Initial response on Canada’s 2030 Emissions Reduction Plan

“This is a watershed moment for Canadian climate policy. For the first time ever, Canada has a comprehensive and detailed plan for meeting its emissions reduction targets.”

Rick Smith, President of the Canadian Climate Institute, issued the following initial statement in response to today’s publication of the federal government’s 2030 Emissions Reduction Plan:

“This is a watershed moment for Canadian climate policy. For the first time ever, Canada has a comprehensive and detailed plan for meeting its emissions reduction targets. The plan includes necessary elements such as a path forward for implementation, accountability mechanisms to help course correct, and a sector-by-sector approach.”

“A plan is just a plan without action. Expedited implementation will be key to success, and Canada now needs to shift into high gear.”

“The Institute’s framework for Canada’s Emissions Reduction Plans determined that a robust approach needs three core elements: a credible path to net zero, credible policies to get there, and adaptive processes to ensure timely adjustments along the way. In the coming days, we will publish a detailed analysis of the federal plan to independently assess if it puts Canada on track to meet our emissions reduction obligations.

Experts at the Climate Institute reacted as follows:

“The Emissions Reductions Plan demonstrates a path to achieving deep emissions reductions by 2030, but only if the federal government accelerates policy implementation and is ready to adjust and adapt the Plan over time.” —Dale Beugin, VP Research

“The Plan provides a level of modeling transparency that we have not seen before. This is a big step forward to help provide assurance that the Plan is credible.” —Dave Sawyer, Principal Economist.

Key takeaways from the plan

  • This is a comprehensive plan that will drive emission reductions from all sectors of the economy. The 2030 Emissions Reduction Plan includes policies for all major sources of emissions, including buildings, transportation, heavy industry, and the oil and gas sector. 
  • It is also ambitious. The 40 per cent emissions reduction target, along with the interim target of 20 per cent by 2026 from 2005 levels, is consistent with pathways to net zero by 2050. It is aligned with the net zero pathways outlined in our report Canada’s Net Zero Future.
  • The Plan uses economic modelling to demonstrate a credible path to achieving the 2030 emissions milestone.  
  • The Plan is policy-driven, and does not rely on untested technology “wild cards.” At the same time, there is sufficient incentive for innovation of new technologies to support long-term, deep emissions reductions.
  • A few specific policy elements are new and notable:
    • To make carbon pricing work better by increasing policy certainty, the government will explore approaches to de-risk private sector low-carbon investments through approaches such as carbon contracts for differences.
    • Expanding on the contribution from the transportation sector, Canada will aim to reach 35 per cent of medium-and heavy-duty vehicles (MHDVs) sales being ZEVs by 2030. 
    • A significant expansion in funding to support technology deployment and innovation necessary for achieving longer-term reductions.
  • The Plan takes a sector-by-sector approach, which supports clear expectations about the contributions of each sector to achieving the national milestones. This transparency can help industry’s and investors’ medium-term planning. It also increases the credibility of the Plan and also allows its progress to be tracked and adapted as necessary.
  • For example, the Plan includes a 31 per cent emissions reduction contribution from the oil and gas industry, the largest sectoral emitter in the country. Multiple policies are focused on reducing emissions from the oil and gas sector.
  • The Plan recognizes that pathways to 2030 and on to 2050 must also ensure the competitiveness of the Canadian economy and the wellbeing of Canadians.
  • Implementation is the next big challenge. There is a lot to do in a short amount of time as noted in our assessment framework. Not all policies in the Plan have been fully designed. The projections in the Plan assume very quick implementation of policies such as an emissions cap for the oil and gas sector and reductions from nature based solutions.
  • As the Plan itself notes, the government will need to continuously improve and adjust over time to fill these gaps and update policies over time to deliver the necessary emissions reductions. For example, the Plan formally tasks the Net-Zero Advisory Body to provide the Minister of Environment and Climate Change with independent advice on achieving net-zero emissions by 2050. Additionally, the Finance Ministry will prepare annual reporting on key metrics.

Additional information


Catharine Tunnacliffe

Director of Communications

(226) 212-9883