Policy focus: accelerating the deployment of GHG reduction strategies


As in much of the rest of the world, Canada’s provincial, territorial and federal governments have adopted various GHG emissions action plans and strategies. The description presented here reflects a diversity of approaches and ambitions, highlighting the challenge of establishing a coherent national program. With regard to the subnational level, this chapter is limited to a summary of targets and policies; Appendix B provides additional details for each province and territory.


  • Despite reductions in many sectors, Canada’s overall GHG emissions have stagnated since 2005.
  • Accounting for more than half the country’s emissions, the transport sector and the oil and gas industry also represented the most rapid emission increases in absolute terms from 1990 to 2019.
  • Most Canadian provinces have adopted GHG emission reduction targets. However:
    • Despite the proliferation of action plans and strategies, details on how targets will be reached—including costs, technologies, sectorial targets and pathways—are scant or entirely lacking;
    • For the most part, these strategies have so far failed to translate into reality.
  • Strong disagreements with some provinces on carbon pricing reached the Supreme Court, which confirmed the constitutionality of the federal policy in 2021.
  • Recent announcements by the federal government signal increasingly ambitious GHG emission reduction targets, including net-zero emission by 2050 and a more than 40 % reduction with respect to 2005 by 2030. However:
    • Details are still lacking as to how these targets can be achieved;
    • Data relating to GHG emissions, and to associated energy production and consumption, are still lagging, limiting the capacity to evaluate progress and adjust the course of actions.