Reviewing the government’s climate approach one year after its enhanced net-zero commitments

Earth Day 2022 marks an important milestone for Canada. Only one year ago, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Canada’s revised commitment to fighting climate change by reducing the county’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 40-45% below 2005 levels by 2030 and achieving net-zero emissions by 2050. It came just days after a historic budget that pledged over $17 billion towards a green economy recovery and transition. Since then, considerable work has begun to transform Canada’s relationship with the environment in terms of funding and investment opportunities and collaborative portfolio leadership.

New funding and investment opportunities

The past month has been particularly busy for the federal government, releasing the highly anticipated 2030 Emissions Reduction Plan (ERP), Budget 2022, issuing Canada’s inaugural green bonds, and attending one of the first major in-person conferences, Globe Forum 2022. A strong theme is threaded throughout these actions: how will Canada advance existing measures to ensure its environmental commitments are achieved?

Reaching Canada’s ambitious climate goals will be no small task. Building off existing programs such as the Net Zero Accelerator Fund and Low Carbon Economy Fund, the ERP includes an additional $9.1 billion in new investments that will facilitate further cuts to GHG emissions across the country. Overall, it aims to provide new incentives to develop, adopt, and invest in clean technologies while making sustainable choices such as zero-emission vehicles more accessible and affordable. Published a week apart, both the ERP and Budget 2022 place the fight against climate change as its cornerstone for upcoming programming and investments. 

However, funding alone will be insufficient to meet Canada’s climate targets. There is a need for robust and coordinated policy leadership, which the federal government is achieving through collaboration across Cabinet portfolios.

Collaborative portfolio leadership

As the fight against climate change impacts diverse sectors of Canada’s economy, there is an increased role of cross-portfolio collaboration. One of the first indications of this occurred shortly after the 2021 Federal Election, which saw significant shakeups for Environment and Climate Change (ECCC) and Natural Resources (NRCan). The restructuring of ministerial assignments and splitting parliamentary secretaries between the two key portfolios highlight the critical need for alignment and shared action between files to tackle climate change.

While ECCC, NRCan, and Finance are taking the lead in driving GHG reductions, there is close collaboration and coordination with other portfolios, including Innovation, Science and Economic Development; Transport; Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC); Health Canada, Public Services and Procurement; and various regional economic development agencies. Key policies that are leading the government’s emissions reductions such as the Clean Fuel Regulations are led by ECCC but have received important input from NRCan and AAFC in order to ensure a robust and harmonized approach.

Notable throughout the ERP, Budget 2022, and remarks at the recent Globe Forum 2022, it is clear that Prime Minister Trudeau hopes to tackle the fight against climate change with a Team Canada approach. This commitment was evident when nearly all relevant Cabinet ministers attended the recent Globe Forum in Vancouver and the significant cross-portfolio collaboration in the ERP and Budget 2022.

What’s next?

We have come a long way in our collective environmental efforts. Gone are the days of merely turning off our lights for an hour one evening in March. Now, a focus on climate change and achieving our environmental commitments are at the core of government decisions and shape substantial aspects of everyday life.

With further climate action on the horizon, it will be another exciting year for environmental policy. Amid a critical decade to determine the future of our planet, what more can be done to maintain momentum? You can trust PAA Advisory | Conseils to keep you informed as climate-based policies continue to shape government action, investment and collaboration.