates Value and Rewards. Mark Carney Interview.

Mark Carney, UN Special Envoy on Climate Action and Finance, and former Governor of the Bank of Canada and the Bank of England, speaks on the  urgency of getting to net zero emissions, and the power of the financial sector, private companies, and investors in reaching that goal.

See also Recorded Images for interviews and speeches on film and tape.

What Was Written:

Political Party Publications | Government Publications | Law and Court Reports

Political Party Publications: (Campaign literature, special collections)

Electronic Manifestos Canada. POLTEXT. Center for Public Policy Analysis, Laval University.

A digitized collection of federal and provincial party platforms from the major political parties in Canada, with some holdings  from 1945 to the present. You can search the collection for references to climate change issues. (A search on POLTEXT also includes some government  sources such as Throne Speeches, budget-related speeches, and Auditor General reports.)

Individual examples:

Building a Sustainable Future for Canada: Stéphane Dion's Energy and Climate Change Plan. By Stéphane Dion, Liberal Party of Canada, 2006. 54 p. (Leadership campaign.)

Green Party Climate Plan: A New Energy Revolution to Avert Climate Catastrophe. Green Party of Canada, June 2007. 14 p.

The Green Shift: Building a Canadian Economy for the 21st Century. Liberal Party of Canada, 2008. 34 p. (Was incorporated into the party's 2008 platform.)

Sustainability Within a Generation: A Kyoto Plan to Clean our Air, Fight Climate Change, and Create Jobs. Ottawa: New Democratic Party, [2005].

2021 Federal Election Campaign Major Political Parties' Climate Change Plans:

Conservative Party: Secure the Environment 
Green Party: A Green Future
Liberal Party: A Cleaner, Greener Future
NDP:  Protecting our Air, Land, and Water, Securing our Future


Political Party Publications | Government Publications | Law and Court Reports

Government Publications: (Royal Commission reports, task force reports, government department and agency reports, policy papers, Parliamentary documents, law and court reports)

Royal Commission Reports | Task Force Reports | Government Department and Agency Reports | Policy Papers | Parliamentary Documents | Law and Court Reports

Royal Commissions and Related Reports:

Royal Commissions and Commissions of Inquiry are established by the federal and provincial governments to investigate important issues or to provide advice to government. There have been some on specific natural resource issues, but none specifically on climate change.

Royal Commission Reports | Task Force Reports | Government Department and Agency Reports | Policy Papers | Parliamentary Documents | Law and Court Reports

Task Force Reports:

Clean Growth and Climate Change Working Groups. Established by First Ministers, 2016.

On March 3, 2016 in the Vancouver Declaration, Canada's Premiers committed to develop and implement policies that will help Canada meet or exceed the emission reduction commitments made in the Paris Agreement, and to transition the country to a more resilient, low-carbon economy. Four working groups of federal, provincial and territorial officials were established to consult, examine and report on policy options. Their reports were submitted in the fall of 2016 and form the basis of the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change. All are available at the link above:
Working Group on Adaptation and Climate Resilience: Final Report. 53 p.
Working Group on Carbon Pricing Mechanisms: Final Report.  60 p.
Working Group on Clean Technology, Innovation and Jobs: Final Report. 104 p.
Working Group on Specific Mitigation Opportunities: Final Report. 207 p.

Climate Change and Sustainable Forest Management in Canada: A Guidebook for Assessing Vulnerability and Mainstreaming Adaptation into Decision Making. By J. E. Edwards et al. Canadian Council of Forest Ministers, Climate Change Task Force, 2015. 160 p.

The CCFM identified climate change as one of two priority issues for Canada's forest sector in 2008. This guidebook is one of several publications in their climate change adaptation series, which also includes technical reports and review papers.

Global Warming Report. Energy, Mines and Resources Canada, Climate Change Task Force. Quarterly. Aug. 1992 - June 1993.

A Just and Fair Transition for Canadian Coal Power Workers and Communities. Report of the Task Force on Just Transition for Canadian Coal Power Workers and Communities. Chairs: Hassan Yussuff and Lois Corbett. December 2018. 41 p.

Launched by the Minister of Environment and Climate Change Canada, the mandate of the task force was to recommend ways to support Canadian coal power workers and communities given Canada's commitment to phase out traditional coal-fired electricity by 2030. The Task Force webpage includes the task force members, terms of reference, and related links including to the complementary report: What We Heard From Canadian Coal Power Workers and Communities.

Manitoba and Climate Change: Investing in Our Future: Report of the Manitoba Climate Change Task Force. Chair, Lloyd Axworthy. Winnipeg: Manitoba Clean Environment Commission, 2001. 63 p.

Royal Commission Reports | Task Force Reports | Government Department and Agency Reports | Policy Papers | Parliamentary Documents | Law and Court Reports

Government Department and Agency Reports:

The Government of Canada has taken a "whole-of-government" approach to tackling climate change, so beyond the lead department, most other departments also publish climate change related information. See Finding & Evaluating -- Government Information for links to their climate change publication pages. Some examples of specific reports: (See also "Policy Paper" below.)

Environment and Climate Change Canada Publications.

ECCC (formerly Environment Canada), has a broad mandate. It is the lead federal department for a wide range of environmental issues, including climate change. Available from the homepage are some recent publications including the latest Departmental Performance Reports and Report on Plans and Priorities. Search library catalogues or Government of Canada Publications for older documents. Some examples:

Advisory Council on Climate Action. Final Report. By  Tamara Vrooman & Steven Guilbeault. Ottawa: ON, 2019. 18 p.
Canada's Changing Climate Report. Edited by E. Bush and D.S. Lemmon. Ottawa: ON, 2019. 444 p.
Global Warming: Implications for Canadian Policy. By C. Ian Jackson, 1992. 17 p.
The State of Canada's Climate: Temperature Change in Canada 1895-1991. By D. W. Gullett and W.R. Skinner. Ottawa: ON, 1992. 36 p.

Documents related to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). This Canadian Government page includes information on this legally binding agreement and links to the latest reports submitted by Canada. The UNFCCC website has all reports submitted by Canada as required by the agreement: Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) Reports, annual National Greenhouse Gas Inventory Submissions, Biennial reports, and the "National Communications" (Reports on climate actions taken to meet commitments, required every four years.) All UNFCCC-related documents can be searched and limited by country here:

Canada's National Report on Climate Change, from the first in 1994, are also archived by
1st report: 1994, 2nd: 1997, 3rd: 2001, 4th: 2006, 5th: 2010, 6th National Report and first Biennial: 2014, 7th National Report and third biennial, 2017.

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.

Agriculture and Climate Change. 2005. 11 p.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada

Framework for Incorporating Climate-Change Considerations into Fisheries Stock Assessments. 2019. 26 p.

Global Affairs Canada

Climate Finance: International Business Opportunities. 2018. 7 vols. of fact sheets.

Health Canada

Climate Change and Health and Well-being: A Policy Primer. 2001. 66 p.
Human Health in a Changing Climate: A Canadian Assessment of Vulnerabilities and Adaptive Capacity. Ed. by Jacinthe Séguin., 2008. 494 p.

National Research Council Canada

Climate-Resilient Buildings and Core Public Infrastructure: Summary of State-of-Practice and Knowledge Gaps on Climate Change Adaptation of Buildings and Core Public Infrastructure. 2019. 78 p.

Natural Resources Canada

Adapting to Climate Change: An Introduction for Canadian Municipalities. 2010. 48 p.
Canada in a Changing Climate: National Issues Report. Edited by Fiona J. Warren and Nicole Lulham. 2021. 734 p.
Canada's Marine Coasts in a Changing Climate. Edited by Donald S. Lemmen et al. 2016. 274 p.
Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation: A Canadian Perspective. 2004. 201 p.

Parks Canada

Canadian Parks and Protected Areas: Helping Canada Weather Climate Change. By the Canadian Parks Council Climate Change Working Group for the Canadian Parks Council. 2013. 52 p.

Public Health Agency of Canada

Science Narrative: Climate Change Impacts on the Health of Canadians. Office of the Chief Science Officer. 2017. 29 p.

Public Safety Canada

Case Studies on Climate Change in Floodplain Mapping. Volume 1. Co-published with Natural Resources Canada. 2018. 93 p.

Transport Canada

Climate Risks and Adaptation Practices for the Canadian Transportation Sector 2016. Ed. by Kathy C. Palka and Donald S. Lemmen, 2017. 309 p.

Other Government Organization Reports:

Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment Publications.

Climate change is one of the Canada-wide and intergovernmental issues on which the CCME focuses. Related publications including best practices, guidelines, etc. are listed here.

National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy. (1988 - 2013). NRTEE Publication Archive.

An independent policy advisory agency established in 1987 by the NRTEE Act, with members appointed by the government, to advise the federal government on sustainable development.

Climate Forward: A Next Step Policy Agenda for Canada. Report on the NRTEE's 20th Anniversary Forum: Securing Canada's Future in a Climate-Changing World. 2009, 40 p.
Climate Prosperity. Series of 9 reports on climate change published between 2010 and 2012. (Click on "Browse Issue Records").
Getting to 2050: Canada's Transition to a Low-Emission Future: Advice for Long-Term Reductions of Greenhouse Gases and Air Pollutants. 2007, 94 p.
Reality Check: The State of Climate Progress in Canada. 2012, 176 p.

Provincial / Territorial Equivalents. Each provincial and territorial government also has responsibility for climate change policy. See Climate Change Policy - Finding & Evaluating for links to their websites and tips to finding the documents they published.

See also "Policy Papers" below for examples of policy announcements by joint meetings of Energy and Environment Ministers and others.

Royal Commission Reports | Task Force Reports | Government Department and Agency Reports | Policy Papers | Parliamentary Documents | Law and Court Reports

Policy Papers:

Statements of government policy can appear in many forms: government press releases, speeches, reports, directives, mandate letters to Ministers, and various other kinds of documents, and are produced by all levels of government. Some examples:

2030 Emissions Reduction Plan: Canada's Next Steps for Clean Air and a Strong Economy. Environment & Climate Change Canada, 2022. 271 p.

2030 Plan for a Green Economy / Plan pour une économie verte 2030. Québec, 2020, 117 p.

Achieving a Sustainable Future: A Federal Sustainable Development Strategy for Canada, 2019 to 2022. Environment & Climate Change Canada, 2019. 135 p.

Previous sustainable development strategies, framework, related indicators, relation to the UN sustainable development goals, etc available here:

Climate Change Plan for Canada. Environment Canada, 2002. 67 p.

Government of Canada Action Plan 2000 on Climate Change. Government of Canada, 2000. 17 p.

The federal government's contribution to the First National Climate Change Business Plan, to be added to by the provinces and territories. The actions outlined, when fully implemented were expected to take Canada one third of the way to achieving the target established by the Kyoto Protocol.

Greenest City Action Plan. City of Vancouver, various dates.

This web page has Vancouver 2020: A Bright Green Future: An Action Plan for Becoming the World's Greenest City by 2020, published in 2009, 74 p., part two: Greenest City 2020 Action Plan, 2015. 93 p.and implementation updates and related information.

Greening Government Strategy: A Government of Canada Directive. Centre for Greening Government,  Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat, 2020.

This strategy applies to all core government departments and agencies. It  includes the commitment that all government operations reach net-zero emissions by 2050.

A Healthy Environment and a Healthy Economy: Canada's Strengthened Climate Plan to Create Jobs and Support People, Communities, and the Planet. Environment and Climate Change Canada, 2020. 79 p.

This federal climate plan, announced in December 2020, increases the emissions reduction target to net-zero by 2050.

Minister of Natural Resources Mandate Letter. Office of the Prime Minister, Dec. 16, 2021.

The PM's instructions to the Minister include several directives to address climate change, such as building a sustainable battery supply chain in Canada, improving EV charging infrastructure, grants for home retrofits, planting 2 billion trees, etc.

Moving Forward on Energy Efficiency in Canada: Achieving Results to 2020 and Beyond. Energy and Mines Ministers' Conference, 2012. 24 p.

Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change: Canada's Plan to Address Climate Change and Grow the Economy. Joint publication of the federal government, eight provinces and three territories, Dec. 2016. 78 p.

This agreement was a milestone for climate policy in Canada, constituting the first joint federal/provincial and territorial climate change plan. A key feature was a carbon tax. The provinces of Manitoba and Saskatchewan did not sign on.

Annual Synthesis Reports on the Status of Implementation:

Project Green -- Moving Forward on Climate Change: A Plan for Honouring Our Kyoto Commitment. Environment Canada, 2005. 55 p.

Regional Climate Change Initiative. New England Governors and Eastern Canadian Premiers.

Includes the Regional Climate Change Action Plan, 2021, following up on the plan from 2001 and a resolution to limit regional greenhouse gas emissions.

Renewable Energy Strategy: Creating a New Momentum. Natural Resources Canada. 1996. 16 p.

"A blueprint for cooperative action with other stakeholders to accelerate the development and, in particular, the commercialization of renewable energy technologies."--Minister's foreword.

Vancouver Declaration on Clean Growth and Climate Change. First Ministers. March 3, 2016.

An agreement by Canada's provincial and territorial Premiers to develop and implement policies that will help Canada meet or exceed the emission reduction commitments made in the Paris Agreement, and to transition the country to a more resilient, low-carbon economy. The commitments made in this declaration form the basis of the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change.

See also What is Happening Now for the "Our Environment" link to policy programs, and the Law and Legislation section below..

Royal Commission Reports | Task Force Reports | Government Department and Agency Reports | Policy Papers | Parliamentary Documents | Law and Court Reports

Parliamentary Documents:

Committee Reports: Standing parliamentary committees exist on important topics of ongoing concern such as the environment, finance, etc. They are independent of the related ministries and include members of both the governing party and others. Their studies and reports can be very useful research material.

The House of Commons Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development has existed under that name since 1994, formerly called the Standing Committee on Environment. The committee website: includes information on the committee, its members, meeting schedule, contact information, its studies, reports, news releases, a list of the witnesses who appeared before the committee, and the transcripts of the meetings, called "Evidence". You can also sign up for email notification of any new committee information to appear on the site. Sample committee reports:

Better Buildings for a Low-Carbon Future. Deborah Schulte, Chair. June 2018. 43 p.
Clean Growth and Climate Change in Canada: Forestry, Agriculture and Waste. John Aldag, Chair. April 2019. 71 p.
Clean Growth and Climate Change: How Canada can Lead Internationally. John Aldag, Chair. April 2019. 72 p.
Finding the Energy to Act: Reducing Canada's Greenhouse Gas Emissions. Alan Tonks, Chair. July 2005. 78 p.
Kyoto and Beyond: Meeting the Climate Change Challenge. Charles Caccia, Chair. Dec. 1997. 44 p.

Out of Balance: The Risks of Irreversible Climate Change. David MacDonald, Chair. March 1991. 107/113 p. (Eng/Fre)
The Road Ahead: Encouraging the Production and Purchase of Zero-Emission Vehicles in Canada. Francis Scarpaleggia, Chair. April 2021. 45 p.

The Senate Standing Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources has existed under this name since 1991. It was the Committee on Energy, in 1983, then Energy and Natural Resources from 1984. A Standing Committee on Natural Resources also existed from 1946 to 1968. The Committee website: has information on the committee, its members, meeting schedule, contact information, its studies, reports, news releases, a list of the witnesses who appeared before the committee, their briefs, and the transcripts of the meetings, called "Evidence". Some examples of committee reports:

Canada's Oil and Gas in a Low-Carbon Economy. Rosa Galvez, Chair. May 2018. 95 p.
Decarbonizing Heavy Industry: The Low-Carbon Transition of Canada's Emission-Intensive and Trade-Exposed Industries. Rosa Galvez, Chair. April 2018. 73 p.
Decarbonizing Transportation in Canada. Richard Neufield, Chair. June 2017. 65 p.
Positioning Canada's Electricity Sector in a Carbon Constrained Future. Richard Neufield, Chair. March 2017. 51 p.
Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Canada's Built Environment. Rosa Galvez, Chair. Nov. 2018. 95 p.

Other House of Commons and Senate committees have also produced reports on aspects of climate change. For example, 

House of Commons Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food:
Toward a Resilient Canadian Agriculture and Agri-food System: Adapting to Climate Change.
Pat Finnigan, Chair. May 2018. 59 p.

House of Commons Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans:
In Hot Water: Lobster and Snow Crab in Eastern Canada. Ken McDonald, Chair. 2019. 27p.

House of Commons Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates:
An Even Greener Government: Improving the Greening Government Strategy to Maximize its Impact.
Tom Lukiwski, Chair, June 2019. 48 p.

Senate Standing Committee on Agriculture and Forestry:
Climate Change: We Are at Risk. Final Report. Donald Oliver, Chair. Nov. 2003. 123 p.
Feast or Famine: Impacts of Climate Change and Carbon Pricing on Agriculture, Agri-food and Forestry. Diane Griffin, Chair. Dec. 2018. 76 p.

NOTE: Environmental groups, industry associations and others submit briefs to committees informing them of the impact of proposed legislation or to help develop legislation. These may be found as part of the committee Evidence, on the group's or committee's website, or in library catalogues by authoring body.

Other Parliamentary Documents: Use the Finding & Evaluating Government Information and Selected Primary Sources sections of the main part of this guide for more details on searching the Parliament of Canada website, or selected parts such as the Debates, Parliamentary Journals, etc. for bills, questions asked in Parliament, etc. Sample documents:

Reports of the Office of the Auditor General:

Fossil Fuel Subsidies: Independent Audit Report. Spring 2017, Report 7. 20 p.
Perspectives on Climate Change Action in Canada: A Collaborative Report from Auditors General. 2018. 39 p. (Summarizes reports from auditors general across the country to determine the extent to which federal, provincial, and territorial governments in Canada were meeting commitments to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and adapting to climate change.)

Reports of the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development, Office of the Auditor General of Canada:

Adapting to the Impacts of Climate Change: Independent Auditor's Report.  Fall 2017, Report 2. 44 p.
Climate Change (Overview and Main Points, etc.). 2006 Report. 66 p.
Lessons Learned from Canada's Record on Climate Change. Fall 2021, Report 5. 38 p.
Managing the Federal Approach to Climate Change. 2006 Chapter 1. 64 p.
Non-Tax Subsidies for Fossil Fuels. Spring 2019, Report 4. 14 p.
Progress on Reducing Greenhouse Gases - ECCC: Independent Auditor's Report. Fall 2017, Report 1. 22 p.
Tax Subsidies for Fossil Fuels -- Dept. of Finance Canada: Independent Auditor's Report. Spring 2019, Report 3, 13 p.

Reports of the Parliamentary Budget Officer:

Beyond Paris: Reducing Canada's GHG Emissions by 2030. 2021. 29 p.
Carbon Pricing for the Paris Target: Closing the Gap with Output-based Pricing. 2020. 22 p.
Estimated Cost of Cleaning Canada's Orphan Oil and Gas Wells. 2022. 25 p.

Royal Commission Reports | Task Force Reports | Government Department and Agency Reports | Policy Papers | Parliamentary Documents | Law and Court Reports

Law & Legislation and Court Reports:

Besides the broader websites for Canadian law and legislation listed in the main part of this guide, such as the Justice Laws website for federal law, the Federal Court, Supreme Court of Canada, and Canlii, for access to federal and provincial/territorial law and courts, the following are links to more specific climate change related laws, regulations, and case law:

Climate Change Laws of the World. Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment and the Sabin Center, Columbia Law School.

Enter Canada to see summaries, timelines, and links to Canadian federal laws, regulations, and policies, and to summaries, case documents, and judgments from Canadian federal, provincial, and international legal cases related to climate change. Another access point to climate change case law is through the  Global Climate Change Litigation Database. 

International "Soft Law":

Compendium of Canada's Engagement in International Environmental Agreements and Instruments.  By Environment and Climate Change Canada. 2020, 9th edition.

Provides brief summaries of Canada's bilateral, regional, and multilateral voluntary commitments and links to the full text. The 9th edition has over 100 entries, many relevant to climate change issues, and five specifically classified under the theme: "climate change".

Key examples:

United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). UNFCCC Secretariat (UN Climate Change). Adopted in 1992; entered into force in 1994. Signed and ratified by Canada in 1992.

This is the first comprehensive global agreement to address climate change. The purpose of this legally binding convention is to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous consequences. The UNFCCC Secretariat was established  when the Convention was signed,  to support the global response to climate change by facilitating intergovernmental climate change negotiations. They organize several meetings, workshops and negotiation sessions each year, the largest being the Annual Conference of the Parties held in a different location each year. The site contains the text of the convention and many other related documents, including the related agreements, decisions, conference documents, and a registry of Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) established under the Paris Agreement, which includes Canada's reports.  A Government of Canada page describing and linking to this agreement is here:

Kyoto Protocol. Adopted in 1997; entered into force Feb. 2005. Operationalizes the UNFCCC by committing industrialized countries and economies to reducing GHG emissions. Canada signed April 1998; ratified in 2002. The Canadian government under Stephen Harper notified the UNFCCC it was withdrawing from the Kyoto Protocol Dec. 2011; withdrawal took effect Dec. 2012.

Paris Agreement.  Adopted Dec. 2015; entered into force Nov. 2016. Canada signed and ratified in 2016. Set the goal of keeping global temperature rise well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.


Personal Papers:


May, Elizabeth. Who we Are: Reflections on my Life and Canada. Vancouver: Greystone Books, 2014. 224 p. A memoir and manifesto by this former leader of the Green Party of Canada, the first elected Green Party Member of Parliament in Canada, and a believer in the power of good public policy. May writes about her experience in politics and what changes are needed to fight climate change.


David Anderson Fonds. Library and Archives Canada. ID#: 3843115. Includes text files, sound recordings, and video from his Parliament Hill office relating to his private and public careers from 1955 to 2004. The Hon. David Anderson had a long career in  government, with many roles in the environmental field. He was a Liberal party Member of Parliament for many years, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans from 1997-99 and Minister of Environment  from 1999-2006. The sub-series on his role as Minister of Environment includes files on climate change information for MPs and his personal dealings with oil companies in New Brunswick and British Columbia.

Maurice Strong Papers.  Harvard University Library, Environmental Science and Public Policy Archives. Collection ID: ESPP MFS001. The collection includes personal, business, and professional papers from 1948 to 2000. Maurice Strong was a Canadian who played a major role in globalizing the environmental movement. In 1971 he commissioned the world's first "state of the environment" report: Only One Earth: The Care and Maintenance of a Small Planet, in preparation for the first UN meeting on the environment in Stockholm Sweden, in 1972. He was Secretary-General of the Stockholm Conference and his opening statement is still widely quoted. The Conference led to the establishment of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and as its first Executive Director, he convened the first international expert group meeting on climate change.

Recorded Images (Film and video footage, photographs, cartoons):

Film, video footage:

Climate Atlas of Canada Videos. Prairie Climate Centre.

A collection of over 50 short videos designed to inspire local, regional, and national action on climate change. Many feature individuals, governments, and communities working on projects for a sustainable future.

CPAC's Leader's Tour. CPAC video. Various dates, December 2005.

Follows the party leaders as they campaign across Canada in the weeks leading up to the Jan. 23, 2006 election. On several dates, e.g. Dec. 6, 7, 9, 2005 various leaders comment on climate change issues.

Fort McMoney: Vote Jim Rogers! National Film Board of Canada. Directed by David Dufresne. 2014. 52 min.

Documentary showing the influence of the oil and gas industry on municipal politics in Fort McMurray, Alberta.

House of Commons Standing Committee on Environment Press Conference. March 25, 1991. Video. 40 min. Library and Archives Canada collection.

The Hon. Charles Caccia discusses the highlights and recommendations of the committee's 7th report to Parliament: Out of Balance: The Risk of Climate Change, followed by question period.

Global Warming: Turning up the Heat. The Nature of Things, CBC Documentary, 1996. 1 hr.

Broadcast on Feb. 29, 1996 on CBC television, this documentary hosted by David Suzuki is an update of the 2-hour special: "A Climate for Change." It examines the politics of climate change and why nothing substantial had been done at that point, despite the widespread agreement among the world's scientists and experts that global warming was a serious threat to the planet.

Power to the People.

A weekly television documentary shown on the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network that explores renewable energy projects and how they are empowering indigenous communities across Canada. Hosted by Melina Laboucan Massimo.

Running on Climate. Produced and directed by Robert Alstead and Joanna Clarke. Vancouver, BC: Productions, 2015. 84 min.

A documentary about climatologist Dr. Andrew Weaver, running for the BC Green Party in the 2013 provincial election. Includes interviews of policy experts on how politics and the environment intersect in British Columbia.


Photographs and Cartoons:

The Cartoon Introduction to Climate Change. By Yoram Bauman and Grady Klein. Island Press, 2014. 208 p.

This book explains climate change in an entertaining way with information based on the latest IPCC report of the time, and Bauman's expertise in economics and policy.

The Library and Archives' collections contain editorial cartoons and photographs relating to Canadian government officials and politicians dealing with climate change politics. Examples:

GREENHOUSE GAS. A cartoon by Dale Cummings published Nov. 15, 1997 in the Winnipeg Free Press, of the federal, provincial/territorial ministers of energy and environment meeting in Regina to discuss the Canadian position on climate change issues in advance of international negotiations in Japan.

A 1990 editorial cartoon by Alan King depicting Uncle Sam holding the world in his hands while a diminuative Lucien Bouchard speaks to him with a document labelled "global warming"


Search for these using the Collections Search and combine your keyword for the topic or the person's name with "cartoon". For photographs enter your search, then limit the results to material type: "photographic material". You can also limit a search to "Images".

See Primary Sources - Recorded Images in the main part of this guide for tips on finding more films, photos, and other recorded images.

What Is Happening Now (in political parties and government, contacting people, getting involved):

Besides all the generic tools to keep up to date with political party and government information, to find contact information and to get involved (covered in the main part of this guide), the following are selected resources specific to climate change policy, organized by whether they are created by a political party, a government body, or advocacy groups and other non-governmental organizations:

Political Parties:

Most federal political parties have developed policies regarding the climate crisis and related energy and sustainability  issues. Current policy may be found on their websites. See library catalogues, news sources, etc. to find earlier platforms, policy statements and documents. See POLTEXT Electronic Manifestos for digitized provincial and federal party platforms. In Parliament, environment critics in opposition parties should be especially active in providing their party's views. (See the current opposition party critics by "Portfolio": Enter Environment in the table provided in the Library of Parliament's ParlInfo site: Departments and Roles: 1867 - Today.) Track their statements in the Parliamentary Debates and relevant committee meetings, as well as any personal blogs or social media posts, or commentaries, interviews, statements, etc. in the news media.


Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC).

As the main government department responsible for climate change policy in Canada, this is the site to go to for the latest information. The "News" link can be limited by Minister, department, and subject, and has news releases, media advisories, speeches, statements, backgrounders, notices, videos and more. There are many ways to keep up-to-date including RSS feed, email list, and social media options. Subscription page for ECCC news:
See also the Climate Change section, which includes a page of resources for youth titled:
Take Climate Action:

Our Environment: Take Action Toward a Safer and Cleaner Environment.

This page on the website links to over a hundred resources on ways to take action to fight climate change and protect the environment. It includes information on government  incentives, rebates, grants, and other government programs that encourage action.

Similar pages also exist on some provincial, territorial, and local government websites.

Advocacy Groups and Other Organizations:

Climate Action Network/Réseau action climat Canada.

Part of an international network, CAN-Rac Canada brings together over 100 organizations working on climate change issues across the country. The website has a lot of information, webinars, workshop recordings, news releases, publications, etc.  There is also a  portal for member organizations to meet, organize, and hold discussions. The public can subscribe to the monthly newsletter: Climate Bulletin, or get updates and announcements by email.

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. The "Take Action" section of their website includes 10 things you can do about climate change, the guide, including "Understand emissions in Canada": Your voice at the table: A guide to mobilizing local government climate action, petitions to stop fossil fuel subsidies, and much more.


Canada's largest environmental law charity. It takes on strategic public interest litigation to protect the environment. Climate change is one of the areas they focus on, with several cases in progress and completed. The website provides updates, news, commentary, and webinar recordings, as well as a Take Action section with opportunities for getting involved. You can sign up for email updates, and specifically for updates on the legal cases in progress, such as the groundbreaking youth-led Mathur et. al. v. Her Majesty in Right of Ontario climate lawsuit.

Ecoportal Canada.

A major gateway to finding environmental groups, networks, jobs, businesses and associations, events, volunteer listings, activities, and other opportunities to get involved in environmental work, or find people to contact in communities across the country. Many of the general listings will include a focus on climate change and related issues. The Climate Change Gateway section has a few more specific listings. 

Greenpeace Canada.

Greenpeace is one of the world's oldest environmental organizations working worldwide to convince governments to protect the environment. Greenpeace Canada has a specific focus on shifting away from fossil fuels and nuclear power towards renewable energy. The "Energy [R]evolution" section of the website includes press releases, information on their campaigns, and many ways to get involved.

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 viewpoints in finding climate solutions. An important critique of federal climate policy is the 64-page report:  Decolonizing Climate Policy in Canada, published in March 2021. The site has a news blog, news releases, a podcast, email list, youth email list, and invites active participation, partnerships on projects, and volunteer opportunities.