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North West Territories

  Last Updated:  

January 1, 2021


44,904 (1)

Current majority government:

Premier: Caroline Cochrane

Consensus Government 

All Members of Legislative Assembly are Independents (2)

Environmental stance of majority party:

“Through implementation of the 2030 NWT Climate Change Strategic Framework, the GNWT [Government of the Northwest Territories] will address the concerns and interest of NWT residents by providing the GNWT with a long-term comprehensive and coordinated response to climate change, outlined in three goals: 

1) Transition to a strong, healthy economy that uses less fossil fuel, thereby reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 30% below 2005 levels by 2030. 

2) Increasing understanding of climate change impacts occurring in the NWT. 

3) Building resilience and adapting to a changing climate.” (3)

Percentage of 2020/2021 budget estimated to be allocated to the environment:

$97,085,000 (5.1% of Total Government Expenses) (4)

Main provincial-level legislation for environment protection:

Environmental Protection Act (5) 

  • Broad act regulating pollution and environmental contaminants. 

Environmental Rights Act (6) 

  • Defines the environmental values of the NWT and states that “every adult resident in the Northwest Territories has the right to protect the environment and the public trust.”

Specific government-based environmental programs:

2030 NWT Climate Change Strategic Framework (7) 

  • Lays out the Northwest Territories’ goals and plans in terms of climate action. 

Renewable and Alternative Energy (8) 

  • Directory of resources about alternative energy sources in the NWT and government programs in regard to them. These alternative energy sources include: -Hydro Power -Solar Power -Wind Power -Biomass -Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) 

Science and Monitoring (9) 

  • Home of the the government’s climate science program tracking the effects of climate change on the territory.

Next election date:

On or before October 2nd, 2023. (12)

Extra information:

Environment + Energy (13) 

  • Government Department responsible for conservation, climate change, energy, and wildlife. As of April 2020, the Minister responsible is Shane Thompson.

What makes this province different?

Because of the intense fuel demands required to live in northern communities disconnected from the rest of the country, the NWT has significant greenhouse gas emissions per capita, not to mention the greenhouse gas emissions and high costs associated with the need to import most goods. As well, according to Canada's Changing Climate Report (2019) (14), the Territory is warming at a rate three times higher than the national average. Warming is causing tangible effects on many communities, including increased permafrost thaw, erosion, longer seasons without ice, and a greater risk of forest fires. These environmental changes “are also impacting the health and well-being of residents, Indigenous culture and lifestyle, the territory's infrastructure and some economic activities.” (15)

  Quick facts:  

The NWT is a member of the Pan-Territorial Adaptation Partnership (16), Arctic Energy Alliance (17), and Under 2 Coalition. (18)

Thawing permafrost causing damage to public infrastructure like roads and buildings. (19)

  • Beaufort sea water levels expected to rise up to one meter in 21st century, threatening coastal communities in NWT. (20)

  • Due to climate change, the NWT are expected to have an increased risk of wildfires in the years to come. (21) 

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