Canada and G20 on collision course with catastrophic warming, report warns

Canada’s per-capita emissions are dropping, but are still more than double the G20 average

This year’s Climate Transparency Report, the world’s most comprehensive annual assessment of G20 climate action, finds that G20 countries including Canada are not yet on track to limit warming to 1.5°C. Unless climate ambition accelerates, G20 governments’ targets would still lead to warming of 2.4°C by the end of the century. 

The report adds urgency to COP 26, the upcoming international climate summit in Glasgow, where pressure is building for developed economies to double down on more ambitious emissions targets.

Canada has made strides in recent years, according to the report, including passing into law the Net-Zero Emissions Accountability Act. Canada’s per capita emissions dropped over four times faster than the G20 average between 2015 and 2018, yet Canada’s per capita emissions remain 2.6 times higher than that average. 

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to weigh down global economies, Canada leads the G20 in green recovery spending, with almost 75 per cent per cent of Canada’s recovery spending categorized as “green.” 

The use of renewables is rising across G20 countries, but coal and gas use also continue to rise. Renewables increased by 20 per cent between 2015 and 2020 and are projected to make up nearly a third of the G20’s power mix in 2021. Clean electricity already makes up 68 per cent of Canada’s power mix, with coal being phased out. Global growth in coal is mainly concentrated in China, followed by the United States and India. 

Highlights from Canada’s country profile:

  • Canada’s per capita emissions are 2.6 times higher than the G20 average.
  • Canada’s 2030 reduction pledge isn’t consistent with limiting global temperatures to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
  • Canada’s electricity sector generates six times fewer emissions than the G20 average and is becoming cleaner more quickly.
  • Canada’s transport emissions are four times higher than the G20 average, though are declining more quickly. 
  • Canada’s readiness to prepare for climate impacts—its so-called adaptation readiness— is ranked high at the national level, largely due to Canadian prosperity. However, key adaptation challenges remain within specific regions and sectors.

Other highlights from Climate Transparency 2021: 

  • Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, energy-related CO2 emissions declined by 7 per cent in 2020. However, in 2021, CO2 emissions are projected to rebound by 4 per cent across the G20, with Argentina, China, India, and Indonesia projected to exceed their 2019 emissions levels.
  • Between 2015 and 2020, the share of renewables in the G20’s power mix increased by 20 per cent, reaching 28.6 per cent of the G20’s power generation in 2020 and projected to reach 29.5 per cent in 2021.
  • From 2015 to 2020, the carbon intensity of the energy sector has decreased by 4 per cent across the G20.
  • Coal consumption is projected to rise by almost 5 per cent in 2021, with this growth concentrated in China (61 per cent), the USA (18 per cent) and India (17 per cent).

The Canadian Climate Institute is the Canadian partner organization for Climate Transparency. 

The Climate Transparency Report gathers the work of 16 research organizations and NGOs from 14 G20 members. It compares the adaptation, mitigation, and finance-related efforts of the G20, analyses recent policy developments, and identifies climate opportunities that G20 governments can seize. This is the seventh edition of the annual review of G20 climate action. 


“The G20 is on a collision course with catastrophic warming. As a key G20 member, Canada’s watershed moment has arrived: our targets are now legally binding, the technology needed to meet our 2030 target is available and affordable, and there’s a political consensus that we need to act. Now it’s time for Canada to accelerate the progress made to date and deliver.”

—Caroline Lee, Senior Research Associate, Canadian Climate Institute



Country Profile: Canada 


Catharine Tunnacliffe

Director of Communications

(226) 212-9883