New Federal Greenhouse Gas Regulatory Initiative
Posted in Mining

On April 26, 2007, the Honourable John Baird, Minister of the Environment, announced the federal government’s climate change plan entitled “Turning the Corner: An Action Plan to Reduce Greenhouse Gases and Air Pollution”.  As set out in the plan, the federal government has committed to reducing Canada’s total emissions of greenhouse gases, relative to 2006 levels, by 20% by 2020 and by 60% to 70% by 2050.

Under the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, Canada committed to a 6% cut in greenhouse emissions from 1990 levels by 2012. Minister Baird indicated that despite the mandatory reduction targets set out in the Turning the Corner plan, Canada will not meet its Kyoto deadline. To the consternation of environmentalists, the current approach focuses on intensity-based reductions, rather than absolute reductions of greenhouse gas emissions.

In addition to measures related to greenhouse gas emissions, the plan also addresses air pollutants generally. For air pollutants, the framework anticipates fixed emission caps that will enter into force between 2012 and 2015. Other components of the plan include the development of a mandatory fuel efficiency standard for motor vehicles and phasing-out of the use of incandescent light bulbs by 2012.

Existing facilities will be required to comply with emission-intensity greenhouse gas reduction targets for each sector that will come into force in 2010, based on an improvement of 6% each year from 2007 to 2010 (resulting in an enforceable reduction of 18% from 2006 industrial emission-intensity levels by 2010).  From 2011 onwards, existing facilities will be required to comply with a 2% continuous emission-intensity annual improvement.  New facilities (defined as those whose first year of operation is 2004 or later) will have a three-year grace period in order to allow the facilities to reach full production and to establish their initial emissions levels. Thereafter, they will be subject to 2% annual emission-intensity reduction targets through 2020.

Under the plan, firms will have several options to meet their greenhouse gas emission-intensity reduction targets, including: reducing emissions through abatement actions; contributions to a technology fund, designed to act as a means of promoting the development, deployment, and diffusion of technologies that reduce emissions of greenhouse gases across industry; participation in emissions trading; and use of a one-time recognition of early action for firms that took verifiable action between 1992 and 2006 to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions (credits for early action will represent a maximum reduction of 15 megatonnes of carbon dioxide across industry and precise eligibility criteria have not yet been developed).

The federal government indicates that the regulatory framework for air pollutants, including targets, compliance mechanisms and timeframe for the entry into force of the regulations, will be finalized by fall 2007. Publication of sector-specific and greenhouse gases regulations in the Canada Gazette, Part I, is expected in the spring of 2008. These regulations will be revised to incorporate air pollutant provisions at a later date (following normal regulatory procedures).

The primary federal statute that will provide authority for the new regulations will be the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA). Consultations are currently underway between the federal government and provinces and territories, industry sectors and other stakeholders to discuss key elements of the regulations. Helpfully, provisions in CEPA provide for harmonization of federal and provincial regulations.

On March 3, 2007, the federal government published a notice in the Canada Gazette, Part 1 which details the requirement that facilities who exceed the 100kt CO 2 equivalent GHG emission threshold must report their 2007 GHG emissions on or before June 1, 2008. As per the Canada Gazette notice of July 15, 2006, data for the 2006 calendar year is due no later than June 1, 2007.


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Lawson Lundell's Environmental, Indigenous and Natural Resources Blog focuses on environmental, indigenous and natural resources law, as well as related litigation. Included are summaries of significant cases from Canadian appellate courts, changes in the legal framework governing resource development including energy and climate change policy, and key decisions from the more influential regulatory bodies in Canada.

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