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Greening government

Long-term goal

The Government of Canada will transition to low-carbon, climate-resilient, and green operations

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Why is this issue important

We are committed to becoming a leader on climate change. As we move forward on the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change, we will take action to ensure that we, the federal government, are doing our part and contributing to the broader economy-wide plan.

We have a large real property portfolio that uses a significant amount of energy. We also spend billions each year on goods and services in order to serve Canadians. Our large footprint means we have an opportunity to support the transition to a low-carbon economy, stimulate the clean tech sector, contribute to Canada's international climate change commitments, and achieve cost savings.

Making our real property low-carbon, climate-resilient, and green is integral to achieving our long-term target. Real property constitutes 89% of our targeted emissions and is linked to many other commitments in the Greening Government Strategy. It also accounts for nearly 40% of our procurement. By requiring that new buildings be net-zero carbon, all major retrofits prioritize low-carbon approaches, and all buildings use 100% clean electricity by 2025, we are greening our procurement, lowering our emissions and encouraging the transition to the clean economy. We're also taking action to green our office leases in buildings where the government is the major tenant.

The Greening Government Strategy

Introduced in 2017, the Greening Government Strategy sets a target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from federal operations by 40% by 2030 (with an aspiration to achieve this target by 2025) and by 80% by 2050 relative to 2005 levels (with an aspiration to be carbon neutral). The Greening Government Strategy outlines specific measures to achieve this target and also outlines a broader scope for our greening efforts, including actions on adapting to climate change, transitioning to clean energy, and integrating greening across government procurement.

The Greening Government Fund

In recognition of the significant greenhouse gas emissions that result from air travel, starting in 2019-2020 departments and agencies that generate greenhouse gas emissions in excess of 1 kiloton per year from air travel will contribute annually to the Greening Government Fund. This fund will support projects that allow departments to explore innovative approaches to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

National safety and security greenhouse gas emissions from government operations

Consistent with practices in other jurisdictions, some greenhouse gas emissions are excluded from the Government of Canada's greenhouse gas emissions reduction target for safety and security reasons. Examples are emissions from military, Coast Guard or Royal Canadian Mounted Police operations. These national safety and security related emissions will be tracked and publicly disclosed. Alternative energy options will be examined to potentially reduce emissions through new technologies, operational efficiencies and other innovative processes.

Actions on plastic waste in federal operations

Plastics play a major role in our economy and daily lives. However, plastic pollution is a growing problem in Canada and around the world. Canada has committed to global leadership in government operations that are low-carbon, resilient and green. We are taking practical steps, consistent with the waste management elements of the Greening Government Strategy and the Policy on Green Procurement to better manage the use and disposal of plastics in our operations by increasing the diversion rate of plastic waste, reducing our unnecessary use of single-use plastics and procuring more sustainable plastics products.

Canada in the world

Doing our part on climate change supports the 2030 Agenda and its global Sustainable Development Goals—in particular SDG 7, Affordable and Clean Energy; SDG 9, Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure; SDG 11, Sustainable Cities and Communities; SDG 12, Responsible Consumption and Production; and SDG 13, Climate Action. It also supports specific SDG targets, as well as other international agreements and initiatives.

For details on how this goal supports international action, see Annex 3.

Connections with other FSDS areas

Reducing greenhouse gas emissions from our own operations and making our buildings and operations more resilient to support FSDS targets related to climate action, clean growth and clean energy.

Our partners

We work with provincial, territorial and municipal governments to further joint greening objectives. We also partner with Indigenous communities to implement initiatives such as the purchase of clean electricity.

Canadian companies are also important partners—their research and development into clean and innovative technologies will help us to reduce our emissions.

Partners taking action - Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment

Lights on the Path: A Compendium of Best and Promising Practices for Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Building Resilience in Government Operation was issued under the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment and overseen by the Pan-Canadian federal-provincial-territorial Community of Practice for Climate Leadership that is co-chaired by the Centre for Greening Government and the Province of British Columbia.

The compendium is intended as a resource for governments in their efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from their own operations, scale up efforts to transition to highly efficient buildings and zero-emission fleets, and implement new approaches to procurement that support Canadian businesses, demonstrate new technologies and practices, and create jobs.

Partners taking action - Canada Green Building Council

The Canada Green Building Council partnered with the Government of Canada to identify the incremental cost, if any, of building net zero carbon buildings in various jurisdictions across Canada. The study demonstrated in most cases that there was no incremental cost over the lifecycle of the building of constructing various building types such as offices, warehouses and residential towers to be net-zero carbon.

Responsible ministers/Key departments and agencies

All ministers/All departments and agencies

Canada's starting point

  • To track our progress on achieving low-carbon government, we measure greenhouse gas emissions from our operations. The baseline year for this measure is 2005-2006 when emissions from our operations totaled 1637 kilotonnes carbon dioxide equivalent. As of 2017-2018, departments and agencies have reduced emissions from their buildings and fleets by 32% relative to 2005-2006.
  • All departments are required to reduce their emissions. However, most government emissions result from buildings and fleets. Therefore, only departments that own real property or fleets over 50 vehicles are required to report on their scope 1 and scope 2 emissions from those sources. Scope 1 emissions are those produced directly by sources owned or controlled by departments, such as vehicle fleets, and scope 2 emissions are those generated indirectly from the consumption of purchased energy, such as the electricity used in buildings.