Canada’s Climate Change Challenge

The importance and impacts of Indigenous inclusion in Canada’s climate action efforts

Can Canada effectively combat climate change and achieve national greenhouse gas reduction targets without the direct participation and inclusion of our country’s Indigenous peoples?  In one word, No.

Map of existing clean energy projects that include Indigenous ownership or involvement.

Map of existing clean energy projects that include Indigenous ownership or involvement.

Indigenous rights across Canada, affirmed by the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, clearly establishes that the consent of Indigenous communities is essential to the development of renewable energy, power transmission, and Smart Grids infrastructure; which enable the growth and expansion of an Electrification Economy.

Yet, this is a good news story. Indigenous peoples are eager to be leaders of climate action.  The evidence?  The over 100 medium to large-scale clean energy projects (with capital costs of $50 million – $7 billion each) operating across Canada that have active Indigenous ownership or co-ownership with partners such as project development companies, utilities, and financial firms.

Moreover, the scale of Indigenous clean energy is poised to rise markedly with dozens of renewable energy projects ready for development in all regions of the country.  It is also exciting to observe that the spectrum of Indigenous clean energy opportunity is broadening and deepening with new projects and ventures in areas such as: energy efficient housing and facilities, electric cars, energy transmission, cleantech, and more.

Indigenous communities and organizations, will largely seize clean energy opportunities with partners on a commercial basis, through supportive policies, programs and power purchasing arrangements led by provinces and territories.  Several jurisdictions from New Brunswick to Ontario to Alberta to the Northwest Territories, and others, deserve kudos for leadership promoting Indigenous clean energy inclusion.  Many of Canada’s provinces and territories are ‘walking the talk’ of reconciliation through clean energy.

The Spectrum of Indigenous Clean Energy Opportunities developed by Lumos Clean Energy Advisors.

Indigenous clean energy projects are critical to Canada’s climate change plan which will work to stimulate large-scale reductions of GHG emissions.  However, optimizing the potential of Indigenous clean energy, as an integral part of Canada’s climate change plan, will require federal support mechanisms.  Three such mechanisms would be of particular value to catalyzing specific GHG mitigation opportunities, including the promotion of clean technology, innovation, and jobs for Indigenous peoples.

Together the following three mechanisms form a Trifecta of Indigenous Greenhouse Gas Reduction – Sustainable Infrastructure Promotion Funds. 

Northern & Remote Off-Grid Communities Diesel Reduction Fund

A 50% reduction of diesel used for heating and electricity in Canada’s 140 remote and northern Indigenous communities is attainable by 2022. Initiatives such as energy efficiency/conservation, renewable energy, local smart grids, transport electrification, transmission connection, housing/facility design, and community energy planning, have the potential to dramatically change the realities faced by these communities.  Lumos Energy projects that a fund with an allocation of $900 million – $1.7 billion over 10 years, could realize these opportunities and displace over 80 million liters of diesel fuel a year.  Targeted projects would include: remote communities grid electrification, hydro-for-diesel, solar-storage, wind-diesel hybrid projects; as well as community energy efficiency investment, and energy-efficient home design and construction.

Indigenous Clean Energy, Technology & Infrastructure Fund 

Potential exists to develop over 2,500 MW of Indigenous renewable energy, along with new clean technologies and associated infrastructure, by 2024. This would replace existing coal and natural gas generation, and/or offset fossil fuel reliant electricity growth.  Such projects are of particular relevance to several provinces including: New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Saskatchewan, and Alberta.  To capitalize on these opportunities, a funding provision of $400-500 million over 10 years is needed.  An Indigenous Clean Energy, Technology, and Infrastructure Fund, would kick-start Indigenous equity participation in clean energy projects, First Nations job creation, and support major enhancements of provincial/territorial clean energy baseload and peaking power capacity.

First Nations Clean Energy Community Capacity & Entrepreneurship Fund

To ensure that the potential economic and social impacts available through clean energy are maximized, First Nations, Métis, and Inuit community clean energy capacity must be augmented on a national-scale.  Increased capacity has huge potential for creating a pool of Indigenous clean energy entrepreneurs, spurring economic development in communities across the country.  A focused-fund of $50 million over 10 years would produce major human resources and clean energy project/infrastructure outcomes. This fund could support partnership oriented initiatives such as the 20/20 Catalysts Program, as well as: Aboriginal clean energy networks, clean energy literacy/community engagement, and national Indigenous clean energy collaboration


The social, economic, and climate action potential of the Trifecta described above is truly empowering.  The funds would reflect efforts to be community centered, leverage investments, electrify the economy, foster innovation, and most importantly, promote Indigenous inclusion.


Chris Henderson

President, Lumos Energy

Lead Mentor, 20/20 Catalysts Program