Canada Subsidies

Canada—46.4 billion per annum

Canada paid $3.314 billion (on oil and gas subsidies) to its fossil fuel industry last year, and $2.9 billion in 2013. The amount changes yearly, $3.314 billion is an average based on 2013-2015 data. Subsidies are usually associated with production, field development, extraction, and exploration.

However, the International Monetary Fund estimated Canada’s energy subsidies in 2011 as $26 billion, 2013 as $34 billion and 2015 as $46.4 billion to producers and as uncollected tax on externalized costs not accounted for such as air pollution, carbon emissions, transport fuels, and traffic congestion. Some agree with these unrecognized figures but others argue the large start-up capital, high degree of risk, and many years between initial investments and profits justify that companies can reduce taxes paid in the short term deferring them until later in the production cycle, that they are not subsidies but tax treatments common to the natural resources sector.

Coal production in recent years, largely through exports, is decreasing in demand. Canada’s own coal consumption has decreased dramatically over the past decade. Coal-fired power generation was reduced by half between 2000 and 2014. In November 2016, Canada announced a phase out of coal-fired electricity by 2030 which most impacts Alberta, Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia.

The amount of fossil fuels burned for energy use has been relatively flat since 2000 as increases from Alberta oil sands were offset by reductions in Ontario and the Maritimes in the phase-out of coal-fired electricity generation. But a rise in carbon emissions is evident. Fossil fuels extracted and used domestically or exported and combusted elsewhere increased 26% from 2000 to 2014. In 2015, Canada’s extracted carbon equaled almost 1.2 billion tonnes of CO2. Infrastructure projects still underway such as Liquefied Natural Gas plants and bitumen pipelines have created a high-emissions course for several decades to come has a major impact on reaching emission targets.

Export Development Canada, Canada’s main public finance institution, mostly funds projects for oil and gas production including overseas exploration. A number of subsidies to our oil, gas and mining companies are in the process of being phased out, including special help for the oil sands that ended in January 2015. Also, the Atlantic Investment Tax Credit of $127 million for past subsidies is scheduled to phase out of oil and gas in 2017. Some subsidies involve the provinces.

The Liberal federal government promised to stop subsidizing fossil fuels as part of their election platform in 2014. A national carbon tax proposed to start in 2018 at $10 is increasingly emerging as a central policy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GGE). This price will rise by $10 each year per metric ton of emissions to a maximum of $50 per tonne in 2022 toward Canada’s Paris commitments of reducing GGE by 30% from 2005 levels by 2030.

This also means moving from emissions of 742 megatonnes (Mt) of CO2e (December 2016) to a target of 523 Mt by 2030. While a consistent carbon price across Canada is eventually needed, it is not critical to start with it given our provinces and territories’ history of contrasting policies across the country.

Fossil fuel subsidies work against Canada’s noteworthy progress in putting a price on carbon. Many tax protocols and accelerated deductions date back to the 1970s and have since outlived their original objectives historically premised on factors such as exploration risk, spillover benefits of exploration to third parties, large capital requirements, price volatility, and a desire to be competitive. Today, however, it is not clear that these factors are unique to the sector or merit preferential treatment. Pembina indicates today the oil sector is not operating in such a market. More importantly, tax preferences are now contrary to our global GGE commitment as well as Canada’s domestic policy on carbon pricing and investment in clean technology.

Learn More

about Canadian fossil fuel subsidies and where they are headed – November 2015 May 21 2014 December 2016 February 2015 November 2016 November 2015 November 2010 January 2017 January 2013 November 2014 July 2014 June 2016 January 25, 2017 1998-2016

Canada Survey

In a 2017 survey of 1,518 Canadians conducted by Abacus Data Inc. 84% of respondents said they feel the USA made the wrong decision in exiting the Paris Climate Change Accord.

In a survey of 1,000 Canadians conducted by Nanos Research, nearly two-thirds of respondents agreed or somewhat agreed that the federal government should proceed with climate regulations, including carbon pricing, regardless of the direction taken by the USA. Support for Canada’s plan to institute new climate regulations was broken down regionally as: Atlantic 70%, Quebec 73.2%, Ontario 60.7%, Prairies 51.5%, BC 74.3%.

In a 2017 survey of 1,518 Canadians conducted by Abacus Data Inc., 84% of respondents said that the USA made the wrong decision in exiting the Paris Climate Change Accord. 84% also said Canada should remain committed to the Accord. Unusually, these views crossed partisan lines. Even a majority of Canadian Conservative voters, agreed the USA decision was unwise (61%) and that Canada should stay in the Accord (62%).

The main reason why those polled supported continuing climate action, ‘was to prevent environmental calamities and to do the right thing by future generations’. Increasingly, Abacus’ research shows Canadians favoring a shift from non-renewable fossil fuel energy as part of a sound economic strategy for our future. By a margin of 3 to 1, the survey showed Canadians see that economies that do the best in the future will be those shifting to cleaner energy.

The USA’s position on the Paris Accord appears to be helping clarify for Canadians what side of the argument they don’t want to be on. Their data shows that support is broad and deep for Canada’s government to press ahead with the Agreement and that the audience for political leaders who doubt climate change is happening is small (and shrinking).

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To review a listing of Abacus’ most recent surveys July 6, 2017

More detail on tabulations for Globe and Mail survey can be found at March 3, 2017

Canada Strategies

Canada: (1) Strengthen country’s Paris Agreement pledge; (2) new infrastructure spending that won’t lock Canadians into a high carbon path; (3) prioritize transit and active transportation over auto-only infrastructure

I support the Canada Climate Action Network’s recommendation that Canada work to raise its NDC targets given the Paris Ambition Mechanism process that calls on parties to update INDC contributions during regular five-year evaluations of progress (2020, 2025, and 2030).

Improvements in energy efficient is a major sector where greater investment will help with emission reduction efforts. Not only should governments support transit, walking and biking, they could promote workplace telecommuting and reduced travel considerations with teleconferencing instead as a means to reduce emissions.

Third: Specific to the oil and gas sector, reviewing planned oil and gas production targets and plans for pipeline growth in Canada’s Pan-Canadian Climate Change Framework strategy. The Framework should include a clear message on moving faster to eliminate fossil fuel subsidies that help support the building of public infrastructure.

Learn More

Climate Action Network analysis of the Pan-Canadian Framework

Canada’s INDC assessment by Climate Action Tracker

Columbia Institute’s 2017 Report Card: Top Asks for Climate Action

An assessment of whether Canada can build pipelines and keep its climate commitments

Rules in countries taking stock and informing the preparation of successive NDCs after the Paris Agreement

Canada presently one of few countries that has submitted to UNFCCC their long term plan for 2050

Canada’s first revision to its NDC submission given Parliament’s Pan-Canadian Framework approval

A guide to understanding country contributions – INDCs

Canada Renewable Energy

Canada—No 100% 2050 Commitment
Benchmark: Electricity system to run 90% on non-emitting resources by 2030

Canada has not yet made a commitment to reach 100% renewable energy by 2050.
Renewables represents 66% of Canada’s electricity generation: 59.3% is hydroelectricity, wind power is 4.4%, biomass power is 1.9 % and solar power is 0.5%. Nuclear power generation accounts for an additional 16% of the nation’s electricity mix.

Canada already has one of the cleanest electricity systems in the world. Long coastlines and vast landmass give it some of the best wind and solar available. The renewable industry is growing within Canada and forecasts solar capacity increase three-fold by 2025. Investment could support the transition of Canada’s electricity system towards 90% non-emitting resources by 2030. The National Energy Board sees a continuing increase in the future for solar, wind and other technologies as they become more cost competitive. They note renewable energy production increased 17% between 2005 and 2015. Canada has a lot of land without a large population, making it able to achieve 100% renewable energy.

80% of Canada’s electricity sector is now generated by non-emitting sources. To achieve 100% renewables, Canada would need to replace existing fossil fuel combustion sources with clean energy, and ensure new growth in the electricity sector from zero emitting sources.

In June 2016, Canada, USA and Mexico set a goal of 50% clean power generation in North America by 2025. That included renewable energy, nuclear power, carbon capture and storage and cutting energy waste through increased efficiency. Alignment of policies, followed by integration of energy systems including trading markets to transmission lines to accelerate clean energy deployment was the expected outcome. With changes to the US government and expected NAFTA agreement changes, the next steps are not yet clear.

In November 2016, Canada’s federal government committed to ‘lead by example’ to reduce its own emissions to 40% below 2005 levels, by 2030 or sooner and purchase 100% of its electricity from clean energy sources as well as to invest in vehicle fleets and infrastructure.

Cities have started to establish 100% renewable targets. As of 2015, approximately 90% of Vancouver’s electricity was being generated by hydropower. Victoria and Oxford County have also set 100% renewable targets. Toronto as a C40 member may be next.

Learn More
Canada’s government buildings commitment to 100% renewables
The Pan-Canadian Framework commitment to the Paris Agreement
The 2016 three Amigos pledge of 50% clean power Across North America
See map of innovative renewable energy projects around the world

Canada Success Project

Canada—The Carbon Impact Initiative

The United Nations Environmental has reported that buildings account for 40% of emissions as a result of the construction, operations and maintenance over the life of a building.

The Carbon Impact Initiative (CII) is an industry-wide effort by the EllisDon Corporation (a world leading construction/building firm) to contribute to a low-carbon economy in Canada by providing a strategic direction for future buildings and communities. To launch this initiative, EllisDon reached out to leading contributors in sustainable development and advanced energy technologies in the development of large-scale commercial buildings, energy, communications and infrastructure across Canada.

CII seeks to build and retrofit the next generation of buildings and infrastructure to surpass new performance standards; and, in doing so, design and promote an industry systems approach to offset the carbon footprint in currant building development, construction, and operations. It currently has 3 pilot projects and there are 15 others in the pipeline.

EllisDon created the CII as a means to engage market leaders across sectors in a response to new priorities. Industry will bear the brunt of the responsibility to meet Canada’s commitment to the Paris Agreement to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 30% below 2005 levels in 2030.The public sector needs to rely on industry practices to guide development and carbon pricing. The Carbon Impact Intiative will make an important contribution to this effort.

Learn More about the CII Strategy

Largely adapted from and

The need for retrofits and net zero new building design

What is needed next from the Pan-Canadian Framework

Canada Checkup

Canada—Moving Forward

The 2016 Government Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change (PCFCGCC) is intended to help achieve Canada’s Paris Agreement commitments.  It calls for investments in green infrastructure, public transport, clean technology, and increased carbon sequestration. Carbon pricing is the core of the PCFCGCC. Provinces are required to institute a minimum carbon price of $10/tonne by 2018, rising to $50/tonne by 2022, or to have a federal carbon levy imposed on them.

Canada’s 2017 budget supports the beginning of the Framework implementation. The Canadian Chamber of Commerce supports Canada’s priority on climate change but recommends the use of additional economic/financial measures such as an updated carbon pricing policy and increased private sector involvement.

Canada’s Paris Agreement target is a 30% reduction below 2005 levels of emissions by 2030. The Climate Tracker (last updated Nov. 2016) states Canada as not reaching its Paris target but notes a national mandatory carbon-pricing plan could change this outlook. I see PCFCGCC quantifying its impact in meeting Canada’s INDC goals.

Climate Action Network Canada’s analysis supports the Framework but seeks more detail on how the Framework will be implemented. The Citizens Climate Agreement Campaign (Nov. 2015) asked that Canada adopt 1990 as a baseline vs 2005, strengthen its target, avoid international emission market schemes and implement a domestic carbon tax. The 30% reduction (523 megatonnes of CO2 eq) or 14.5% below 1990 levels was set by our previous government who withdrew from Kyoto, rolled back regulations and undermined climate action for a decade. Our new government has had to keep the Paris targets set in 2015 by the previous government. As of last month, Canada has not committed to international carbon trading.

I believe Canada is moving forward consistently, especially considering the past decade’s lost opportunity. The Framework (released only in Dec. 2016) sets out actions that will contribute to meeting or exceeding Canada’s 2030 target. Comparisons of carbon pricing systems across Canada will start in 2020. Emissions projections will be updated yearly as Framework measures are designed and implemented. Many factors cannot be foreseen with certainty such as economic and population growth, energy markets and projections, technologies, consumer behavior, and policies aimed at emissions reductions.

Learn More

Climate Action Network Canada’s Analysis and Summary of the Pan-Canadian Framework on Climate Change, Dec 12, 2016 and response to Canada’s 2017 budget, Mar 22, 2017
Click link within blog to review the Canadian Chamber of Commerce’s assessment of Pan-Canadian Framework on Climate Change, Dec. 15, 2016
Canada’s Second Biennial Report on Climate Change translates 2005 targets to 1990 levels (a document that reflects comprehensive 2015 data)
UNCCC Session SBI46 (2016) – Canada’s position on international climate markets, multi-lateral assessments – questions and answers/Canada – responses April 28, 2017
Assessment of Canada’s ability to meet emissions targets, Feb, 27, 2017
Canadian Environmental Sustainability Indicators, Progress Towards Canada’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Target  

Canada Emission Reduction Policy

Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change

In March 2016, our provincial Ministers (premiers) and the Prime Minister issued the Vancouver Declaration on clean growth and climate change. They also agreed to develop a pan-Canadian Framework to achieve our commitment to the Paris Agreement (a 30% reduction below 2005 levels of emissions). Four working groups including federal, provincial and territories officials next developed reports to assess how and where to reduce emissions (specific mitigation opportunities), ideas for a low-carbon economy (clean technology, innovation and job creation), carbon pricing (pricing mechanisms) and how Canadians will need to prepare and respond to climate impacts (adaptation and climate resilience).

These reports were discussed by the Ministers of the Environment and the Ministers of Innovation and Economic Development in October and November 2016 to prepare provincial responses. On December 9, 2016, Canada’s First Ministers and the Prime Minster met again and adopted the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change (Saskatchewan and Manitoba did not endorse it as drafted). Officials implementing the Framework will report back yearly.

This policy is significant because it prioritizes a price on carbon, making electricity cleaner and increasing energy-efficiency of buildings and vehicles while establishing measures to adapt to the impacts of climate change. It is a collective approach, and requires strong investment, particularly for Adaptation, demonstrating the long-term consequence of climate change that have already begun.

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A summary of the 4 working group findings to develop a pan-Canadian Framework to achieve Canada’s targets from the Paris Agreement  Pan Cdn document

The announcement of the adoption of the pan-Canadian Framework in December 2016

Canada’s Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change strategy

David Suzuki’s opinion on carbon pricing

Canada Extreme Weather Event

Wildfires in British Columbia and Alberta

Between 1995 and 2005, 250 communities and 700,000 Canadians were evacuated due to wildfires. Increasingly catastrophic events include Kelowna, BC (2003), Slave Lake, Alberta (2011), and now Fort McMurray, Alberta (2016). Canada’s Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction (ICLR) says three trends contribute to the likelihood of more fire disasters in Canada—more exposure as populations move into wild lands, climate change impacts, and deteriorating forest health conditions causing forest fuel accumulations.

Fort McMurray, May 2016, is the most costly disaster yet in Canadian history. It forced 90,000 citizens to evacuate and destroyed more than 2,400 buildings. Another 2,000 residents in nearby communities were displaced, their homes declared unsafe due to contamination. The fire spread to northern Alberta and into Saskatchewan, destroying forests and impacting Athabasca oil sands operations nearby. Shell, Suncor Energy and Syncrude operations were scaled back. No official fire cause has yet been determined.

ICLR examined neighborhoods at the forested fringes of the city, and acreages nearby discounting direct contact from flames or radiant fire heat as the problem. It concluded wind-driven embers as the probable cause of much of the destruction. Once established, the fire spread from structure to structure, a pattern called ‘wildland/urban interface disaster sequence.’

A set of conditions in urban areas allows for ignition of structures from flames or embers. Typically, when fire behavior peaks due to low humidity, high wind, and very dry fuel, it spreads rapidly with extreme intensity. The winter preceding Fort McMurray’s fires was drier than usual, thus the snowpack melted quickly. This combined with high temperatures, created a ‘perfect storm’. The wildfires will alter how governments, communities and industry prepare for, respond to, and recover from future wildfires to reduce losses. Losses can be reduced by widespread adoption of risk mitigations within the home ignition zone and steps to further secure a community.

Learn More

Canada’s FireSmart program helps communities reduce risk of wildfire damage  

Canadian wildfire shifts north, prolonging oil sands shutdown. Reuters Canada. May 17, 2016.

Risk reduction status of homes reconstructed following wildfire disasters in Canada.
Alan Westhaver, M.Sc., September 2015.

The State of Canada’s Forests 2016 report, this year’s theme is climate change.

Why some homes survived: Learning from the Fort McMurray wildfire disaster. Alan Westhaver, M.Sc., August 2016,

Canada Media Organizations

Broadcast Media

CBC News is a national public broadcaster, a leader in producing and distributing Canadian content, meeting regulatory obligation reports to Parliament and CRTC.

CBC wrote about the Paris Agreement and key deliverables such as a carbon-neutral target after 2050 but before 2100 (Dec. 12, 2015) and how satellite data from NASA illustrates increasing carbon dioxide levels in our atmosphere (Dec. 16, 2016).

Content Samples:

CBC reports on limiting temperature rise to 2 C, helping poorer nations—Paris Accord.
CBC looks at satellite data, in documenting the changing face of our warming planet.  

Contact: CBC, P.O. Box 500 Station A, Toronto, On M5W 1E6, 1-866-306-4636 Quirks & Quarks,
Blog: Bob McDonald, email

Print Media

The Hill Times is an independently owned political newsweekly based in Ottawa. Policy briefings and coverage of public policy issues help readers to understand political shifts and federal politics. The Hill Times wrote about the Paris Agreement importance given we are rapidly speeding towards 450 ppm (Dec. 20, 2016) and that climate change is the issue of the century and federal environment commissioner recommendations (Oct. 10, 2016).

Content Samples:

Hill Times looks at Paris Accord a year later, and a new framework on climate change.
Hill Times discusses role of federal departments for sustainable development goals.

Contact: The Hill Times, 246 Queen Street, Suite 200, Ottawa, On, K1P 5E4; Tel: 613-688-8838
Ross Dickson, one of three publishers can be reached at
Editor Kate Malloy can be reached at

Online Media

The National Observer is an online publication with news and in-depth reports on under-covered Canadian stories involving climate, energy, business, culture and politics. Also covers sustainability, resilience and renewable energy transition. The National Observer wrote about the Paris Agreement with respect to Canada working harder given the real threat of climate change (Feb. 7, 2017), and an “historic” pan−Canadian framework on clean growth and climate change (Dec. 10, 2016).

Content Samples:

Observer discusses options to share research, increase reducing our carbon footprint.
Observer looks at strategy to reach the 2030 goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Contact: Elizabeth McSheffrey, national investigative reporter; Tel: 604-336-1936
Email:; Website:

Canada Subnational Best Practices


The Province of British Columbia (BC)—BC has long been a leader on climate change. In 2007, a Climate Action Charter with the province and the Union of BC Municipalities, committed to carbon neutrality by 2012 including municipal GGE reporting. As of 2013, 182 of 190 municipalities (96%) had signed on. In 2008, a Climate Action Revenue Incentive program (revenue neutral), equivalent to 100% of what local governments paid as carbon tax came into effect. This was separate to other grant sources.

A world-leading Climate Action Plan began in 2008, foundational for large-scale change in reaching a target to reduce GGE 6% below 2007 levels by 2012. This included more than $1 billion in programs and tax incentives to encourage cleaner choices. Additional GGE targets are a 33% reduction by 2020 and 80% by 2050. Results have included transit development, green infrastructure, i.e., community energy systems, building retrofits, fuel efficient fleet vehicles and hydro projects.  Along with California, BC was first to implement a low carbon fuel standard.

Since 2012, BC continues to invest in innovation and infrastructure to reach its 2050 target. $1.9 billion is being directed to: $50 million in clean energy/technology; $831 million for clean transportation; $300 million for transportation infrastructure; $24 million to energy efficiency of homes and businesses; and $704 million for clean electricity infrastructure. Recent policies include carbon neutrality for health authorities and post-secondary institutions. These actions are expected to reduce annual GGE by up to 25 million tonnes below current forecasts by 2050 and 66,000 jobs over ten years. A Climate Leadership Plan (launched 2016) adds sector-specific and international initiatives such as The Carbon Pricing Leadership Coalition; and Under 2 MOU.

The Hon. Mary Polak, MLA, Minister of Environment (Climate Leadership Plan, 2016)
Mail: Room 112, Parliament Buildings, Victoria BC V8V 1X4
Telephone: (250) 387-1187


Vancouver—Vancouver is committed to its Greenest City Action Plan (GCAP) (2011), a strategy to become the greenest city in the world by 2020. In 2015, at the halfway mark and with 80% of actions completed, staff identified more than 50 new actions in collaboration with over 300 internal and external advisors adding to the original suite of 125 priority actions. The result was a new road map to being the greenest city globally. Reduction pathways have included energy efficient buildings, district energy, local food, transportation and vehicle changes, reduced landfill waste and clean electricity. As of 2016, examples of target results include:  climate and renewables – reducing community-based GGE by 33% from 2007 levels, so far a decrease of 15% since 2007. Green buildings—all buildings constructed from 2020 on to be carbon neutral in operations, and a reduction of GGE in existing buildings by 20% from 2007 levels, results being a 20% decrease since 2007. Green transportation—reducing average distance driven per resident by 20% from 2007 levels, results were a 27% decrease. In November 2015, a renewable strategy was endorsed for 100% of Vancouver’s energy to come from renewable sources before 2050. Also, a priority action of the Green Plan is an adaptation strategy (2012) integrating climate change into planning, design and emergency management to prepare for climate change impacts.

Lloyd Lee, Monitoring and Reporting Planner
Mail: Vancouver City Hall, Sustainability Office, 453 West 12th Ave, Vancouver, BC V5Y 1V4
Telephone: (604) 873-7000

Toronto—Toronto’s Climate Change Action Plan (2007) set bold targets based on 1990 levels of 22 million tonnes of GGE per year, of 6% by 2012, 30% by 2020, and 80% by 2050. Budget allocations include: $42 million to conservation measures, $20 million for renewable projects and $22 million to retrofit City facilities. This was followed by a Climate Adaptation Strategy (2008) and a Sustainable Energy Strategy (2009). Toronto surpassed its 2012 target with a 15% reduction in 2011.

Since 1996, the Better Buildings Partnership (BBP) partnered with Toronto on over 2,500 projects to eliminate the equivalent of 683,000 tonnes of GGE. Retrofits to City buildings have reduced energy intensity by 25% since 2006. To achieve a target of 80% by 2050, a focus will be will on the use of electrified transit networks and in connecting buildings to low-carbon thermal networks. As of 2012, the City had cut emissions by 49% against 1990 levels through building retrofits, collecting methane from landfills, installing solar PV systems on City properties, connecting City buildings to Deep Lake Water Cooling systems and planting thousands of trees. Also in 2013, a Carbon Credit Policy began.
Results in 2015 alone included 77 BBP projects saving 69,400 tonnes of GGE/year, 47 eco-roofs, a Home Energy Loan Program for low-interest loans, 22 sites reducing peak consumption by 6.79 MW for the province’s Demand Response program, LED retrofits in 27 arenas, a savings of  $160,000, and 89% waste diversion from the City’s 11 largest buildings. Toronto is a member of C40, 100 Resilient Cities and the Compact of Mayors.

Mark Bekkering, Implementation and Support, Environment & Energy Division
Mail: Toronto City Metro Hall, 55 John Street, Toronto, M5V 3C6
Telephone: (416) 392-8556

Learn More

BC has been a leader in Canada on climate action and carbon taxes that are revenue neutral. Read more at

Vancouver will be the greenest city in the world by 2020. See how at and

Toronto, Canada’s largest city, follows Vancouver in innovation to reach GGE reduction. See