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Climate Change

Canada is warming twice as fast as the global rate, causing profound changes to our climate, health and biodiversity.

Lake Huron © Michael Hiemstra CC BY 2.0

Climate Crisis

We are in the throes of a climate crisis due to high concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere – mainly from human activities.

The science behind climate change is clear and the trend is alarming. Changing course is a matter of generating the political will. Rising temperatures are forging radically different landscapes across the province. Climate change is imperiling water, food, biodiversity and the natural systems that we rely on. Ontarians are experiencing the impacts daily.

Thawing permafrost, Herschel Island © GRID-Arendal CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Why It Matters

Every corner of the province is being profoundly altered by climate change – from increased frequency and intensity of forest fires in the northern boreal to erosion along the Great Lakes’ shorelines to flooding around the Thousand Islands.

The pervasive impacts include extreme weather, disease outbreaks, loss of biodiversity, diminished natural systems, health concerns and food insecurity.

Ottawa River © Ross Dunn CC BY-SA 2.0

“The climate emergency is the challenge of my lifetime. Thankfully, we know what is at stake and we know what to do. Nature-based solutions are within our reach, but the time for action is right now.”
– Caroline Schultz, Executive Director, Ontario Nature

Toronto skyline from Greenbelt © David Coulson

The Numbers

  • Globally, we’re losing species at  1,000 to 10,000 times the natural rate – about one to five species per year
  • Approximately 20 to 30% of plant and animal species will be at increasingly high risk of extinction of extinction if global temperatures rise by 2 to 3 degrees Celsius
  • 2010–2020 was the hottest decade in human history
  • On Lake Simcoe, the ice fishing season has shortened by a day each year since 1989
  • Between 1970 and 2013, ice cover declined on Lake Superior by 42%, Lake Ontario by 32%, Lake Erie by 25%, Lake Michigan by 21% and Lake Huron by 19%
Brook trout © Jon Nelson CC BY 2.0

What We Are Doing

Nature-based solutions to climate change are embedded in our work.

  • Protected Places play a critical role in climate adaptation. Through our Protected Places Campaign, we are advocating for the government to honour its commitment to meet our international targets. We also have a legacy of securing new protected areas, including through our Nature Reserves Program.
  • Wetlands enhance landscape resilience to climate change, store carbon and provide a refuge for wildlife. Through our Wetlands Campaign, we are advocating for wetland protection.
  • Climate change is one of the main drivers of the current mass biodiversity extinction. Through our Endangered Species Program, we are advocating for increased protection.
Lyal Island Nature Reserve © Smera Sukumar
  • Resilient northern forest habitats allow species to adapt and migrate in response to climate change. Through our Boreal Program, we protect natural areas, support forestry certification, and promote sustainable development to safeguard ecosystems and our long-term prosperity.
  • Conserving biodiversity and enhancing landscape resilience is needed to adapt to and mitigate climate change. Through our Greenway Program, we advocate for the protection, restoration and enhancement of natural cores and corridors.
  • As nature’s watchdog, Ontario Nature is there whenever and wherever nature needs us most. We are collaborating with other groups to advocate for nature-based solutions.
  • Ecological restoration must be part of nature-based solutions to climate change. Through our Nature Reserves Program, our Youth Council’s annual restoration events and other initiatives, we’re doing on the ground work to heal natural areas.
Don Valley Parkway, Toronto © Graeme Bunton CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

“Humanity is waging war on nature. This is senseless and suicidal. The consequences of our recklessness are already apparent in human suffering, towering economic losses and the accelerating erosion of life on Earth.”
– UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, February 2021

© joiseyshowaa CC BY-SA 2.0

What You Can Do

Addressing the climate crisis will require individual and collective action.

  • Advocate for bold climate action in your community and beyond – including with your elected officials.
  • Decrease your carbon footprint by using active transportation, eating more local food and less beef, turning down your thermostat, and more.
  • Volunteer for organizations working on the climate crisis like Ontario Nature.
  • Vote for political parties that make climate action commitments and have a good track record.
  • Make a gift to Ontario Nature to support nature-based solutions to the climate crisis.
  • Subscribe to our blog, and follow us on  Facebook, Instagram and  Twitter  to stay updated.
Nature Guardians Program volunteers, Cawthra Mulock Nature Reserve © Smera Sukumar