Climate Change

Climate change in the Northwest Territories

Climate change is one of the most serious environmental, economic and political challenges of our time and is an important issue to Northwest Territories (NWT) residents.

Despite its abundant natural resources, the NWT depends heavily on imported fossil fuels to meet its energy needs. This results in significant per-capita greenhouse gas emissions and high costs in communities.

The NWT is warming at a rate four to five times faster than global averages and this is causing significant changes in the natural environment. These changes include thawing and degradation of permafrost, shorter winters, longer and drier summers, shrinking sea ice and coastal erosion. This is impacting water quality and quantity, species, ecosystems, Aboriginal cultures, infrastructure, buildings, some economic activities and the health and well-being of residents.

Risks to economic, social and cultural values in NWT communities will intensify if climate change continues to affect the ability to maintain traditional pursuits and lifestyle.

Climate Change Strategic Framework

The NWT needs to transform its economy to reduce dependence on fossil fuels. Risks to economic, social and cultural values in NWT communities will intensify if climate change continues to affect the ability maintain traditional pursuits and lifestyle.

The Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT) has committed to develop a territorial climate change strategy that takes northern energy demands and the cost of living into account. The Strategy will reflect commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, explore carbon pricing systems and how to capture local alternatives such as hydro, biomass, wind and solar. This commitment is being fulfilled through the development of an NWT Climate Change Strategic Framework (the Framework).

Work to develop the Framework has begun, led by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, in collaboration with GNWT departments and organization. The Framework will improve  the ability to prepare for and withstand impacts from climate change, and strengthen and diversify the economy while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.


Thank you for completing the survey! We received over 210 responses.  

The survey is now closed.

If you are still interested in telling us what you think about the Climate Change Strategic Framework, email us at or call (867) 873-7654.


The backgrounder provides background information on climate change, the national and international situation and the key components in the development of the Framework. It is recommended reading for impacted stakeholders, those interested in climate change, and those planning to supply a submission or complete the survey.

Fact sheets

Public engagement

Public engagement with NWT residents, stakeholders and interested parties on the Climate Change Strategic Framework and the Energy Strategy took place in 2016/2017.

Engagement involved a series of regional invitational community workshops, public information sessions and written submissions.


Written Submissions

Workshop Summary Reports

Next Steps

  • A draft of the Climate Change Strategic Framework is expected to be released for public comment in Fall 2017.

Recent updates

More information

Current NWT Greenhouse Gas Strategy

The current NWT Greenhouse Gas Strategy provides details on the 2011-2015 Strategy. This section also includes emissions targets, emission reductions potentials and further resources.

Science and monitoring

Science and monitoring provides further details on the greenhouse gas tracking undertaken by the GNWT and Environment Canada. These tracking mechanisms allow the GNWT to report on our progress towards our emission targets. This section also details some of the interesting research projects and partnerships investigating climate change impacts throughout the NWT.

Impacts and adaptation

Impacts and adaptation offers insight into the work currently being undertaken to monitor and observe climate change impacts and adapt to these impacts. Climate change is having an observable effect across the NWT. This section illustrates the predicted changes in NWT ecosystems due to climate change, the impacts being observed in the NWT and the adaptation actions being undertaken by the GNWT.

Renewable energies and energy efficiency

Investments in renewable energies and energy efficiency are undertaken though the Department of Public Works and Services (PWS), with the help of Arctic Energy Alliance (AEA). The GNWT continues to maintain a working relationship with colleagues, providing expertise and resources in developing and promoting the use of renewable energy in the NWT. This section contains information on renewable potential throughout the NWT, as well as ways to reduce the amount of energy needed to heat and power our homes and businesses.


Partnerships highlights some of the partnerships the GNWT has developed in order to facilitate increased capacity in dealing with climate change and its impacts.