Canada’s Energy Sector Reform is Making Progress

Canada’s Energy Sector Reform is Making Progress

The National Energy Board (Canada’s Energy Regulator) advises Canadians that we are in an energy transition period driven not only by technological, economic, and political factors but for the first time primarily by environmental factors based on changing social values—the drive to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions (GGEs) or decarbonization. 

Although Canada generates only 1.6% (2017 data) of global GGEs, the International Energy Agency recommends it be a more responsible energy supplier and user, as the fourth largest per capita emitter in the OECD. Thus new technologies are emerging, and energy efficiency strategies are expanding. Most importantly, policy agendas such as the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change (December 2016), (our Paris Agreement target plan), provincial plans, and municipal and community plans and strategies, are being implemented.

Canada reporting to the UNFCCC on Paris targets describes the following:

In the electricity sector, the federal government is working to phase out traditional coal-fired electricity generation by 2030, and invest in renewable power, and reduced reliance on diesel in Indigenous, northern and remote communities. In the transportation sector, Canada has emissions standards for light and heavy-duty vehicles (post-2018 models) and is investing in the Zero-Emissions Vehicle Strategy infrastructure to reach 30% of light-duty vehicle sales per year by 2030. Canada also has underway a federal Clean Fuel Standard framework, to come into force in 2022.

In the building sector, measures include: improving energy efficiency in buildings and appliances with work underway to adopt more stringent codes for new and existing buildings starting in 2020. This includes a “net-zero energy ready” model building code by 2030. Canada has taken steps to reduce GGEs in the industrial sector by regulating methane emissions (2017) from the oil and gas sector (45% by 2025). Energy efficiency benchmarks such as ENERGY STAR certification are underway for commercial and institutional buildings. In 2019, an online platform was launched for home energy labeling in sharing of home energy use ratings.

The Pan-Canadian Framework carbon pricing regulations began in 2018. Policies proposed includes a new standard for biofuels, and major investments in clean technology, low carbon economy, green infrastructure, urban transit development, and adaptation initiatives. Once fully implemented, the Framework will continue to achieve emission reductions beyond 2030.

Impacts – Canada’s energy supply generation by source in 2017, included gas/oil/other 10%, coal 9%, hydro 60%, nuclear 15% and renewables 7%. Between 2000 and 2017, emissions from electricity production decreased by 43%, largely because of non-emitting sources. Emissions from oil and gas production increased by 23% because of a 46% increase in production. Emissions from heavy industry decreased by almost 22% in the industrial sector (largely due to higher energy efficiency standards). Transportation GGEs increased by 19%. Renewable electricity generation increased by 18% between 2010 and 2017. There have been no new nuclear plants built since 1977.

Clean energy GDP is expected to rise an average 3.4% annual growth rate between 2020 and 2030. Coal phase-out in power generation and falling natural gas prices will reduce the expected role of coal. A combination of crude oil supply growth with improved vehicle efficiencies has changed the discussion from peak oil supply to peak oil demand. The falling cost of renewables (particularly wind and solar) now allows them to compete with natural gas pricing. By 2030, Canadians are expected to use less energy given efficiencies. New vehicle fuel emission regulations are expected to improve the average vehicle fuel economy and gradual decommissioning of nuclear plants will reduce nuclear use.


Changes in future energy use will be driven by energy efficiency improvements, technology, policy, and economic factors.

Activity Rating: *** Moving in the Right Direction to reducing GGEs

Take Action: 

To request action, please contact Minister O’Regan, with the following message:

Major energy sector reforms are supporting Canada’s pursuit of a low-carbon future but Canada is still challenged to meet its Paris Agreement targets. A systems approach extending from energy policy through to energy production and delivery should link climate concerns more to energy and decouple energy use more from economic growth in many decisions to reach 1.5 degrees C.


The Honourable Seamus O’Regan, Minister of Natural Resources


Mail: House of Commons, Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6

Tel: 1 613 992-0927

For more information, please email Climate Scorecard Canadian Country Manager: Diane Szoller at

Leave a Reply


Climate Scorecard depends on support from people like you.

We are a team of researchers providing information on efforts to reduce global emissions. We help make you better informed and able to advocate for improved climate change efforts. Donations of any amount are welcome.