Questions for further exploration

The recommendations we make in the section above articulate a potential approach to tailoring climate accountability frameworks to the Canadian context. However, there are additional questions that will still need to be explored in order to move forward with climate accountability frameworks in Canada. Two key questions stand out:

How will climate accountability frameworks in Canada address climate policy integration?

In Section 2 we identify climate policy integration as a best practice—namely, considering not only climate change mitigation but also adaptation and inclusive clean growth. The benefits of integration are clear. Integration can identify areas where policies focused on mitigation, adaptation, or clean growth might be at odds. It can move the discussion on how emissions reduction efforts get distributed—which risks becoming myopic and divisive—to one focused on economic diversification and realizing the opportunities that come with addressing climate change. And it helps ensure that Canada’s response to the overall climate change challenge is well considered, robust, and resilient.

However, the lessons that can be drawn from our case studies are fairly limited when it comes to pursuing policy integration. While frameworks
in the U.K. and Aotearoa/New Zealand contain elements focused on adaptation, including stipulations to conduct risk assessments and develop adaptation plans, they lack any sort of formal requirements that those risks are actually reduced. They also pursue adaptation as separate from reducing emissions, rather than pursuing both simultaneously as part of a larger climate change policy challenge. And while France’s accountability framework connects reducing emissions to broader low-carbon development pathways, it does not integrate adaptation and resilience issues into these pathways.

Realizing the benefits of integration in a Canadian climate accountability framework will require going beyond the experiences described in our case studies. Some dimensions will be relatively straightforward. For example, there is clearly a case for broadening the scope of monitoring and reporting to focus not only on outcomes that reduce emissions but on adaptation and clean growth ones as well, to provide a larger picture of how (and how effectively) Canadian governments are addressing climate change. Other dimensions will be much more complex. For example, should there be adaptation and clean growth milestones? How should they be measured? How broad should the scope of “clean growth” be? Is it simply focused on clean technology, or is it focused on the sustainability of the economy as a whole? What sorts of policy measures should be on the table for pursuing it? Given municipalities’ contribution to climate change adaptation, what should their role be in related governance processes? And critically (and a topic we return to below), what role will Canada’s Indigenous Peoples and governments play in helping ensure an integrated response to climate change in Canada?

How will a Canadian climate accountability framework recognize Indigenous rights and support the process of reconciliation?

A Canadian climate accountability framework will not be successful unless it recognizes Indigenous rights, along with historic and modern treaties, and meaningfully engages Indigenous Peoples throughout the decision- making processes.

Canada has a stated desire to pursue reconciliation and a clear legal obligation to recognize Indigenous rights and title in the design of an accountability framework. Addressing climate change in Canada will require unprecedented inter-governmental collaboration. Effective climate policy will require not only ensuring Indigenous nations’ participation from the very start as a concerted partner but, more fundamentally, formally recognizing the integral role they must play in the associated climate governance processes.

Aotearoa/New Zealand’s experience, discussed in Box 2, can offer lessons on recognizing Indigenous rights. But the experience and histories of Indigenous Peoples in Canada are unique, so appropriately addressing Indigenous rights, title, and governance in the Canadian context will require different solutions.

Some aspects are fairly clear-cut. The recommendations and advice of an expert advisory body would be incomplete without the inclusion of Indigenous perspectives. Any Canadian climate accountability framework should include an obligation to consider how climate policy could affect Indigenous Peoples and include a requirement to report on these potential impacts.

In addition, the expert advisory body itself should include Indigenous representation. The unique Indigenous ways of knowing, doing, and being, as well as the insights that Indigenous Peoples bring, are an essential perspective that an expert advisory body must recognize and build on to be effective. However, in designing the expert advisory body, Canada should consider new ways to ensure Indigenous representation addresses structural imbalances and empowers Indigenous Peoples to participate in a meaningful way. For example, the framework could establish a dedicated Indigenous committee of the advisory body. Consideration should be given to how this relates to the proposed National Council for Reconciliation recommended by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada in their 2015 Calls to Action.

Other dimensions are less obvious. How can collaboration between different orders of government, including Indigenous governments, be fostered? How can the accountability framework ensure it fairly shares powers and responsibilities between these participants? And given the different perspectives, experiences, and ways of life of Indigenous Peoples across Canada, how can an accountability framework ensure their diversity of perspectives are taken into account?

These questions are just a sample of the ones Canadian and Indigenous governments will have to wrestle with. This paper does not pretend to have the answers. Nevertheless, we are certain that effective climate accountability frameworks cannot move forward in Canada until these questions are thoroughly considered, discussed, and answered in a way that meaningfully reflects Indigenous Peoples’ perspectives.

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