Correcting Canada’s “one eye shut” climate policy

Angela Carter, Truzaar Dordi

Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned report


While the Government of Canada has begun to strengthen its climate policies, it does so with “one eye shut” as
it continues to avoid the climate consequences of increasing oil and gas production. Rather than constraining oil
and gas production as the United States is beginning to do, or committing to phase out fossil fuel production as
countries like France, Ireland, Denmark, New Zealand and others are announcing, the Canadian government
continues to foster growing oil and gas extraction by providing a range of supports to the sector that is driving
up emissions. To begin to meet its emission reduction targets, Canada must withdraw its support from oil and
gas extraction and begin a gradual phase out of production.
Canada has a unique responsibility to join the global first movers that are beginning to wind down fossil fuel
production: the country has historically benefitted from fossil fuel extraction that has added significantly to
global emissions; Canada has the financial capacity to transition; and frontline communities have long contested
fossil fuel projects. Yet instead of winding down oil and gas production, Canada features among a handful of
countries that, due to their oil and gas extraction ambitions, are making it difficult to limit global warming to
This paper provides a brief overview of Canada’s historical climate record and notes new efforts by the federal
government to make improvements. It then demonstrates how growing oil and gas production has impeded
Canada from meeting its climate commitments—and how this trend will continue given anticipated growing oil
and gas production until 2050. As a result, all other sectors in the Canadian economy will be required to make
deep emission reductions to permit oil and gas expansions if Canada is to meet its 2030 target.
The paper also provides a critical assessment of the multiple ways the federal government is now supporting oil
and gas production growth through continued financial support and the legitimization of unproven technological
solutions that validate and accelerate future extraction. As a corrective to this federal support for oil and gas
expansion, it recommends Canada join its demand-side climate policies with a supply-side approach, noting
numerous specific policies the federal government could adopt in the near-term to begin a gradual phase out of
oil and gas production.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherCascade Institute
Number of pages28
Publication statusPublished - 16 Apr 2021

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