The impacts of climate change are happening all across Canada. Extreme weather events and aggressive wildfires like these are likely to continue. Canada has committed to reduce the emissions of greenhouse gasses and to adapt to the impacts of climate change. Overall, we found that the government has come up short.
Our team examined the federal government’s efforts on four fronts: reducing greenhouse gas emissions, adapting to climate change, eliminating subsidies to the fossil fuel industry and promoting clean energy.
Reducing greenhouse gas emissions is urgent and necessary. Although the government has improved its collaboration with provinces and territories, we continue to see delayed actions in implementing reduction measures.
Over the past 25 years, the government put in place many plans. Yet, greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise.
Also, the government has not met any of its emission reductions commitments. It will not achieve the 2020 target, and is instead focusing on the new 2030 target.
On adapting to climate change, we found that the federal government is NOT ready to deal with the impacts that will affect the programs and services offered to Canadians.
Our audit looked at nineteen federal departments and agencies to see if the government as a whole had an action plan for adaptation, and if each federal organization managed the risk related to climate change. We found there was a lack of central direction from the part of the federal government; that there was no action plan and therefore that departments didn’t know what to do and by when.
We found that only five of the nineteen organizations managed their climate change risks. The rest of them, for the most part, acknowledged the need to adapt, but took limited concrete actions.
So, the federal government does not have a complete picture of its climate change risks. It is unable to prioritize its activities or to tell how prepared its programs and services are.
When it comes to the future, the federal government has recognized that it has an important role to play in supporting and promoting new green, clean energy technologies.
Our audit found that the government did a good job managing the funding of clean energy demonstration projects. The money was properly spent and properly approved, and it was easy to track.
However, we’ve seen that the government continues to subsidize fossil fuels.
Climate change is one of the defining issues of this century. It will require a whole of government approach to achieve the objectives that Canada has set for itself. It’s time to move from planning to action. Our team will continue to audit the federal government’s commitments when it comes to climate change in the future.