SDG 7: Affordable and clean energy
On this page
The environmental perspective
This chapter's focus on increasing Canadian's access to clean energy supports SDG Global Indicator Framework targets 7.1: By 2030, ensure universal access to affordable, reliable and modern energy services; 7.2: By 2030, increase substantially the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix; and 7.3: By 2030, double the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency.
Access to affordable and reliable energy is essential to eradicating poverty, a crucial enabler of economic growth and improved living standards, and a cornerstone of modern lifestyles. At the same time, energy production and use is currently the dominant contributor to climate change, accounting for around 78% of total global greenhouse gas emissions. In Canada, as in the rest of the world, greenhouse gas emissions primarily come from activities such as non-renewable electricity production, oil and gas production, transportation, and heating and cooling of buildings using fossil fuels. Clean and affordable energy is essential to Canada's and the world's aspirations to decarbonize the economy and achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions. There are 3 key pathways to decarbonize how we use energy: efficiency, electrification, and clean fuels.
Canada reduced its energy consumption per dollar of economic activity by approximately 31% from 1990 to 2017 but remains one of the world's largest per-capita consumers of energy and approximately 81% of its greenhouse gas emissions come from energy production and use. Canadians use more energy per capita due to the country's extreme temperatures, vast landscape and dispersed population. Energy efficiency has an important role in meeting Canada's emissions reduction targets, while also helping individual Canadians and businesses save money on energy costs, improving competitiveness, and creating jobs.
Canadians have access to some of the world's cleanest electricity. In 2019, 82% of electricity generated in Canada came from non-greenhouse-gas-emitting sources, including 67% from renewables and 15% from nuclear. However, remote and northern communities are not afforded equal access to reliable sources of clean energy and typically rely on diesel fuel for electricity and heat. Increasing access to reliable and affordable clean energy is vital for enhancing the economic development and well-being of remote and northern communities, and for meeting the Government of Canada's climate change targets.
Electrification provides a foundation for decarbonization strategies such as electrifying transportation, heating and cooling of buildings, and certain industrial applications. It also underpins digitization, smart technology, and the internet of things, all of which play a critical role in managing energy and increasing demand.
Clean fuels produce fewer greenhouse gas emissions than traditional fuels. Growing Canada's clean fuels market will help reduce our carbon footprint by cutting emissions from hard-to-abate sectors. Canada is rich in a variety of feedstocks that can be used to make clean fuels like hydrogen, cellulosic ethanol, renewable natural gas, and sustainable aviation fuel. Even our abundant fossil fuel resources can be converted to clean hydrogen when coupled with carbon capture and storage technologies. These fuels can be used to power our transportation and industrial sectors, supporting Canada's energy sector transition to a net-zero economy.
Where the Government of Canada is going
Mandate letters released in December 2021 outline the Government of Canada's direction and policy priorities. Selected commitments related to Sustainable Development Goal 7 are listed below.
- Work on the development of model building codes, including publishing a net-zero emissions building code and model retrofit code by the end of 2024 that align with national climate objectives and provide a standard for climate-resilient buildings (Minister of Natural Resources; Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry).
- Expand the eligibility requirements of the deep home retrofit loan program to include more climate resilience measures, while also ensuring the program remains accessible to both individual homeowners and multi-unit residential buildings (Minister of Housing and Diversity and Inclusion).
- In support of Canada's efforts to achieve a net-zero electricity grid by 2035, advance near-term consultations with provinces, territories, Indigenous communities and interested parties to develop and implement strategies to decarbonize electricity systems (Minister of Natural Resources; with support from the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Infrastructure and Communities).
- Work to connect regions with carbon intensive electricity systems to more clean power by supporting transmission lines and the integration of renewables and clean fuels.
- Provide grants of up to $5,000 for home retrofits through the Canada Greener Homes Grants Program and creating a Climate Adaptation Home Rating Program as a companion to the EnerGuide home energy audits (Minister of Natural Resources).
- Advance the Atlantic Loop initiative to connect surplus clean power to regions transitioning away from coal and to help transform how we power our economy and communities (Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Infrastructure and Communities; Minister of Environment and Climate Change; Minister of Natural Resources; Minister of Official Languages and Minister responsible for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency).
How the Government of Canada contributes
The Government of Canada is committed to working with partners to develop and implement strategies to decarbonize regional electricity systems, grow the market for clean fuels and transform Canada's building stock for the climate era.
Canada's strengthened climate plan, A Healthy Environment and a Healthy Economy, as well as the 2030 Emissions Reduction Plan build on the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change. It is the federal plan to build a better future with a healthier economy and environment, helping to make life more affordable for households, make Canadian communities more livable, and ensure a focus on workers and their careers in a stronger and cleaner economy. Through the plan, Canada is expanding the supply of clean electricity through investments in renewable and next generation clean energy and technology; provide incentives to make clean energy and technology more affordable and improve the energy efficiency of Canadian homes and buildings; incent the uptake of technologies that reduce the carbon intensity of liquid fuels and invest in clean fuels production; and support the transition of Indigenous and northern communities to clean, renewable and reliable energy.
The Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program supports energy security in communities in the North, including Indigenous communities, by investing in upgrades to existing fossil-fuel-based energy systems, as well as supplementing or replacing these systems with renewable energy options, improving energy reliability and efficiency and reducing pollution. It also supports projects that increase capacity to manage more renewable energy, improve access to clean energy transportation, increase the energy efficiency of buildings, and improve the production of clean energy.
The Government of Canada collaborated with stakeholders including industry, other levels of government, Indigenous organizations, non-government organizations and academia to develop the Hydrogen Strategy for Canada, a call to action to position Canada to seize environmental and economic opportunities that exist across the country. The government is now working on an implementation plan with stakeholders. The Clean Fuels Fund, a $1.5 billion investment in the clean fuels sector, is one of many federal initiatives supporting this strategy.
Canada is also working to enhance energy security and efficiency and to accelerate the pace of the clean and inclusive energy transition around the world. As a founding member of the International Energy Agency (IEA), Canada actively supports the development of net-zero roadmaps—tracking progress, enhancing its assistance to priority countries, leveraging its expertise through data, supporting modelling and analysis, and providing policy advice to IEA member governments and key emitters. Recognizing the importance of an inclusive and equitable clean transition, Canada is a strong advocate of a people-centred approach and was an active member of the IEA's Global Commission on People-Centred Clean Energy Transitions.
Canada is a member of the Clean Energy Ministerial, which brings together 29 countries and the European Union to accelerate progress on energy efficiency, clean energy supply and clean energy access. Canada also advances its clean energy agenda through the Group of Seven (G7) and Group of Twenty (G20).
The Powering Past Coal Alliance, co-founded and co-chaired by Canada and the UK, is the world's leading initiative seeking to accelerate clean growth and climate protection through the rapid phase-out of unabated coal power. As of November 2021, the alliance has over 165 members, including national governments, sub-national governments and organizations. It is committed to just transition and an economically-inclusive phase-out of coal through its Just Transition Taskforce. Domestically, Canada has committed to phasing out traditional coal-fired electricity by 2030 and with new regulations in place, will end exports of thermal coal by 2030.
At the 26th Conference of the Parties (COP26) climate summit in November 2021, the Prime Minister announced up to $1 billion for the Climate Investment Funds Accelerated Coal Transition Investment Program through Canada's international climate finance contribution. This investment will help developing countries transition from coal-fired electricity to clean power as quickly as possible. Also at COP26, Canada, together with 39 other countries, development institutions, and multilateral development banks, committed to end new direct public support for the international unabated fossil fuel energy sector by the end of 2022 and prioritize spending on clean energy.
Canada is a founding member of Mission Innovation, an initiative among 23 governments launched in 2015 to enhance collaboration and catalyze action and investment in research, development and demonstration to make clean energy affordable, attractive and accessible for all. Mission Innovation 2.0 was launched in June 2021 and Canada continues to play a leadership role, notably by co-leading the Carbon Dioxide Removal Mission, and participating in the Green Power and Clean Hydrogen Missions.
Finally, Canada is a member of the International Renewable Energy Agency, an intergovernmental organization with more than 160 member countries dedicated to producing energy from clean, sustainable energy sources. Canada recently contributed to the launch of a Multi-stakeholder Platform for Transitioning Remote Communities to Renewable Energy, which will serve as a global communication platform on the topic of energy transitions for remote communities.
Access to energy in Indigenous and northern communities
About 200 communities across Canada rely completely on diesel fuel for heat and power. The vast majority are Indigenous or have significant Indigenous populations. Remote communities consume more than 680 million litres of diesel per year and close to two thirds of this is used for heat, as many remote communities are located in harsh environments. Diesel reliance has negative consequences for these communities as it is costly, inefficient, and contributes to local pollution. It can also create ripple effects that deeply impact these communities' socioeconomic development.
Many Indigenous communities view access to energy as a key aspect of reconciliation and energy sovereignty. In response, the Government of Canada is investing in several clean energy projects in Indigenous communities. For example, the Fort Chipewyan Solar Project has received $4.5 million toward building a 2.2-megawatt solar energy and energy storage project in northern Alberta. The project, Canada's largest off-grid solar project, is owned by 3 neighbouring Indigenous groups in Fort Chipewyan. It will produce 20% of the community's electricity, displacing 650,000 litres of diesel fuel per year and reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 1,743 tonnes annually.