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Understanding the Goals and Accomplishments of Canada’s Minister of Environment and Climate Change

Updated: May 31, 2020

Following the recent 2019 Federal election, Prime Minister Trudeau appointed Member of Parliament Jonathan Wilkinson as the new Minister of Environment and Climate Change, replacing the former minister, Catherine McKenna (1, 2). While holding this position, Catherine McKenna focused on initiatives, such as carbon tax, investing in cleaner technology, and protection of the Ottawa River (3). McKenna was also one of the leading Ministers involved in Canada’s pledged single-use plastics ban, expected to take place by 2021 (4).

The title ‘Minister of Environment’ is now known as the Minister of Environment and Climate Change,’ as change which took place in 2015 when Catherine McKenna took up the position under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (5, 6). The addition of the term climate change to the title coincides with Prime Minister Trudeau’s promise to make climate change a priority within his government (6). The expectations for this position, as outlined by Prime Minister Trudeau, include “implementing the whole-of-government plan for climate action, a cleaner environment and a sustainable economy” (1). In accordance with the Paris Agreement, the expectation for Canada is to lower our greenhouse gas emissions to 30% below the levels of 2005 by 2030 (7), a goal which was originally announced by Leona Aglukkaq while they held the position of Minster of Environment (5). According to the 2019 Emissions Gap Report, Canada is one of a multitude of G20 countries who are expected to miss their emissions targets (8). This expectation set out aims to accomplish Canada’s targets set for 2030 and reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 (1).

The Prime Minister has also set out additional tasks for the Minister to accomplish based on the core elements of Environment and Climate Change Canada, focusing on protection of ecosystems and citizens based on the changes to our climate (1). If you’re interested in reading more about the responsibilities of the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, click here for the full mandate letter written by the Prime Minister.

With ambitious goals for the Minister to attain in the upcoming years, this document will be continuously updated to monitor the progress and ensure accountability of the current government.


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