Canada and the Green Transition: Perspectives on the Way Forward

Chapter 10 | Urban Politics of Climate and Energy Transitions

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Key Messages




  • Transformative change in urban areas requires that we embrace a broader understanding of what makes for a good life, and develop contextual understandings of what drives existing inequalities and how this is linked to climate action
  • At present, however, many municipalities approach climate action as additional activity for which new money must be discovered, as opposed to a new lens that should guide all decision-making. Our ideas about urban futures and what progress must look like are currently limited by a particular set of interests
  • Indigenous-led community energy transitions are not only about the policies of settler-Indigenous relations, but also about the politics of knowledge and articulating the transformation of our relationships with energy based on Indigenous ways of knowing




  • Canadian municipalities are not sufficiently engaging residents in climate planning
  • The settler-colonial context of Canada makes it particularly important for settler local governments to engage with local Indigenous governments as rightsholders warranting a nation-to-nation engagement approach, as called for by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission




  • Not all municipalities across Canada have set net-zero or 100% emission reduction goals by 2050, or interim targets for 2030
  • Canadian municipal climate plans often lack the implementation plans that would commit resources to achieve targets and redirect capacities through regulatory and program interventions
  • Equity ownership of renewable energy projects for Indigenous communities offers a possible mechanism for reconciling the damage of colonization and capitalism, and enabling Indigenous-led energy development



  • Provincial and national jurisdictions should create a policy context acknowledging the necessity of creating plans to accomplish the managed decline of fossil fuel production and rapid decarbonization to eliminate our dependence on fossil fuels.
  • Municipalities should apply a climate lens to all decision-making and mainstream GHG and resilience goals into institutional operations beyond environment or sustainability divisions.
  • Municipalities should expand the application of equity-based approaches to climate action by increasing citizen participation and experimentation with policy tools like justice partnerships, equity advisory boards, equity tools, and justice indicators.
  • Indigenous community-led renewable energy development should be enabled, including through enacting FPIC in energy policies.
  • Municipalities should set net-zero or 100% emission reduction targets and receive support from other levels of government and agencies to develop and carry out implementation plans.
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