Climate Change

Climate change is a long-term shift in the average weather conditions of a region, such as its typical temperature, rainfall, and windiness. Climate change means that the range of conditions expected in many regions has changed in recent decades and will continue to change over the coming decades. This means that there will also be changes in extreme conditions.

Status of climate change in Canada

Each of the last three decades has been warmer globally than any decade on record. From 1948 to 2016 the global average temperature increased by approximately 0.8°C. In Canada, the average temperature increased by 1.7°C during the same time period, about double the global average. Temperature increases are not uniform across Canada. Northern Canada has warmed by 2.3°C, about three times the global mean warming rate. Annual mean precipitation has increased, on average, in Canada with larger increases observed in northern regions. There is medium confidence in these observed changes, but they are consistent with outputs from model simulations.

Related effects vary by region and include more hot extremes, less cold extremes, more heavy downpours and potentially higher occurrence of flooding, droughts and wildfires. The impact of climate change on Canadians’ health and built and natural environments is expected to continue and to increase in the future.

Follow the following links for some examples of how Canada’s climate is changing:

Learn more about climate change in Canada by visiting the Canadian Centre for Climate Services.

Causes of climate change

Current climate change is mainly caused by human activities that release greenhouse gases to the atmosphere.

The sun’s energy warms the Earth and the warmed Earth releases heat to the atmosphere. Certain gases in the atmosphere trap this heat and act like the glass of a greenhouse. Such gases are called greenhouse gases. The main greenhouse gases are water vapour, carbon dioxide and methane. Greenhouse gases absorb heat and radiate some of it back to the Earth, raising surface temperatures. This process is called the greenhouse effect.

The greenhouse effect is a natural process, but it is being intensified by human activities that increase greenhouse gas levels in the atmosphere, especially carbon dioxide. Increasing greenhouse gas levels in the atmosphere makes it more effective at trapping heat, resulting in overall warming of the earth. Burning fossil fuels (coal, oil, gas) and some industrial processes are the main sources of carbon dioxide. Emissions of carbon dioxide anywhere affect climate change everywhere. Climate change caused by human activity is referred to as anthropogenic climate change.

Learn more about the causes of climate change and the greenhouse gas effect:

How much is Canada’s climate changing?

How has Canada’s climate changed to date, why, and what changes are projected for the future? Explore the changes that have occurred to our climate and future projections for how Canada could be impacted. Looking at temperature, precipitation, snow, ice, permafrost and freshwater availability as well as in Canada’s three oceans.

Find out more in Canada’s Changing Climate Report

How Canada is addressing climate change

The Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change is Canada’s plan – developed with the provinces and territories and in consultation with Indigenous peoples – to meet our emissions reduction targets, grow the economy, and build resilience to a changing climate. The plan sets Canada on a path to meet and exceed Canada’s 2030 target of a 30 percent reduction below 2005 levels of greenhouse gas emissions.

Read Canada’s plan to address climate change and access reports on its progress here:

See the projects the Government of Canada is supporting to fight climate change in communities across the country by visiting the Climate Action Map.

Access Climate Content

The map below illustrates an example of climate related data available through the Open Science and Data Platform.

Click on the button below to access this data and other climate related content.

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Greenhouse Gas Emissions From Large Facilities in Canada

This map is for illustrative purposes. The markers represent the approximate locations based on available data. The Government of Canada shall not be held liable for any third party’s interpretation of the Information. The Government of Canada reserves the right to change or revise the Information at any time.


This dataset was produced by Environment and Climate Change Canada. The points on the map represent total emissions of large greenhouse gas emitters in Canada for 2017. This type of information can contribute to the development, implementation and evaluation of climate change and energy policies and strategies in Canada.

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