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NRTEE Slams Government's Kyoto Act Plan
According to Canada's National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy (NRTEE), the plan prepared by the federal government in response to its obligations under the Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act exaggerates benefits of three of its nine climate-change programs and fails to provide sufficient information to support the other six programs.
Further, the August 2007 plan (see section, 'Canadian Government Responds to Kyoto Act') will not result in sufficient greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reductions for Canada to meet its target for the 2008-2012 commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol.
The NRTEE was careful not to pass judgment on the advisability of any Canadian government initiatives, yet the report is highly critical of the government's methods and assumptions in projecting its programs' results. The report says the government is using misleading methods, and notes "systematic" exaggeration, "double accounting,", "important inconsistency" and "overestimated" reductions that result in false conclusions about effectiveness of its plan.
Authors of the NRTEE report, which included some of Canada's top business and environmental leaders, recommend the government pay closer attention to "transparency and clarity" when presenting greenhouse-gas reductions, and "consistency" in accounting for those reductions from department to department.
The Roundtable did, however, note the government plan would, over time, result in significant emissions reductions.
Under the Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act, the Roundtable was required to advise the government on the effectiveness of its climate-change plan within 30 days of its release.
View September 2007 National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy (NRTEE) report, Response of the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy to its Obligations Under the Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act
Visit Climate Action Network Canada
View September 22, 2007 Toronto Star article
View September 21, 2007 Canadian Press article in the Toronto Star
Sources: Canadian Press, Toronto Star, NRTEE, CANet
Canadian Government Responds to Kyoto Act
In August 2007 Canada's Environment Minister John Baird released the Government's response to the legal requirement under Bill C-288, The Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act, to "ensure that Canada meets its obligations under Article 3, paragraph 1, of the Kyoto Protocol" within two months from when the legislation comes into force (June 22, 2007).
A Climate Change Plan for the Purposes of the Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act 2007 was posted on the Environment Canada website on August 21, 2007.
View the Environment Canada document, A Climate Change Plan for the Purposes of the Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act 2007
Minister Baird's response has been characterized as "thumbing its nose" at the opposition's legislative attempts to force compliance with the Kyoto Protocol. Minister Baird's plan simply re-packages its April 2007 climate change plan, Turning the Corner, and does not outline a path for Canada to meet its greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets under the Kyoto Protocol.
View the August 21, 2007 Canadian Press article on CTV News
The plan repeats the argument that trying to meet Kyoto by 2012 would wreak economic disaster on the Canadian economy. This argument has been disputed by many experts and following the release of the Bill C-288 plan, a federal analysis questions the validity of Minister Baird's economic arguments against meeting Kyoto obligations.
A four-page briefing note on the impact of Canada's international climate-change obligations said nothing to support Mr. Baird's warnings that the law could lead to massive job losses, rising energy prices and a recession. The document was obtained through and Access to Information request.
View the August 22, 2007 Ottawa Citizen article
Climate Action Network (CAN) Canada, a nation-wide network comprised of over 60 national and regional environmental groups, said the federal government's climate change plan fails to offer a credible plan to meet Kyoto and makes an increase in emissions in Canada an certainty.
"The government's response to the Kyoto law is confused, unfocussed and illegal," said Steven Guilbeault, Greenpeace Canada. "While the urgency of dealing with climate change has never been clearer, the government has chosen to hide behind a package of inadequate old announcements. This is simply unacceptable."
View the August 22, 2007 Climate Action Network Canada press release
The Liberals, NDP and Bloc Quebecois pushed Bill C-288 through the House of Commons in June 2007 without the support of the governing Conservatives.
Sources: CTV News, Ottawa Citizen, Government of Canada
By Frederick Deligne
|The Canadian Senate voted to pass the Liberal private member's Bill C-288 Friday, June 22, 2007, which obligates the Canadian government to meet Kyoto Protocol greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets. Bill C-288 had previously passed in the House of Commons. For Canada, this target is a 6% cut in greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 levels by 2012.
Canada made its international commitment to meeting emissions reduction targets under Kyoto when it signed on and ratified the Kyoto Protocol.
When it came into force in February 2005, Kyoto became legally binding for countries that ratified it. The passage of Bill C-288 is another legal affirmation of Canada's commitment to reduce emissions and comply with Kyoto provisions.
Liberal MP Pablo Rodriguez originally introduced Bill C-288, The Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act, May 17, 2006. Its provisions require the government to prepare a Climate Change Plan to "ensure that Canada meets its obligations under Article 3, paragraph 1, of the Kyoto Protocol" within two months from when the legislation comes into force (June 22, 2007). It also obligates the government to bring in regulations to "ensure that Canada fully meets its obligations" under Kyoto.
The bill is controversial because:
Anonymous government officials quoted in the media said the government could claim the bill is unconstitutional, but then it would have to take the issue to court. That could take years unless the government took the rare step of requesting an immediate review by the Supreme Court. Another possibility is that the government could argue the law cannot be implemented. Government officials also speculated the federal government will simply publish a report, following the time frame set out by Bill C-288, which compiles all its previously announced environmental initiatives.
- Canada's Conservative government asserts that greenhouse gas emissions cuts required under Kyoto are unattainable
- Prime Minister Stephen Harper has vowed to ignore measures that would harm the economy, and federal Environment Minister John Baird steadfastly claims it is impossible to meet Kyoto targets without "crippl[ing] the economy"
- House Speaker Peter Milliken ruled the Bill doesn't require the government to spend money, though it states the required plan must include "spending or fiscal measures or incentives."
- Liberals MPs say the Kyoto targets are still achievable and that with the passage of Rodriguez' bill, Canada has to take action.
- Liberal Senators argue that Canada's minority government could find itself breaking the law if it does not comply with the new legislation. Liberal Senate Leader Celine Hervieux-Payette said, "They will comply. It's a Bill, it's an order from Parliament. They may not respect the (Kyoto) Accord but I hope they will respect the Bill." She also noted, "It would be a first in Canadian history that a government does not apply a bill duly passed by both chambers".
View June 22, 2007 CTV News article
View June 22, 2007 Agence France-Presse article on Raw Story
Download June 21, 2007 Winnipeg Free Press article (DOC)
View text of Bill C-288 - An Act to ensure Canada meets its global climate change obligations under the Kyoto Protocol - as passed by the House of Commons
View information on the history and status of Bill C-288
Sources: CTV News, Agence France-Presse, Canadian Press
Following extensive hearings by the all-party House of Commons committee, the Conservative government's fall 2006 Clean Air Act (Bill C-30) re-emerged with a new name and in a substantively revised form. The 'Clean Air and Climate Change Act' was referred back to Parliament at the end of March 2007.
The re-vamped Bill C-30 includes almost 100 amendments (most brought forward by opposition party members) and bears little resemblance to the bill first tabled by the Conservatives in October 2006. Among the key changes and measures included in Bill C-30:
The revised Bill C-30 contains most of the changes proposed jointly by environmental organizations during the hearings in January 2007.
- Kyoto accord-level targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 6% below 1990 levels by 2012
- Setting or adhering to world-leading pollution standards
- Hard targets for industry on cutting greenhouse gas emissions rather than ones based on the level of industrial output ('intensity-based targets') that would take effect in January 2008
- A $20 levy for every tonne of carbon emissions a company produces above its target
- Vehicle fuel consumption regulations that match international best practices
The Conservative government has not made it clear whether and how it will act to move the re-written Bill C-30 through the legislative process. The government itself referred the legislation to the House committee, resulting in MPs from all political parties spending countless hours of time and energy on the amendment process, as well as expenditures to hold hearings. However, the Conservatives are not under any procedural obligation to bring the legislation before the House of Commons for a vote (second reading).
An April 30, 2007 article quotes Government House Leader Peter Van Loan as saying that the government has "no intention" of passing Bill C-30, which means that the bill will die on the Order Paper.
View the March 29, 2007 amendments to Bill C-30
The new Canadian government released the centrepiece of its "made-in-Canada" environment agenda October 19, 2006.
The Clean Air Act:
As part of the announcement, the government indicated it will introduce regulations to reduce emissions from motorcycles, outboard engines, all-terrain vehicles and off-road diesel engines in the coming year.
- will transfer a number of substances previously defined as toxic under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act to a new category labeled "air pollutants." Critics say this is risky from a constitutional stance because air pollution is generally a provincial matter. The wording used in CEPA had been tested before the Supreme Court, while the new wording has not been tested.
- lacks short-term targets for cutting greenhouse emissions and smog-causing pollution
- will not regulate large polluters until at least 2010 and will undertake a three-phase consultation process. The previous government spent three years consulting on regulation of large emitters, which account for about half of Canada's GHG emissions.
- does not impose hard caps on greenhouse gas emissions until 2020 or 2025
- seeks to cut emissions by 45 to 65 per cent by 2050 - based on 2003 levels, NOT the Kyoto baseline of 1990 levels
- will set "intensity-based" emissions targets until 2050, which allow GHG emissions to increase.
All three opposition parties in the House of Commons said they would vote against the bill.
In November 2006, Prime Minister Stephen Harper agreed to an NDP demand to put the Clean Air Act before a House of Commons committee.
The bill will undergo the unusual step of being reviewed by an all-party committee before second reading, It is expected that opposition critics will overhaul the bill in the committee process.
Canada's environment commissioner Johanne Gelinas used an audit of the former government's failure to reduce emissions to recommend that Canada's current federal government act swiftly against the pending climate crisis.
The report, released September 28, 2006, said Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his government should not continue to use the lack of progress on Canada's Kyoto targets as an excuse to abandon the international pact. The Commissioner urged government to create a credible, realistic and clear plan with short- and long-term goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
View the 2006 Report of the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development
View the September 28, 2006 Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development press release
Source: Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development
Climate Change Web Pages Gone
On June 30, 2006, Canada's federal Conservative government quietly shut down the main public climate change website run by the Department of Natural Resources.
http://www.climatechange.gc.ca and http://climatechange.nrcan.gc.ca are no longer available; visitors are directed to the main sites for Environment Canada and Natural Resources Canada.
Department of Finance officials confirmed several environmental programs had funding cut as part of the May 2, 2006 federal budget.
Among the best known is the Energuide program, where homes renovated to save energy can qualify for a federal grant. A home retrofitted under the program cuts its energy use by an average of 30 per cent. Energuide had its budget slashed by $227 million over the next five years.
The similar Energuide program for low-income households had its entire budget of more than $550 million cut. Four other programs have lost most, or all, of their funding. They include everything from money to develop new kinds of renewable energy, to a program to help people switch to more efficient furnaces.
The cuts add up to just under $1 billion over the next five years.
In April 2006, leaked Cabinet documents revealed that Canada's Conservative government cut the 2006 budget for climate change programs by 40%. As a result, Environment Canada's budget was slashed by 80%.
Only $375-million was approved for climate spending, with most of the funds going to cover staff salaries until the government determines next steps. As a result, much of the funds required to implement programs has vanished.
Some of the cuts resulted from government's failure to renew multi-year funding programs established in 2000, which expired with the fiscal year on March 31st.
View the April 13, 2006 Natural Resources Canada backgrounder
The cuts included:
The global warming programs were eliminated despite the findings of a Treasury Board review of government spending, which found the vast majority of 166 such programs run by Ottawa were considered cost effective; only 22 programs were deemed ineffective. The review was initiated by the previous Liberal government and was completed fall 2005. The Treasury Board information was intended to be used to reallocate funding from programs that weren't working to those that were achieving better results.
- One Tonne Challenge
- Climate Change Community Challenge
- Climate Change Hub program
- 40 public information offices across the country
- Climate impacts and adaptation research network (C-CIARN)
- Several other scientific and climate change research programs
The leaked Cabinet documents also alluded to the possibility of Canada clawing back $260-million pledged to the United Nations to fund international climate-change programs.
The Conservatives' campaign promise of tax breaks for transit passes will cost up to $2-billion over five years, but will result in an insignificant cut in greenhouse-gas emissions.
Information leaked to the press in April 2006 indicated that senior officials in the Environment Ministry told the government its proposed tax credit for transit users will have virtually no impact on greenhouse-gas emissions and only a small effect on riders because the incentives are expected to spur only a small increase in the number of people willing to trade cars for buses and subways. Ministry officials say that, based on a 1997 Canadian study, as well as a U.S. Department of Labour survey in 2004, use can be expected to increase between 2% and 4%, meaning the effect on emissions will be negligible. In contrast, the Canadian Urban Transit Association estimated that the proposed tax break would increase transit use by up to 30 per cent by 2016.
The leaked information shows that five transit tax-incentive options are being considered, ranging from a 16-per-cent tax credit for all fares, at a projected cost of $2-billion over five years, to a credit for monthly pass holders only, at $1-billion, to the same credit for high-school students only, at a cost of $90-million.
Source: Globe and Mail
On April 7, 2006, Environment Minister Rona Ambrose publicly stated that Canada's federal government had abandoned its commitment to meet its greenhouse gas emission reduction targets under the Kyoto Protocol.
"My departmental officials and the department officials from Natural Resources have indicated that it is impossible - impossible for Canada to reach its Kyoto target," she said.
The international agreement requires Canada to cut its greenhouse gas emissions to six per cent below 1990 levels by 2012, but since 1990, emissions have gone up, with the latest figures showing an increase of almost 30 per cent.
Under Kyoto, countries that fail to meet their emissions targets by the end of the first commitment period (2012) must make up the difference plus a penalty of 30 per cent in the second commitment period.
|As part of Canada's climate change plan (2002), Moving Forward on Climate Change: A Plan for Honouring Our Kyoto Commitment, in summer 2005 the federal Government announced its intention to regulate Large Final Emitter (LFE) companies under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act 1999 (CEPA 1999).
Large Final Emitters (LFEs) are companies that produce goods through a process that results in significant greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. These emissions-intensive sectors include primary energy production, electricity production, and selected areas of mining and manufacturing production.
Canada's Climate Change Plan (2002) defines large final emitter sectors using the following two criteria:
The purpose of the LFE system is to secure emission reductions from Canada's large emitters through a system that is market-based and in line with Government of Canada policy.
- annual average emissions of 8 kt carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) per establishment or more; and
- annual average emissions of 20 kg CO2e per $1000 gross production or more
The process initiated in summer 2005 involved several steps and a series of consultations. In November 2005, six GHGs were added to Schedule 1 of CEPA 1999. There are no compliance or enforcement requirements associated with the addition of the GHGs to Schedule 1 itself; this is an enabling step that sets the stage for the development of regulations.
Also in November 2005, the government released a draft for discussion purposes of the proposed regulations common to all sectors that will govern GHG emission reductions from large industrial facilities under CEPA 1999. With the January 2006 election and change in Canada's federal government, no further action on cross-cutting regulations with respect to greenhouse gases has been taken (as of September 2006).
|Chronology of the GHG Regulation Under CEPA 1999
July 15, 2005 - Notice of Intent to Regulate Greenhouse Gas Emissions by Large Final Emitters (LFEs) published in the Canada Gazette, Part I. The Notice outlines how emission-reduction targets would be set, the mechanisms through which LFEs could meet their targets and the preferred regulatory option for implementing the system, under CEPA 1999.
A 60-day public comment period followed. A response to the submissions received was published November 26, 2005. A summary of public comments was also published December 2, 2005.
September 3, 2005 - Draft Order-in-Council for the addition of six greenhouse gases to Schedule 1 of the CEPA published in the Canada Gazette Part 1 (PDF)
November 15, 2005 - Discussion draft of cross-cutting provisions of proposed regulations that will govern GHG emission reductions from large industrial facilities under CEPA 1999 (comment period closed January 12, 2006)
The proposed cross-cutting provisions set out elements of the proposed regulations common to all sectors, while the sector-specific regulations will set individual emission targets for the various sectors, as well as specific reporting requirements. Following the public comment, the proposed cross-cutting elements of the regulations are to be published in the Canada Gazette Part I, in early 2006. Also in 2006, a series of sector-specific GHG emission target regulations are to be published for public comment.
November 22, 2005 - announcement of the final Order-in-Council for the addition of six greenhouse gases (GHG) to Schedule 1 of CEPA 1999
November 30, 2005 - Final Order-in-Council for the addition of six GHGs to Schedule 1 of CEPA 1999 published in the Canada Gazette Part II (PDF)
Updated Schedule 1 of CEPA 1999
July 15, 2006 - Notice with respect to reporting of greenhouse gases (GHGs) for 2006
In July 2006, the federal government issued notice to facilities emitting GHG as to emissions reporting requirements for 2006.
In March 2004, the Government of Canada announced its One-Tonne Challenge (OTC) program. The program will invest $45 million over three years in climate change-related communications and challenges individual Canadians to reduce their GHG emissions by one tonne (approximately 20%).
Visit the Canadian Government One-Tonne Challenge web site
As of April 2006, funding for the One Tonne Challenge program was 'not renewed' and the program terminated. The link above no longer works; the website has been taken down.
On February 16, 2005, as the Kyoto Protocol took effect, then Prime Minister Paul Martin requested that the NRTEE consider the energy and climate change issues that Canada faces and to develop long-term strategies for a post 2012 world. The NRTEE was asked to provide its perspective on two aspects in particular:
In October of 2005, the NRTEE responded with an initial report to the Prime Minister that included recommendations in three key areas:
- Defining Canada's national interest and how it can best be advanced in a carbon-constrained world economy; and
- Examining potential environmental and economic risks and opportunities.
View the October 2005 report NRTEE Advice to the Prime Minister in Advance of COP 11
- Canadian Perspectives on Dangerous Levels of Climate Change
- Engaging the United States and Key Developing Countries
- Improving the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM)
Download the summary report NRTEE Advice to the Prime Minister in Advance of COP 11 (PDF)
Download the full report NRTEE Advice to the Prime Minister in Advance of COP 11 (PDF)
Prime Minister Paul Martin also asked the NRTEE to provide the government with further advice to be delivered in April 2006 regarding the definition of Canada's national interest, how it can best be advanced in a carbon-constrained world economy and the potential economic opportunities. The NRTEE has promised to deliver:
Despite the change in government, the NRTEE released its report, Advice on a Long Term Strategy on Energy and Climate Change for Canada on June 21, 2006. By identifying and modelling 31 greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction wedges that correspond to existing technologies or strategies, the advisory note presents a scenario for reducing GHG emissions by 60 percent by the year 2050.
- A strategy for integrating climate change into Canada's foreign policy, aid, and trade objectives.
- Recommendations for promoting the export of Canadian environmental technologies, using the credit and emissions trading mechanisms in the Kyoto Protocol.
- A set of recommendations on how to promote consistency between Canadian carbon markets and existing or emerging international markets, with a view to ensuring Canadian access to those markets.
- Advice on a long-term strategy on energy and climate change.
View the Summary of Key Findings
Download the full NRTEE report (PDF)
In fall 2006, the NRTEE travelled to nine Canadian cities to promote awareness of and gather feedback on its June 2006 report, Advice on a Long-term Strategy on Energy and Climate Change for Canada.
Invited stakeholders from three levels of government, business, trade and professional associations, industry, NGOs and academia participated in day-long sessions, which provided an opportunity for participants to comment and exchange ideas on achieving long-term GHG emission reductions.
Stakeholders shared their views on the three strategic priorities identified in the NRTEE's advisory note - energy efficiency, energy production (carbon capture and storage) and electricity production - NRTEE suggested policy signals required to reduce GHG emissions in each of these areas.
Participants called for future work in this area to:
View the January 2007 NRTEE On-line Consultation Report
- use the best available science to inform long-term targets;
- develop additional scenarios and analyses, including non-energy-related emissions;
- conduct a cost-benefit analysis of the scenarios; and
- analyze impact of additional wedges, such as biosequestration, thermal energy, air transportation and behavioural changes.
View the February 21, 2007 NRTEE Final Report, Outreach on NRTEE Advice for a Long-term Strategy on Energy and Climate Change in Canada
View the NRTEE's March 2007 Briefing Note to Canada's Minister of the Environment
The National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy (NRTEE) also initiated a National Forum on Climate Change in 1998 in order to help Canadians better understand the issue of climate change and its implications. The National Forum presented a Declaration to the Prime Minister, all levels of government, and Canadians as a whole in June 1998.
Visit the National Forum on Climate Change site
The NRTEE also undertook to broaden awareness and understanding of the concept of greenhouse gas emissions trading.
Visit the National Forum on Domestic Emissions Trading site
Canada's 2004 Federal Budget, released March 23, 2004, contained some commitments regarding action on climate change. Over the next two years, the federal government has allocated an additional $200 million dollars to Sustainable Development Technology Canada - an arm's length funding agency that supports the development and commercialization of new technologies that address climate change and air quality issues.
Visit the Federal Budget 2004 web site
View the Federal Budget 2004 page on Environmental Technology
In August 2003, the Government of Canada announced an investment of $1 billion towards the implementation of the Climate Change Plan for Canada.
The federal Climate Change Action Fund (CCAF) was established in 1998 to assist Canada meet its Kyoto commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. A report entitled Responding to the Challenge: The Climate Change Action Fund (CCAF) 1998-2001, provides a summary of investments for the period 1998-2001. An annual report is also available for 2001-2002 (Building on Success - Climate Change Action Fund (CCAF) 2001-02 Annual Report).
Visit Climate Change Action Fund Website
The Canadian Council for Ministers of the Environment (CCME) established the Climate Change Indicators Initiative to provide Canadians with climate change information.
Download the November 6-7 2000, CCME Climate Change Indicators Workshop report (PDF)
The CCME is also examining the Kyoto Protocol through a discussion process known as Canada's National Climate Change Process. Governments - with the guidance of industry, environmental groups and others - built a National Implementation Strategy on Climate Change, and agreed to the First National Climate Change Business Plan. It contains over 300 federal/provincial and territorial government actions and measures to address climate change.
In October 2000, all provincial and territorial governments in Canada, except Ontario, approved the National Implementation Strategy on Climate Change and the First National Business Plan.
The final report, released in November 2003, Climate, Nature People: Indicators of Canada's Changing Climate describes changes to Canada's climate during the 20th century and reviews trends and implications for twelve climate change indicators. Temperature, precipitation, and other trends identified in the report suggest that climate in many regions of Canada are changing. Individuals, communities, businesses and ecosystems will all be affected, although impacts will vary across the country.
Download the Climate, Nature People: Indicators of Canada's Changing Climate (PDF)
At an April 1998 meeting, federal, provincial and territorial Joint Ministers of Energy and Environment approved a process to engage governments and stakeholders in examining the impacts, costs and benefits of addressing climate change.
The federal Climate Change Secretariat was established in 1998 to assist in the development and delivery of the National Implementation Strategy. Three primary objectives are:
- serving as a focal point for developing the federal government's domestic policy and programming on climate change, and broad communications strategy development and programming on climate change;
- coordinating, in cooperation with provincial officials, the development of a National Implementation Strategy, which will set out a program for enabling Canada to meet the greenhouse gas emission reduction targets established in the Kyoto Protocol; and
- managing the Climate Change Action Fund (CCAF)