This article examines steps that Norway has taken to improve its environmental performance while maintaining a healthy economy and goes on to compare these actions to what is happening in Canada.

Getting Started

Appropriate Subject Area(s):

Environmental studies, economics, politics

Key Questions to Explore:

  • How is Norway able to do these things while in Canada actions are few?
  • What is Canada doing to be both green and prosperous?
  • What more could Canada do?

New Terminology:

Canada’s Ecofiscal Commission, Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development

Materials Needed:

Access to the Internet

Study and Discussion Activity

Introduction to lesson and task:

The Harper government has long argued that significant environmental initiatives to reduce greenhouse gases cannot be undertaken because it would damage our economy. Any environmental action, therefore, has been judged in terms of economic impact rather than the degree to which it would help reduce carbon emissions and protect the future of this planet. Thus Canada is increasingly seen internationally as an environmental dinosaur and a hindrance to global action on climate change. The evidence to support this deteriorating reputation is well documented and continues to grow.

While Canada lags other countries are moving forward, developing renewable energy resources, limiting GHG emissions and restructuring economies to generate monies to further develop innovative technologies and approaches. The article which is being used as the basis for this lesson examines some efforts on the part of Norway and provides the students with an opportunity to compare Canadians’ situation to that of the Norwegians.

Action (lesson plan and task):

  • Ask the students to what degree they believe Canada’s prosperity is tied to its natural resources.
  • Once they have discussed this question ask them if they believe that a country that is based so strongly on development of natural resources such as oil and gas can be a leader in green initiatives to address climate change.
  • Ask them to rate Canada’s “green” efforts on a scale of 1 to 10 and have them provide reasons for their answers.
  • Ask them if they can identify countries that they would rate higher on the scale and have them give examples to justify that higher rating.
  • As a final question, ask them if they think Canada could and should do better.
  • With this as background indicate to them that the focus of the lesson will be on things that Canada could do to improve its efforts on climate change.
  • Indicate that, as an example of what is happening in other countries, they are being given an article that examines some initiatives in Norway.
  • Provide them with a copy of the article and allow them time to read it.
  • Once this has been done put the students in work groups and give them the following task

You have just been elected Prime Minister and you have campaigned on a platform of responsible environmental government in order to protect our planet for future generations while maintaining a healthy economy for current Canadians. You are about to make a nationally televised speech on the top three things you are about to do to address these environmental promises. What would those three initiatives be and why?

  • Allow the groups time to research their initiatives and prepare a report on them to the class.

Consolidation of Learning:

  • The groups will present their choices and respond to any questions from the class.
Success and Additional Learning

Success Criteria:

The students will be able to:

  • Identify some green initiatives that have been taken by oil-rich nations such as Norway
  • Identify things that Canada could do that would be both environmentally and economically responsible.

Confirming Activity:

  • Once all of the groups have given their reports conduct a class discussion designed to cull from all of the suggestions the top three choices of the class as a whole, complete with reasons why these would be their choices.