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Canada

Core analysis conducted in July 2021.

Overall NDC Equity Score

Aspiring

+

Emissions Reductions

Aspiring

The NDC makes a strong effort to create ambitious emissions reduction goals, but lacks policies for greater impact and implementation.

+

Gender Justice

Exemplary

The NDC implementation will lead to major improvements in gender equality.

+

Youth Inclusion

Insufficient

The NDC made an effort to include young people in the NDC development process but does not provide measures for sustained inclusion and climate action.

Summary

As of 2023, Canada is the 11th largest greenhouse gas emitting country in the world. The 2021 NDC presents a commitment of 40-45% emission reductions below 2005 levels by 203 and includes short-lived climate pollutants, such as black carbon, and phasing out ozone-depleting substances that are covered under the 1987 Montreal Protocol. Though it is one of the world’s only emissions reduction targets that is enshrined in law under the Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability Act, the NDC fails to communicate a the necessary need to phase-out oil and gas exploration.

 

In April 2021, seven Canadian environmental organizations commissioned research into how Canada can achieve its fair share of emission reductions over the next decade. The report found that for Canada to meet its global share of emission reductions, Canada would have to achieve at least 60% reductions by 2030 (EnviroEconomics & Navius, 2021) and put policies in place to restrict the production and use of fossil fuels rather than rely on carbon pollution pricing and investing in clean technology alone.

 

Unique to Canada’s NDC, each province, territory, and Indigenous group had the opportunity to share their own emission targets, goals, and initiatives in a one-page inclusion of the 2021 NDC. This is a best practice that could be followed in other countries. Considering that Canada is warming at twice the rate of many other countries, it’s important Canada’s updated national and subnational NDC commitments reflect a more ambitious emissions reduction target coupled with adaptation metrics.

 

Canada’s NDC includes notable advancements in gender equality, justice, and involvement through multiple gender-based initiatives. This includes conducting a Gender Based Analysis Plus (GBA+) analysis for each policy and program in the future to ensure there are key standards and practices for women to be included in the decision-making, evaluation, implementation, and monitoring of climate change policies and initiatives. There is also a claim for gender inclusion through advocating for internationally transferred mitigation outcomes (ITMOs) to ensure environmental integrity, gender equality, and the rights of Indigenous peoples. The NDC claims its intention to lead critical initiatives to foster diversity and inclusion in green transition and provides the example of the Equal by 30 Campaign to advance the participation of women in clean energy globally. The NDC further mentions briefly the 2021 Federal Pathway to Address Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ People and the 2018 Canadian Gender Budgeting Act which provides slight insights into the intersectionality of women’s equity in relation to Indigenous peoples and economic rights. The NDC would have benefitted more by mentioning intersections between women with race and socioeconomic status, and how these points of intersectionality make these women more susceptible to climate change and its negative impacts, thus stating the importance of their involvement in climate change decisions and dialogues.

 

On youth inclusion, Canada’s NDC needs major improvements. The word “youth” itself is mentioned twice in the 42-page document, both times being identified in a list formation providing a very vague and non-committal approach to youth involvement. Thus, the needs of youth and future generations are not adequately acknowledged or considered in this NDC. This is despite the fact that the Indigenous annex included in the document contains the Métis perspective that we have a responsibility to protect lands, waters, and all living things for future generations.

 

On indigenous inclusion, Canada’s NDC marked a substantive improvement from its first submission. With Canada having one of the world’s largest Indigenous populations, it is increasingly important to respect Indigenous traditions and culture, as well as integrate them into decision-making that affects their lands and resources. Besides being mentioned numerous times throughout the document, Indigenous perspectives and inclusion were provided an entire annex which included more focused representation and acknowledgement of the three distinct Indigenous groups in Canada (First Nations, Inuit, and Métis).

Highlights

  • Committment to holding public engagement processes throughout climate change actions and decision-making
  • Gender-justice analysis and proactive approach to inclusion is strong within the NDC
  • Climate action to achieve the NDCs goals is enshrined in national law
  • Great involvement for Indigenous peoples and subnational governments

Lowlights

  • Lacking in youth perspectives and initiatives, however, after the new NDC was released a national youth council was created.
  • Ambition does not represent Canada's fair share based on historical contributions to climate change
  • Focus on green technology rather than phasing our fossil fuels
  • Lack of attention given to phasing out oil and gas exploration

Key Recommendations

Canada’s NDC sets the bar high for gender-responsive climate action and indigenous peoples inclusion. Though it provides a clear roadmap and increasing ambition, the 2021 NDC is not as ambitious or actionable as what the country has the capability to achieve based on its fair share.

Efforts to include and center young people could be strengthened by following similar actions for gender and indigenous peoples inclusion. Additionally, Canada could take future steps to better integrate intersectionality into the NDC. The following are key recommendations for the improvement of future NDCs and other national climate plans:


For Gender Justice

  • Efforts to include and center women should trickle down into subnational implementation plans
  • Women and feminists should be consulted more in government climate projects
  • Funding should be made increasingly available to women-led climate non-profit organizations

For Youth Inclusion

  • Increased access to climate education to strengthen the next generation's ability to continue being positive climate stewards
  • Engagement of the Youth Climate Council in the development and implementation of the next NDC
  • Strong engagement and consultative process for youth inclusion that can be replicated at the subnational levels
  • Commitment to phase-out fossil fuels to protect the rights of future generations
  • Specific inclusion of key indicators of young people as vulnerable to the climate crisis

NDC Ambassador - Author

Elaina Cox

NDC Ambassador Elaina Cox is a Métis woman and a recent graduate from the University of Guelph with a BA Honours in Environmental Governance, with minors in Political Science and Geographic Information Systems and Environmental Analysis, and beginning her Masters in Sustainability Management this September. Elaina is an avid advocate and volunteer in environmental, Indigenous, and LGBTQ2+ rights and issues, with a special passion for advocating for Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas.

NDC Mentor

Lou Collin

NDC Mentor Lou Collin is a student, a youth climate and social advocate, a nature lover, and a feminist. Lou is currently studying Geography and Sociology at Concordia University. Growing up in the countryside, Lou always had a certain environmental awareness, but it was when she moved to Canada, Montreal, for her studies, that she started to really involve herself in the climate justice movement. Since 18 years old, Lou has volunteered in many different environmental organizations, from local citizen-led organizations like Coalition Climat Montreal to international ones. She is now a certified Climate Reality Leader and a WWF Living Planet Leader.

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