“Ambition Gap” Plagues Canadian Climate Change Efforts, Finds Report


(York University, Toronto) Efforts to curb climate change in Canada are being hampered by a serious “ambition gap,” finds a new report by researcher Hadrian Mertins-Kirkwood. The study compares federal and provincial government greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction targets, mitigation policies, emissions, and workforce adjustment policies.

“Tracking progress: Evaluating government plans and actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Canada” is co-published by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) and the Adapting Canadian Work and Workplaces to Respond to Climate Change (ACW) research program, funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, and based at York University.

In the report, Mertins-Kirkwood identifies three common themes in Canadian climate policy: an ambition gap between promises and policies, widespread dependence on and continued promotion of fossil fuels, and an absence of workforce transition policies.

“Canadian governments take climate change seriously insofar as they generally recognize the risk it presents and are taking steps to mitigate emissions. However, collectively, Canadian governments do not take climate change seriously enough to act with the necessary level of ambition,” writes Mertins-Kirkwood. “In some cases, the ambition gap between targets and projections is staggering.”

The absence of a robust just transition strategy is another key issue in Canadian climate policy. Canadian governments have so far been hesitant to tackle the potentially negative impacts of climate policies on fossil fuel workers and their communities. “Public support for emissions mitigation measures is undermined when jobs are lost in the process,” adds Mertins-Kirkwood.

“Tracking progress: Evaluating government plans and actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Canada” is the latest in a series of four reports produced for the ACW’s Domestic Policy Working Group—chaired by Bruce Campbell—which is investigating Canada’s evolving domestic climate policy landscape.


Download full report (PDF)