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Fact sheet

What are the impacts of climate change?

Published on 

The planet has already warmed up by approximately 1.2°C since the pre-industrial era, mainly due to human activity and fossil fuels. Without strengthened measures, UN climate experts predict that by 2100, it will have warmed by 3.2°C.

Why is the climate changing?

Reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) explain that the primary causes of climate change are related to human activities, especially greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Burning fossil fuels (such as oil, coal, and natural gas) for energy production, transportation, industry, and agriculture is the main caus of these emissions. GHGs like carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), and nitrous oxide (N2O) accumulate in the atmosphere, trapping the sun's heat and contributing to global warming.

In addition to GHG emissions, other factors contribute to climate change, including deforestation, which reduces the Earth's capacity to absorb CO2, intensive agricultural practices, the use of certain chemicals, and changes in land use.

"The IPCC reports could not be more clear. The most effective solutions to ensure a more secure and equitable future already exist and are within our reach. We must transform the way we produce, consume, how we get around, eat, and manage our land use. The choices that our elected officials make in the coming years will have long-term consequences on our communities and on the environment. Coordinated efforts are necessary because the impacts on our health, agriculture, and economy are increasingly being felt."

- Andréanne Brazeau, Climate Policy Analyst, Équiterre

Extreme weather events which will intensify:

Forest fires

Canada is experiencing record heat and drought - conditions which are conducive to wildfires. High temperature, strong winds and low rainfall are fuelling the flames.

Heat waves

More frequent and intense heat waves have major repercussions on public health: heatstroke, cardiovascular and respiratory problems, and sometimes even death.


High temperatures increase evaporation during periods of drought and facilitate the movement of larger masses of water during precipitation events.Heavy rainfall exceeds the soil's absorption capacity, leading to water erosion. Water runs off, washing away soil particles and reducing the fertility of farmland.

Impacts on human health

Public health and safety in Canada is being affected, with water quality and air quality expected to decline in the coming years (due in particular to the increase in forest fires).

On a global scale, the climate emergency is the major crisis of our time, forcing millions of people to flee their homes. Climate change exacerbates other displacement factors, such as growing poverty, food insecurity, water shortages and limited access to the natural resources on which communities depend for their survival.

We need ambitious climate policies

What can we do about climate change?

To avoid the most serious consequences of climate change, fossil fuel emissions must be reduced rapidly and significantly. Unfortunately, current government plans are not ambitious enough and would lead to far more dangerous, frequent and extreme consequences, disproportionately affecting marginalized communities. Bolder action is needed to protect our future and ensure climate justice.

Mitigation efforts must be stepped up immediately, while adaptation strategies must be developed to build resilience to the consequences of climate change that can no longer be avoided, and to remedy loss and damage. Financial flows must be redirected from fossil fuels to clean energy and climate solutions, and Northern countries must meet their climate finance commitments to support the energy transition and adaptation efforts in Southern countries.

Northern countries like Canada must commit to achieving carbon neutrality as close as possible to 2040. They must stop licensing or financing new oil and gas activities, and halt all expansion of existing oil and gas reserves.

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