This article examines the results of a Globe and Mail survey which shows that Canadians feel the federal government has failed to provide leadership on climate change and outlines the levels of popular support for various strategies to address this issue.

Getting Started

Appropriate Subject Area(s):

Environmental studies, politics, world issues

Key Questions to Explore:

  • Why has the federal government been so remiss in effectively addressing climate change?
  • What are some effective strategies to help reduce our greenhouse gas emissions?
  • How prepared are the Canadian people to support actions necessary to address climate change?

New Terminology:

Carbon tax, cap and trade

Materials Needed:

  • Access to the Internet for research
Study and Discussion Activity

Introduction to lesson and task:

It has been well documented that the current federal Conservative government has failed to take steps necessary to address the climate change challenge and meet our global commitments on greenhouse gas emissions. Much federal government posturing has occurred but the fact is we will not meet our pledge to reduce our emissions by 17% from 2005 levels by 2020.  Instead the provinces have stepped forward and taken some action. Already, as the article shows, British Columbia has a carbon tax, Alberta to a lesser extent; Quebec has a cap and trade system and Ontario is on the verge of introducing its own strategy.

The survey shows that Canadians are expecting some federal leadership in this area and are identifying this as an issue for the fall’s general election. There are a number of suggestions as to how to address this issue, all with their supporters and critics. This lesson will have the students, in groups, examine what they consider to be effective strategies, select the one they feel is best and prepare a presentation for the class explaining their chosen approach and their rationale.

Action (lesson plan and task):

  • Begin the lesson by asking the students, through a show of hands, how many believe that Canada will meet its climate change commitments of a 17% reduction of 2005 levels by 2020.
  • Once the level of support has been established ask them to offer ideas as to why it is unlikely that we will meet our international commitment.
  • Ask them to indicate how prepared they think the people of Canada are to make the necessary sacrifices in order to address the climate change challenge.
  • With this as background, give them a copy of the article and allow them time to read it.
  • Without discussing the article, arrange the students into working groups of five or six and assign them the following task:

Examine what you consider to be effective strategies to address climate change and, selecting the one you consider to be the best option, prepare a report for the class on the methodology of that strategy and your rationale for believing that is the most effective approach.

  • Allow the groups the remainder of class time to conduct their discussions, do their research and prepare their report.

Consolidation of Learning:

  • The second period of the lesson will be used for group reports and for the students to ask questions of the groups and to discuss the details of the presentations.
Success and Additional Learning

Success Criteria:

The students will be able to:

  • indicate the level of willingness of Canadians to support a federal initiative to address climate change.
  • outline various strategies which could be used to address the challenge.
  • explain why the federal government has been a laggard in this area.

Confirming Activity:

  • Following the discussion of the presentations hold a plenary session during which the students can assess the various strategies presented and attempt to arrive at a general consensus as to the best strategy for Canada to address greenhouse gas emissions.