While it’s easy to find headlines criticizing the pace of climate action as "not fast enough," it’s also easy to miss change that comes in small steps rather than big leaps. It’s true that progress can’t happen quickly enough to keep alive the 1.5 C goal set by the Paris Agreement to prevent catastrophic global temperature rise. Small steps may be hardly noticeable or even enough but when combined, they create momentum that is driving effective climate action in Canada.

Climate policies and regulations are already at work gradually reducing emissions, with big gains expected once they kick into higher gear and loopholes that favour oil and gas use are closed. An independent assessment for the Canadian Climate Institute models existing climate policy against a no-climate-policy scenario and finds that emissions today would be seven per cent higher, and 41 per cent higher in 2030, without climate legislation and policies.

Last year, Canada moved ahead with plans to clean up the electricity grid, cap harmful emissions from fossil fuels and make electric vehicles more available and affordable. These regulatory and policy advances address emissions and also bring economic benefits, including more jobs and better health. Announcements for new investments in electric vehicles and battery manufacturing signal that the clean energy economy is ramping up as plans move ahead to phase out gas-powered vehicles. The policies are big cost-savers compared to not acting on the worsening climate crisis.

And after decades of silence, at the 2023 COP28 climate summit in the United Arab Emirates, the world finally agreed it is time to transition off oil, gas and coal. While gaping loopholes remain that risk expanding gas production and relying too much on unproven technologies like carbon capture and storage, the main culprit behind the climate crisis — the fossil fuel industry — was finally identified.

Calls for accountability measures — such as a windfall tax on fossil fuel industry profits and a ban on fossil fuel advertising (as health providers and others are urging) — underscore the importance of thinking outside the box to drive down emissions. More solutions now incorporate equity as a goal as people struggle to pay for rent and food while oil and gas companies rake in record profits.

Indigenous communities are demonstrating what leading a transition to a clean energy economy with equitable solutions looks like. Many are gaining energy sovereignty through renewables. Outside of utilities, Indigenous nations are the largest renewable energy asset owners in Canada.

Then, there’s the spectacular rise of solar, wind and other renewable energy. The International Energy Agency is projecting that nearly half of the world's electricity supply will come from renewable sources by 2030. Renewable energy has become the lowest-priced energy in history. Heat pumps and energy efficiency have hit the mainstream.

So what stands in the way of Canada meeting its climate targets? Some provinces, politicians and industries are trying to slow climate action under the dubious guise of addressing affordability.

Alberta and Saskatchewan, in particular, are delaying climate action on multiple fronts, challenging the very policies that are beginning to show results. Canada’s fossil fuel industry is risking leaving stranded assets as it seeks to increase production of products like liquefied “natural” (fracked methane) gas.

Some provinces, politicians and industries are trying to slow climate action under the dubious guise of addressing affordability, writes @theresabeer @DavidSuzukiFDN #cdnpoli #CleanEnergy #SayNo2FossilFuelSubsidies #SKpoli #abpoli #bcpoli

The British Columbia government is considering a massive expansion of the LNG export industry just as the Biden administration is pressing pause on new LNG development in the U.S. to consider climate, economic and energy security effects. B.C. Premier David Eby would be wise to follow the U.S.'s lead and pause LNG development. To ensure a climate-safe world, we must not allow more fossil-fuel infrastructure to be built anywhere, as the world’s leading energy market experts and climate scientists have been telling us again and again.

Conservative premiers and Pierre Poilievre are calling for a halt to effective policies, such as carbon pricing. But climate action based on politics rather than evidence won’t work. The carbon levy adds a small amount to inflationary woes compared to the volatile fossil fuel industry, and most people in Canada receive rebates to help with affordability — even though those rebates (the most recent arriving in January) are so poorly communicated they often go unrecognized.

We can’t afford more delays to climate action. We need to build on what’s already working to avoid worsening impacts from extreme weather: wildfires, floods and droughts. Ramping up the clean energy transition will move us more quickly away from our dependence on oil, gas and coal.

That’s how Canada can finally deliver on climate action and build more livable, sustainable communities in the process. The good news is that people in Canada want climate action.

It’s time for a “whole society” approach with all levels of government, industry, communities and people doing their part. That’s how to change the headline to “Canada’s climate action on track to make a big difference.”

Theresa Beer is a communications and policy specialist with the David Suzuki Foundation in Vancouver where she has worked on climate, nature and sustainable communities over the past 11 years. She has an M.A. in journalism and has worked in local government, union, education and health sectors on topics ranging from drug policy to housing and sustainability, to advocacy for public schools.

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The unholy alliance of Pierre Poilievre, Danielle Smith, Scott Moe, Doug Ford and Blaine Higgs are working to thwart, not just climate initiatives, but other government programs such as affordable daycare and housing. By not cooperating, federal programs will fail thereby harming millions of Canadians, but the blame can be conveniently cast upon PM Trudeau and the Liberal party. Unfortunately, too many Canadians have bought into this deceptive tactic.

We could learn from Columbia which massively and quickly changes to electric buses. Subsidies should go to electric school buses rather than carbon capture and storage. For half the price of new electric buses, existing diesel buses can be converted to electric drive. This would immediatly give a lot of employment and a sense of moving forward to the climate anxiety stressed youth.