Climate change in Yukon

  • How climate change impacts Yukon
  • Track Government of Yukon's action on climate change
  1. How climate change impacts Yukon

    What is climate change?

    Earth’s climate has always changed over time, but the scale of changes happening now has never been seen before.

    Greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide, trap heat in the atmosphere. Their concentration in Earth's atmosphere is on the rise and it affects our climate. This is largely the result of human activities like burning fossil fuels.

    Climate change has a greater and faster impact on the North than on other parts of the world. Yukon’s average temperature has increased by 2°C over the past 50 years and winter temperatures have increased by 4°C over the same time period. This increase is 2x the rate of southern Canada.

    How does climate change affect Yukon?

    Climate change impacts that Yukon faces include:

    • increased average temperatures;
    • changes in amounts of rain and snow;
    • more extreme weather events like lightning storms, strong winds, flooding and fires;
    • melting glaciers and sea ice;
    • thawing permafrost; and
    • changes to lake, river and water quality.

    These changes impact Yukoners by:

    • affecting health by limiting access to country foods;
    • affecting the traditional activities and culture of Yukon’s First Nations as wildlife patterns shift; and
    • causing damage to buildings, roads, power lines, water supplies and other critical infrastructure.

    What is the government doing about climate change?

    Around the world, governments are changing the way they address climate change. They are building resilient communities and low-carbon economies that sustain clean growth. 

    We intend Yukon to take part in this shift. 

    The Government of Yukon is developing a new strategy on climate change, energy and green economy. This strategy will enhance Yukon’s ability to prepare for, respond to, and thrive in a changing climate. 

    For more information about climate change in Yukon email or phone: 867-456-5565 or toll-free in Yukon: 1-800-661-0408, ext. 5565.

    Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change

    Yukon is part of the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change. The framework commits the Government of Yukon and the Government of Canada to collaborate in the following areas.

    • Advancing renewable energy and energy efficiency projects
    • Building resilient communities
    • Developing new research and pilot projects

    The Pan-Canadian Framework also lays out Canada’s plan to put a price on carbon across the country. Applying that plan will begin in 2019.

    Carbon pricing

    Carbon pricing is a cost-effective way for Canada to reduce emissions. It will foster innovation in renewable energy and efficiency, and help build a strong, low-carbon economy.

    The Government of Yukon is developing new territorial legislation that will govern the regulation and distribution of federal carbon pricing revenues to Yukoners, in accordance with our commitments agreed to under the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change. 

    This legislation has been developed in response to feedback received from Yukoners since 2017. Conversations with affected groups are ongoing and will ensure that our unique circumstances in the North continue to be fully articulated and addressed.

  2. Track Government of Yukon's action on climate change

    The Government of Yukon, First Nations and Inuvialuit, and municipalities have partnered to develop a new Climate Change, Energy and Green Economy Strategy that will be released at the end of 2019. Our goal is to enhance Yukon’s capacity to prepare for, respond to, and thrive in a rapidly changing climate.

    While we work on this new strategy, the Government of Yukon continues to track and make progress on commitments from the 2009, 2012 and 2015 Climate Change Action Plan and Progress Reports.

    Reducing greenhouse gas emissions

    Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are one of the pollutants driving climate change. Carbon dioxide (CO2) is the most well-known GHG. It accounts for the majority of human-caused emissions. CO2 lasts for decades to centuries in the earth’s atmosphere so lowering CO2 emissions now will help to reduce long-term negative impacts.

    What are Yukon’s GHG emissions?

    While Yukon’s emissions accounts for only 0.08% of Canada’s overall GHG emissions, our per-person emissions are comparable to the rest of the country. In 2016 Yukoners produced 16.4 tonnes of emissions per person. This is the 8th highest per person emissions rate in Canada.

    The most significant sources of GHG emissions across Yukon are:

    • transportation: 62% of total emissions, including road and air; and
    • heating buildings: 18% of total emissions.

    How is Yukon reducing GHG emissions?

    The Government of Yukon undertakes a number of programs, policies and actions to reduce GHG emission in Yukon. 

    Energy Solutions Centre

    The Energy Solutions Centre offers numerous incentives and programs to help Yukoners reduce their carbon footprint. 


    The Yukon Rideshare Program intends to reduce GHG emissions from personal transportation by matching potential carpool drivers with passengers. It is a partnership between the City of Whitehorse and the Government of Yukon.

    First Nation Solar Micro-generation partnership

    The Government of Yukon acquired funding from Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada to support a number of solar installations on Yukon First Nation buildings throughout the territory.

    Micro-generation Program

    This program provides the opportunity for individuals and small businesses to generate their own electricity from renewable energy sources and sell unused electricity back to the grid. Since 2014, Yukoners have added 166 solar systems totaling over 1.5 MW of capacity to our hydro grid and to 4 of our 5 diesel mini-grids.

    Innovative Renewable Energy Initiative

    The Innovative Renewable Energy Initiative is a $1.5 million fund to support and encourage community participation in commercial-scale electrical or heat generation from renewable sources. The funding is available for projects proposed by community-based governments, public-membership community organizations, or private-sector organizations. The funding will support projects using wind turbines, photovoltaic solar panels, gasification or run-of-river hydro. 

    Energy efficient government buildings

    We are committed to building new high energy-efficiency facilities. Past construction projects include the:

    • Tombstone Interpretive Centre;
    • Whitehorse Correctional Centre;
    • Emergency Response Centre; and
    • FH Collins High School

    Waste diversion

    We have created waste diversion programs across multiple Government of Yukon buildings, including:

    • the Main Administration Building;
    • the Department of Education administration building; and
    • 18/28 of Yukon’s schools.

    Adapting to climate change in Yukon

    Yukoners feel the impacts of climate change as we drive on bumpy highways and deal with cracks in our public infrastructure caused by permafrost thaw. Yukon plants and animals are becoming less abundant and moving into new areas. Climate change affects our health, safety, economy, culture and lifestyle.

    “Adaptation” refers to the efforts we must take to prepare for current and upcoming impacts from climate change so we can remain safe and healthy while continuing to flourish. Adapting is key to our approach to climate change. Adaptation efforts complement the actions taken by the government and others to reduce GHG emissions.

    How is Yukon adapting to climate change?

    The Government of Yukon received $1.987 million in funding through Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada’s Climate Change Preparedness in the North Program. The funding will support 14 climate change adaptation projects over 4 years (2017 to 2021). Projects cover a variety of topics, including:

    Dempster Highway permafrost vulnerability mapping

    Researchers are studying conditions underneath the Dempster Highway to create a map showing which areas are vulnerable to damage from permafrost.

    Predicting the effects of climate change on winter ticks

    This project will establish a baseline of winter tick distributions in the Yukon to better understand climate change’s effects on winter tick development. By doing this, we can create a model that supports management decisions about Yukon moose, caribou, deer and elk populations.

    Predicting forest fire risk across Yukon

    Researchers are developing maps and models of current and future chances of fire risk across Yukon. From this data, we can identify where fire risk is likely to increase, and what resulting disturbances to the landscape we can expect.

    Monitoring and planning for health impacts of extreme events

    Researchers are collecting data on the health impacts of past extreme weather and fire events. This data will improve emergency planning for these situations and allow us to develop tools to respond to the short and long-term health impacts.

    Government of Yukon climate risk assessment

    Researchers are identifying key climate change related risks for the Government of Yukon. Based on these findings, we will create and implement a climate risk framework and develop actions that reduce climate risk for our activities, programs and assets.


    Yukon is part of the Pan-territorial Adaptation Partnership, a collaboration between the three territories to address climate change adaptation in the North.

    Plans and studies

    In 2006, the Government of Yukon developed a Climate Change Strategy that led to 2009's Climate Change Action Plan. See the progress reports for 2012 and 2015, and the update for 2018.

    We have contributed to several major studies on climate change in Yukon, including:

    You can also find data on the effects of climate change through our State of the Environment Reports.