Published On: July 12, 2021

Unceded Algonquin Anishinaabe Territories [OTTAWA], 12 July 2021:

Canada’s enhanced Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC), submitted today to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, does not represent Canada’s highest possible ambition. 

Presented three months before COP26, Canada’s NDC offered the government an opportunity to show leadership on the international stage by announcing Canada’s contribution to meet the objectives of the Paris Agreement for the next decade and do its fair share to fight the climate crisis. Instead, while this NDC does represent progress from previous submissions, it mainly recycles existing commitments.

Last month, CAN-Rac published A People’s Plan: Benchmarks for Evaluating Canada’s International Climate Commitments Ahead of 2021 Summit, which identified seven benchmarks to evaluate Canada’s NDC. While some of Climate Action Network Canada’s recommendations have been incorporated into this NDC, it still falls short in several crucial areas:

  • Equity: The NDC reaffirms a target range of 40 to 45% greenhouse gas emissions reductions below 2005 levels in 2030, announced at the Leaders’ Summit on Climate in April 2021. This falls short of Canada’s fair share of the global climate effort to confront the climate crisis, which requires a reduction of at least 140% of emissions reductions below 2005 levels by 2030, including 60% at the domestic level. The NDC also represented an opportunity to highlight Canada’s efforts in supporting climate action globally, in particular through climate finance, which remains absent from this plan. 
  • Upholding human rights and Indigenous Peoples’ rights: Climate Action Network Canada welcomes Canada’s renewed efforts to support Indigenous climate action and commitment to uphold the mandate to ensure policies, measures and investments in line with needs of Indigenous Peoples, but the NDC does not explain how it will do so. Climate Action Network Canada looks forward to working with the federal government in ensuring a rights-based and feminist implementation of Canada’s NDC.
  • Rapid decarbonization plans, policies, and laws: The NDC details sectoral policies and measures under the Healthy Environment and a Healthy Economy plan, but fails to identify areas that require more significant progress and stringency. It is concerning that Canada’s Paris pledge fails to chart a course for a just transition away from oil and gas production, Canada’s largest and fastest-growing source of emissions.
  • Shifting financial flows: The NDC fails to commit to ending the expansion of its oil and gas industry and enacting a complete fossil fuels subsidies reform.
  • Adaptation, health and interconnectedness with nature: Canada is facing climate-induced losses and damages, as seen with the recent fires in the west of the country. While this NDC mentions domestic investments in natural resource management, Canada’s Paris pledge ignores the importance of a National Adaptation Strategy and any plans for addressing climate impacts, including impacts on health.
  • Just transition: While the NDC recognizes the need for more investment in skills and training as highlighted in the Healthy Environment and a Healthy Economy plan, this NDC fails to identify how workers’ voices will be considered in climate planning and measures to advance a just transition.
  • Whole-of-country cooperation: The NDC sets out provincial and territorial targets for 2030, and the responsibility and capacity of provinces and territories to address climate change.

“The NDC is meant to reflect Canada’s highest possible level of ambition,” said Eddy Pérez, international climate diplomacy manager at Climate Action Network Canada. “We see ambition every day in the efforts of youth activists, of Indigenous leaders, of workers and Canadians from every walk of life calling for action that matches the scale of the crisis. We’re not seeing it in this NDC. Canada needs to fill in the gaps – both in ambition and in concrete policy measures – before COP26.” 


Canada’s farthest-reaching network of organizations working on climate change and energy issues, Climate Action Network – Réseau Action Climat is a coalition of more than 130 organizations operating from coast to coast to coast. Our membership brings environmental groups together with trade unions, First Nations, social justice, development, health and youth organizations, faith groups and local, grassroots initiatives.

For media inquiries:

Vicky Coo, communications lead, Climate Action Network, 613-203-3272