Canada and the Green Transition: Perspectives on the Way Forward

Chapter 12 | Canada and International Engagement: Can Canada Be A Leader in the Global Green Transition?

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Key Messages (DRAFT)




  • Canada is one of many states that faces a major quandary regarding its global climate identity. Canada relies heavily on fossil fuel production and dependent industries, such as vehicle manufacturing, and this dependence permeates Canada’s national, regional and community economic development strategies and politics
  • The IEA, which has praised Canada’s climate policy commitments, has increasingly highlighted that the net-zero future, one with a proliferation of EVs, means substantial declines in oil, gas, and coal use – not a complete phase-out
  • To a considerable extent, Canada has been influenced by the American approach to national climate policy, i.e., putting huge resources into the development of renewable energies and vehicle electrification while failing to address oil and gas development as a key source of GHG emissions




  • Canada has adopted a leadership role in the UNFCCC COP processes but these forums are focused mainly on demand-side measures; they have failed to issue any direct calls to phase out fossil fuels. This allows Canada the wiggle room to maintain oil and gas as a key pillar of economic development while pursuing demand-side policies to reduce emissions in the automotive industry, for example.
  • Canada serves as a co-lead in the Electric Vehicle Initiative, helping to reduce barriers to – and drive vital demand-side climate policy around – electrifying transportation




  • Establishing and implementing demand-side policy instruments, in terms of policy measures to influence growth in EV sales; helping to bolster an emerging EV manufacturing and supply chain system to complement existing systems around producing internal combustion engine vehicles (ICEVs); and investment in critical technologies to improve vehicle performance – such as driving range, charge times and battery performance.
  • However, supply-side policy instruments aiming to limit emissions at the source, by targeting fossil fuel exploration, extraction, and transportation through measures such as scaling down production subsidies have not yet been undertaken in Canada




  • The post-pandemic context offers Canada the opportunity to rethink its domestic and international climate policy by increasing investment in green alternatives and gaining from the first-mover advantage of earlier entry into long-term renewable and green markets, and exporting related expertise internationally
  • Beyond engaging with international organizations such as IEA and IPCC, Canada should also forge connections with other actors engaged in the green energy transition, such as the Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance, which aims to build alliances of state and non-state entities, as well as bring subnational and industry partners into policy discussions as strategic partners.
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