Governments today are increasingly looking to non-state and bottom up community actors to help achieve climate change mitigation targets. Canada is a resource rich state with one of the highest per capita greenhouse gas footprints in the world. It is also a state where issues of political will, geographic scale and incumbent industries contribute to a challenging context for broad community participation. Despite this, a long history of co-operative and municipal activity exists in the energy sector, exhibited in diverse ways across its provinces and territories. Provincial variation in energy sources and actors illustrates a far more nuanced picture than exists at the national level, providing a case rich with both promising and cautionary tales for the community energy sector. This article examines the emergence of community energy in the context of broader energy sector moves towards increasingly powerful trade agreements, privatization, and conflicts over Indigenous rights in Canada. It argues that significant potential exists to strengthen the role of local actors in Canadian energy governance, but that macro-level political and economic developments have also created significant challenges for widespread community energy transitions.
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