In contrast, Canada has a comparatively weak level of commitment to international and national climate change action. This Brief explores the reasons for these two countries’ divergent climate change policy approaches, with a focus on national-level action in Canada, and examines the lessons Canadian policy-makers can draw from their UK counterparts.

Key messages

  • Although Canada and the United Kingdom (UK) each constitute only approximately 2% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, there is a vast gap between the level of action and commitment in the UK when compared to Canada in terms of climate policy at the national level. The UK has an aggressive and comprehensive action plan to decarbonise its economy, whereas Canada’s Federal government is pursuing a sector-by-sector regulatory approach, with fragmented action between the Federal government and the provinces.
  • The UK is a global leader on climate change with very ambitious and legally-binding emissions reduction targets, supported by highly developed policies, legislation and institutions. Canada on the other hand, withdrew from the Kyoto Protocol (Kyoto) and its overall GHG emissions are 17% higher than in 1990, although they have fallen since 2005. Nevertheless, Canada’s emissions do not appear to be on a fundamental downward trajectory and with existing policies, Canada is unlikely to meet its 2020 Copenhagen Accord target. On the other hand, the UK’s GHG emissions have fallen by 23% since 1990, which means that it has already met its Kyoto target of 12.5% below the base year.

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