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Regulation of air pollution in Canada

Petition: No. 55

Issue(s): Air quality, climate change, human health/environmental health, international cooperation, and transport

Petitioner(s): Greenpeace Canada and the Toronto Environmental Alliance (TEA) (represented by the Sierra Legal Defence Fund)

Date Received: 22 August 2002

Status: Completed

Summary: This petition concerns federal control of air pollution and the creation of legally binding air quality standards. The petitioners allege that the federal government has failed to provide adequate regulations to control air pollution and is therefore violating basic human rights related to life, health and security of person. The petition contains many suggestions for improving air quality in Canada, including the following: establishing binding national ambient air quality standards; using the Canadian Environmental Protection Act to designate more air pollutants as toxic substances; adopting stricter vehicle emission standards; immediately reducing the sulphur content in gasoline; and increasing funding for public transportation planning.

Federal Departments Responsible for Reply: Environment Canada, Finance Canada—Department of, Health Canada, Industry Canada, Natural Resources Canada, Transport Canada

Petition

August 21, 2002

Sheila Fraser
Auditor General of Canada
Office of the Auditor General of Canada and the
Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development
240 Sparks Street
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0G6 Canada

Dear Mrs. Fraser:

Re: Regulation of Air Pollution in Canada

The attached submission is made on behalf of our clients, Greenpeace and the Toronto Environmental Alliance (TEA), and requests a review of the Government of Canada's policies, laws, and regulations concerning air pollution and air quality.

In particular, the petition alleges that the Government's failure to adequately regulate air pollution and provide for legally binding air quality standards in Canada is violating citizens' basic human rights, including the rights to life, health, and security of the person.

If you require any further information, or would like to meet or discuss this matter, please do not hesitate to contact Lynda Collins or Stella Bastidas.

Yours very truly,

[Original signed by Lynda Collins and Stella Bastidas, Staff Lawyers]

Lynda Collins
Staff Lawyer

 

Stella Bastidas
Staff Lawyer

[Sierra Legal Defence Fund
30 St. Patrick Street,
Suite 900
Toronto, ON
Canada M5T 3A3]


Petition under the Auditor General Act,
R.S.C. 1990, c. A-17

Prepared by:

Sierra Legal Defence Fund

On behalf of:

Greenpeace Canada, Toronto Environmental Alliance

Date:

August 21, 2002

PETITION UNDER THE AUDITOR GENERAL ACT

TO:

Hon. Sheila Fraser
Auditor General of Canada

Office of the Auditor General of Canada and the Commissioner of the
Environment and Sustainable Development
240 Sparks Street
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0G6 Canada

AND TO:

Hon. David Anderson
Minister of the Environment

28th Floor
10 Wellington Street
Hull, Quebec
K1A 0H3

AND TO:

Hon. Anne McLellan
Minister of Health

21st Floor, Jeanne-Mance Building
Tunney's Pasture
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0K9

AND TO:

Hon. John Manley
Minister of Finance

3rd Floor 14 Metcalfe Street
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0A3

AND TO:

Hon. David M. Collenette
Minister of Transport

Tower C, Place de Ville
330 Sparks Street, 29th Floor,
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0N5

PETITION TO THE AUDITOR GENERAL

1.0 Introduction

This is a petition under the Auditor General Act for a review of the Government of Canada's policies, laws, and regulations concerning air pollution and air quality. In particular, this petition alleges that the Government's failure to adequately regulate air pollution and provide for legally binding air quality standards in Canada is violating citizens' basic human rights, including the rights to life, health, and security of the person. The right to life in particular carries with it a positive obligation on the part of the Government of Canada to do its utmost to protect life within its borders by planning and regulating for clean air across the country. The petitioners submit that the Government of Canada has failed and is failing to do so, and provide concrete recommendations for improving Canada's performance.

For the purposes of this submission, Canada's performance with respect to air quality and air pollution will be measured against criteria laid out in the Auditor General Act. Section 21.1 of that Act provides as follows:

21.1 The purpose of the Commissioner is to provide sustainable development monitoring and reporting on the progress of category I departments towards sustainable development, which is a continually evolving concept based on the integration of social, economic and environmental concerns, and which may be achieved by, among other things,

  1. the integration of the environment and the economy;

  2. protecting the health of Canadians;

  3. protecting ecosystems;

  4. meeting international obligations;

  5. promoting equity;

  6. an integrated approach to planning and making decisions that takes into account the environmental and natural resource costs of different economic options and the economic costs of different environmental and natural resource options;

  7. preventing pollution; and

  8. respect for nature and the needs of future generations. 1995, c. 43, s. 5.

2.0 Measuring the sustainability of Canada's air policy

2.1 The integration of environment and economy

Canada's economic policies continue to provide support for industries and technologies that result in serious harm to air quality, human health and the environment. As with other forms of pollution, the real costs of air-polluting industries and technologies in Canada continue to be borne by the public at large through damage to the environment and public health. As an example, the Ontario Medical Association has estimated that air pollution costs that province more than $1 billion a year in hospital admissions, emergency room visits, and absenteeism.1 In Ontario and elsewhere, these costs are "externalized" by the industries responsible for them. As a result, Canadians as a group are subsidizing polluting industries at the expense of public health and the environment.

International experience reveals that appropriate economic instruments can achieve significant reductions in air pollution. In Sweden for example, the combination of strict regulations with full cost pricing of environmental goods through the removal of subsidies and implementation of environmental taxes has produced a more efficient and environmentally conscious society.2 Comparisons of Canada to Sweden show that despite very similar economies, climates and standards of living, Sweden produces far smaller volumes of the major air pollutants NOx and SO2 per capita than Canada. Canadians produce 88.9 kg/person of SO2 for Sweden's 10.3 kg/person and 67.1 kg/person of NOx for Sweden's 38.1 kg/person. Perhaps even more telling is the fact that since 1980 Canada has only been able to decrease its NOx and SO2 emissions by 1.6 percent and 15.3 percent, respectively, while Sweden has managed to decrease its emissions of these pollutants by 24.8 percent and 80 percent over the same time period.3

2.2 Protecting the Health of Canadians

Epidemiological data confirms that Canada's overall strategy for combating air pollution in the country is failing. Conservative estimates place the total number of excess deaths caused by air pollution in Canada at 5000 per year.4 Health Canada notes that "[a]ir pollution exacerbates the condition of people with respiratory and cardiovascular diseases and causes measurable increases in the rates of hospitalization and death from these diseases."5 In 1996-97 15 percent and 9 percent, respectively, of all hospital admissions in Canada resulted from cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, and 37 percent and 9 percent of deaths were related to cardiovascular and respiratory diseases respectively.6

With respect to Ontario, a province with a particularly severe air pollution problem, the Ontario Medical Association has stated the following:

We are all breathing poisons in Ontario's air. We are exposed to smog-a chemical soup containing ground level ozone and particulates. Poisons such as ozone and particulates have known health effects which include coughing, wheezing, chest tightness, aggravation of asthma attacks, increased severity of bronchitis and emphysema, decreased lung function, indirect damage to the immune system, and death. Our most vulnerable citizens, the children and the elderly, are also the most sensitive to these poisons.

The Ontario Medical Association recently estimated that approximately 1,900 premature deaths were expected to occur in Ontario in the year 2000 from the effects of air pollution. Annually, about 9,800 people are admitted to the hospital and 13,000 people make emergency room visits due to the effects of air pollution in Ontario (OMA, 2000). As our population increases and ages, the number of people affected by air pollution is also expected to increase.7

The Toronto Public Health Department has estimated that 1,000 early deaths and 5,500 hospital admissions are linked to air pollution levels in that city.8

Although Ontario's air pollution problem is one of the best studied in Canada, the data clearly demonstrates that unsafe levels of air pollution exist in cities and rural areas across the country. For example:

  • Data from 16 Canadian cities showed that hospitalization for respiratory problems was correlated to ozone, PM and CO levels.9

  • Elevated levels of fine particulate matter are associated with an increase in deaths due to lung cancer. The increased risk of mortality is roughly comparable to second hand smoke or obesity.10

  • A study in Montreal from 1984 to 1993 confirmed that there is a linear association between ambient air particles and mortality. Ambient concentrations in Montreal were sufficient to cause significant increases in illness and death. Deaths from respiratory problems increased 9.03 percent for predicted PM2.5, 4.64 percent for sulfates, and 6.90 percent for COH at air pollution levels noted.11 The data revealed a positive correlation between levels of air pollution and emergency room visits and hospital admissions in Montreal.12

  • A positive linear association between ozone asthma emergency dept. visits was found in St. John, NB (May to Sept, 1984-92). Visits were 33 percent higher when the daily max 1-hr [O3 ] exceeded 75ppb.13

  • The South Fraser Health Region in British Columbia states that air pollution is an important public health issue and is linked to illness and death in the lower mainland. The report cites conservative mortality figures between 15 and 150 deaths per year attributable to air pollution. This translates to 0.11 percent to 1.16 percent of all deaths in the region. The report notes that although air pollution levels are relatively low in the region, in comparison to other centres with similar populations, the mortality rates from air pollution are similar to those associated with motor vehicle accidents, suicides and HIV in the area.14

  • The results of a long-term, health effects study has shown that children living in high ozone communities who actively participate in several sports, are more likely to develop asthma than children not participating in sports. Also children living in communities with higher concentrations of NO2, PM, and acid vapour have lungs that develop and grow more slowly and are less able to move air through them. This decreased lung development may have permanent adverse effects in adulthood.15

2.3 Protecting Ecosystems

Acid gas emissions, sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxides, remain a serious issue in Canada despite significant reductions in the past decade. Canada emitted almost 2,500 kilotonnes of SO2 and 2,200 kilotonnes of NOx, in 1999. Approximately half of these emissions were attributable to Alberta and Ontario, with Ontario's S02 emissions expected to rise significantly by 2005.16

Environment Canada has stated that without further reductions of S02 and NOx beyond those set out in the 1991 Canada-U.S. Air Quality Agreement many areas of southeastern Canada will continue to receive harmful amounts of acid rain.17

The International Joint Commission on the Air Quality Agreement Progress Report (Canada-U.S) predicted that even with all of the current control mechanisms in place, six to fifteen percent of fish species will continue to be lost due to acidification of lakes. In some areas of Canada a 75 percent further reduction may be required in order avoid serious ecological damage.18

In addition to acidifying air emissions, air polluters in Canada also emit a number of "air toxics" which are persistent, bioaccumulative, and dangerous to human health. The Ontario Ministry of the Environment points out that atmospheric emissions, mainly from coal combustion, are "the major source of mercury in Ontario's lakes, soil and vegetation."19

Air pollution also damages terrestrial ecosystems in Canada. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada notes, as one example of the effects of air pollution on agriculture, that the quality and yield of crops grown near areas of high population density are damaged by ground-level ozone. This is especially important since many farms in these areas tend to grow high-value crops.20

2.4 Meeting International Obligations

The most pertinent international agreement to date is the Agreement Between the Government of Canada and the Government of the United States of America on Air Quality. This original agreement was signed in 1991 and later amended in 2000. The 2000 amendment, or "Ozone Annex," placed strict caps on nitrogen oxides in order to drastically reduce ground level ozone within a defined area of Canada and the US.21 In Canada this encompasses most of Ontario and a significant portion of Quebec. The largest sources of NOx in Ontario are in the transportation and electricity sector. The Ontario government has recently enacted legislation that caps NOx emissions from the electricity sector to 24.6 kt/yr by 2008 for the area designated under this agreement. 22 While this is below the cap set in the agreement of 39kt/yr there is a possibility for exceedences to still occur since facilities can opt to buy additional NOx "pollution credits" to continue polluting above the capped amount. 23 This is the main source of criticism of Ontario's "cap, credit and trade" scheme for controlling NOx emissions from the electricity sector. In a formal comment to the Ontario Ministry of the Environment on its emissions trading program the federal government points out that:

While emission reduction credit trading can certainly be a useful tool within an air abatement program, it is not a tool that could be used for compliance with the N02 cap on the electricity sector agreed to in the Ozone Annex. With regard to encouraging emission reductions in uncapped sectors in Ontario, it is essential that the baseline requirements and other eligibility criteria lead to credits that represent real and verified emission reductions and that the use of these credits over time ... are strictly managed. 24

It should also be noted that as global warming increases the opportunity for secondary reactions such as those that produce ground-level ozone will further increase, exacerbating the current air pollution problems. Canada's ratification and institution of the mechanisms contained in the Kyoto Protocol is a key factor in helping to combat these health effects. Canada has yet to ratify the Kyoto Protocol.

Canada's inadequate regulation is also in violation of the "precautionary principle" of international law, which requires states to take a precautionary approach to environmental problems in the presence of scientific uncertainty.25 While the data clearly demonstrates that air pollution not only causes significant health and environmental harm, but also a considerable number of deaths, the full impact of air pollution, particularly air toxics (including "persistent organic pollutants") has yet to be understood. In light of the potential for even more severe harm than that which has already been documented, the government of Canada has an international legal obligation to proceed in a proactive and assertive programme designed to effectively achieve safe air.

Finally, as noted at the outset, the Petitioners submit that Canada's inadequate regulation of air pollution constitutes a violation of citizens' basic human rights including the rights to health, security of the person, and life. The epidemiological data that has been acknowledged and accepted by the Government of Canada demonstrates that Canadians are losing their lives because of air pollution in this country. In light of the demonstrated viability of more effective approaches to air pollution than those currently being pursued by the Canadian Government, the Petitioners submit that Canada is violating this most core human right:

The right to life represents the most basic human rights doctrine, the essential and non-derogable prerequisite to the enjoyment of all other rights. Environmental problems that endanger life-directly or indirectly-implicate this core right. As stated by human rights scholar B.G. Ramcharan, "Threats to the environment or serious environmental hazards may threaten the lives of large groups of people directly; the connection between the right to life and the environment is an obvious one."26 [references omitted]

In addition to the unjustified loss of life, air pollution in Canada results in increased illness and disability. Thus once again, the failure of the Canadian government to do everything it can to prevent these impacts violates citizen's rights to health and security of the person.

2.5 Promoting Equity

The inadequate regulation of air pollution has a disproportionate impact on the most vulnerable segments of Canadian society-children, the elderly, and people with respiratory disabilities.

The Ontario Medical Association notes that:

Children represent the largest subgroup sensitive to adverse effects of air pollution due to: 1) differences in pulmonary anatomy and physiology (e.g., because of breathing patterns, small children are likely to inhale and retain greater quantities of particles per unit body weight than adults); 2) increased susceptibility to respiratory infections; and, 3) developmental susceptibility.

Children are most at risk from exposure to ozone because they are active outside during the summertime when ozone levels are at their highest.27

The elderly are also especially sensitive to air pollution.28 As the elderly population increases our population will become more prone to the health effects of air pollution.

Finally, people of any age who have respiratory or cardiovascular problems are at an increased risk of injury or death resulting from air pollution. As noted above, Health Canada acknowledges that air pollution exacerbates respiratory and cardiac illnesses and causes measurable increases in hospitalizations for these conditions.29

Promoting equity means setting and enforcing environmental standards that protect the health of Canadian children, elders, and people with disabilities. At present, Canada is failing to achieve this objective.

2.6 Appropriate Planning

Ultimately, achieving clean air in Canada will require federal leadership in transitioning Canadian society towards a more sustainable model. The problem is multifaceted enough that it requires broad-based planning initiatives across departments in order to achieve a meaningful improvement in the quality of our air. To date, the Ministry of Environment has borne a disproportionate share of responsibility for addressing this problem. While that Ministry has made significant efforts in this regard, it will require the participation of other ministries and Cabinet in order to make meaningful gains. Since none of the permitting functions that automatically trigger the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act involve air issues, there is a need to incorporate advance consideration of air quality into planning outside the CEAA process.

In particular, planning and policy development in the following areas should take account of air quality considerations:

  • Transportation policy
  • Energy policy
  • Tax Policy
  • Fisheries
  • Health care
  • Research and development
  • Transfer funding to the provinces

Some of these areas may be surprising, but air pollution in fact has a significant impact on all of them. For example, as noted above, the major source of mercury pollution in the Great Lakes is air pollution, and mercury is the major cause of fisheries advisories in that region. Similarly, the acidification of fish-bearing lakes is largely caused by acid gas emissions. The Department of Fisheries and Oceans has up until now failed to appreciate the connection between fisheries and air pollution.

Similarly, given the very significant health impacts of existing air pollution, improving air quality in Canada should be viewed as an important preventative health strategy. Much like the campaigns aimed at reducing smoking or encouraging exercise and other positive lifestyle changes, Health Canada should consider public education campaigns geared at encouraging choices that reduce the burden on our air.

2.7 Pollution Prevention

Many of the considerations already discussed bear on the need to prevent air pollution, rather than merely controlling existing emissions. Once again, to achieve progress in pollution prevention, Canada needs to actively encourage a shift away from inherently polluting industries, such as oil and gas, in favour of a more sustainable economy and society. This needs to be a multifaceted, multisectoral approach in which government, industry and individuals work together to achieve an environmentally sustainable economy. Leadership for this initiative needs to come from the Government of Canada.

2.8 Respecting Nature and the Needs of Future Generations

In addition to the very significant impact of air pollution on human health in Canada, as demonstrated above, the contamination of our air is also affecting the integrity of ecosystems. In extreme cases, air emissions have caused and are continuing to cause the death of some lakes. Similarly, the emission of mercury and other persistent air toxics will result in the contamination of our environment for generations to come. Thus, it is clear that the Canadian government's failure to adequately regulate air pollution is not in keeping with this aspect of sustainable development.

3.0 A note about trans-boundary contributions

The Petitioners acknowledge that in some regions of Canada, a significant proportion of ambient air pollution results from emissions originating in the United States,30 and it may be argued that the Government of Canada should not be held accountable for the activities of another state.

The Petitioners assert that, notwithstanding the actions of foreign states, the Government of Canada has a legal duty to do everything within its power to ensure reasonable air quality in the country. This would include effective reduction of domestic emissions in the short term, economic and transportation policy that will encourage greater reductions in the future, and concerted efforts at the international level to encourage our neighbour to the South to reduce its own emissions. As long as Canada is failing to do its utmost to reduce domestic air emissions, its international bargaining position will remain weak.31 It should also be noted that emissions from some parts of Canada contribute to air pollution in the northeast United States.32

4. 0 Recommendations

Viable solutions exist to achieve substantial reductions in air pollution in Canada. The Petitioners respectfully submit that the Government of Canada consider implementing the following proposals:

4.1 National Leadership

AMBIENT STANDARDS

  • Canada should immediately enact binding national ambient air quality standards with effective enforcement mechanisms

  • Ambient standards should be set at levels that provide meaningful protection for children, the elderly, and people with respiratory illnesses.

USE OF THE CANADIAN ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION ACT

  • The federal Minister of Environment should use his existing power under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA) to designate more air pollutants as toxic substances and require that effective pollution prevention plans be put in place to prevent and control the release of these contaminants.

  • Further, the federal Minister of Environment can and should act on his own comments to the Ontario government and intervene to prevent trans-boundary air pollution under section 166 of CEPA.33 In particular, the Minister can and should use his s. 166 authority to shut down the largest single point-source of air pollution in Canada, the Nanticoke coal-fired generating station in Ontario. Indeed, given the very severe pollution associated with coal-fired generation, Canada should make every effort to phase out coal-fired generation in the very near future and replace it with efficiency measures and electricity from renewable sources.

4.2 Vehicle Emissions34

EMISSION STANDARDS

  • Rather than adopting federal U.S. Tier 2 standards, Canada should instead implement California's LEV II program, in line with California timing.

  • Canada could improve on LEV II standards by increasing the full vehicle useful life to the more realistic figure of 250,000 km (155,000 miles-The LEV II standard is 120,000 miles [193,000 km]).

  • Canada should legislate interim emission standards to replace current negotiated interim standards. Interim standards should be based on California's LEV I standards instead of the current NLEV standards, so as to include larger SUVs.

  • Inspection and maintenance programs for on-road vehicles should be expanded beyond the Lower Fraser Valley in British Columbia and southern Ontario; the threshold for waivers should be raised so as to reduce the number of vehicles granted waivers sufficiently to lower HC and NOx levels by a further 5 percent.

  • Canada should introduce regulation in 2002 to implement the U.S. EPA 2004 emission and 2007 supplementary test standards for heavy-duty vehicles by 2003.

  • Canadian provinces (particularly Ontario, B.C. and Quebec, which have large urban populations and significant urban pollution) should bring in requirements for urban bus fleets similar to the California urban bus regulation.

FUEL CONTENT

  • The timing of required reductions in sulphur content in gasoline to 30 ppm should be aligned with increased car and light truck emission standards in 2004, and should include penalties for refiners who fail to comply. A further reduction to 15 ppm should be mandatory by 2006.

  • Off-road diesel sulphur standards should be harmonized with on-road content requirements-so as to reduce pollution problems and the possibility of the transfer of the dirtier fuel to the transport sector.

  • Following the European example, Canada should consider reducing taxes on low sulphur fuels in the order of $0.07 per litre to expedite their introduction into the market. Increased taxes on high sulphur fuels should also be introduced to offset revenue losses. These tax changes should be eliminated when the sulphur content has been reduced in all fuels.

  • Companies should be required to post at gas stations the sulfur level of the fuel they are marketing.

FUEL EFFICIENCY AND GREENHOUSE GASES

  • The Canadian government should enact mandatory fuel standards, with penalties for non-compliance, beginning with a 4.3 litres per 100 km standard for passenger cars (and a similar standard for light trucks) by 2006. Standards should continue be progressively tightened from this point. Mandatory legislated fuel efficiency standards should also be introduced for heavy-duty vehicles.

  • Governments should implement feebate and/or gas-guzzler taxes that apply differentially across the range of vehicles according to fuel efficiency. This should be accompanied by a campaign to publicize these measures.

  • Canada should put in place binding reductions in CO2 emissions from new car fleets (e.g., a 50 per cent reduction by 2006) and develop a timeline for continued reductions. Similar steps should be taken with larger vehicles.

TRANSPORTATION PLANNING

  • In general federal transportation grants should be tied to sustainable transportation policies which prioritize the prevention of air pollution. Meaningful federal funding should be provided to establish, maintain and improve public transit systems.

  • The federal Government should amend the Income Tax Act to either treat free parking as a taxable employee benefit or provide an exemption for transit bonuses.

4.3 The Energy Sector

  • The federal Government should institute a national sustainable energy policy that prioritizes the environment and human health

  • The federal Government should work with provinces that have traditionally relied heavily on the oil and gas industry to develop new sustainable economies that do not rely on these polluting industries

  • The federal Government should introduce creative taxes on carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxides, energy and electricity, similar to those in place in Sweden.35

  • The federal Government should provide leadership in supporting research and development into sustainable energy technologies.

To clarify, the Petitioners do not consider nuclear power to be a sustainable alternative to fossil fuels. The approach advocated by the Petitioners, and the only approach consistent with the principles of sustainable development embodied in the Act, is to develop and expand energy conservation initiatives and renewable energy technologies. Nuclear power carries with it unacceptable levels of risk and waste, and is so capital intensive that it effectively forecloses the possibility of developing environmentally benign alternatives.

5.0 Conclusion

Through this submission, the Petitioners are asking the Government of Canada to make significant improvements in its regulation of air pollution. Although some efforts have been made in this regard, the evidence reviewed above reveals that these efforts have been insufficient. At the same time research and international experience confirm that there are many options available to the Canadian government to improve air quality that are not being pursued. Given the toll taken by air pollution in this country, the Petitioners submit that this state of affairs is unacceptable. Simply put, it is the Petitioners' submission that mediocrity is inappropriate in matters of life and death.

The Canadian people, and in particular the children of Canada, have a right to expect proactive, meaningful and effective protection of air quality in this country. Other nations, with similar circumstances to the Canadian situation have achieved excellence in the regulation of air pollution. Given the resources at its disposal, Canada should be providing international leadership in the realm of air pollution rather than contenting itself with half-measures.

Indeed, the Petitioners submit that Canada has a legal obligation under international human rights law to do its utmost to provide for clean air and thereby protect the lives and health of its citizens. The Canadian Government's inadequate performance in this regard is in violation of core human rights recognized at international law, including the rights to life, health, and security of the person. The Petitioners urge the responsible federal agencies to consider their international human rights obligations when evaluating the criticisms and recommendations set out in this submission.


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Joint Response: Environment Canada, Finance Canada—Department of, Health Canada, Industry Canada, Natural Resources Canada, Transport Canada

 

RESPONSE
OF
ENVIRONMENT CANADA,
HEALTH CANADA,
TRANSPORT CANADA,
FINANCE CANADA,
INDUSTRY CANADA,
AND
NATURAL RESOURCES CANADA

TO
ENVIRONMENTAL PETITION NO. 55

BY
SIERRA LEGAL DEFENCE FUND
UNDER THE AUDITOR GENERAL ACT:

Review of the Government of Canada's policies, laws,
and regulations concerning air pollution and air quality

 

FOREWORD

On August 21, 2002, the Sierra Legal Defence Fund, on behalf of Greenpeace Canada and the Toronto Environmental Alliance, filed a Petition under section 22 of the Auditor General Act (see Appendix II [not available]). The Petition calls for a review of Government of Canada policies, laws, and regulations on air pollution and air quality.

The Office of the Auditor General and the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development forwarded the Petition to the Ministers of the Environment, Health, Finance, Transport, Industry, and Natural Resources. These six federal departments have collaborated on this response.

Section 22 of the Auditor General Act stipulates that a Minister has (a) 120 days after the day on which the Minister receives the petition from the Auditor General to respond to that petition; or (b) any longer time, where the Minister personally, within those 120 days, notifies the person who made the petition that it is not possible to reply within those 120 days and sends a copy of that notification to the Auditor General.

On December 19, 2002, the Minister of the Environment, on behalf of his colleagues, notified the Petitioners the response to the petition would be sent by February 14, 2003.


SUMMARY

The Petition presented by the Sierra Legal Defence Fund on behalf of Greenpeace Canada and the Toronto Environmental Alliance under the Auditor General Act calls for a review of "Canada's policies, laws, and regulations concerning air pollution and air quality." The Petition alleges that the Government of Canada is failing to adequately regulate air pollution, and to provide for legally binding air quality standards in Canada. It is also alleging that the Government has failed to integrate the environment into economic policies.

Government of Canada policies are based on the belief that natural resources should be used in ways that do not adversely affect the quality of life and health of citizens, either today or in the future. Such sustainable development principles are key elements of the Government of Canada policies. They have been a priority in the development and implementation of new policies and programs since sustainable development was institutionalized within the federal government's decision-making process in 1990.

The Government of Canada is proud of the progress it has made in combating air pollution. For over two decades, it has implemented regulations, developed international agreements and provided incentives for change. It has nurtured cooperation on environmental issues with provinces and territories, as well as municipalities, industries, and the Canadian public. As a result, there have been major improvements in the overall quality of the environment, including air quality.

In the 1990s, scientific progress brought forward evidence demonstrating that more and quicker action was necessary. That is why the Government of Canada launched its Clean Air plan of action in May 2000. The plan focuses on reducing transboundary, transportation and major industrial emissions, as well as advancing the science and engaging the public.

More specifically, the Government of Canada is working with partners to reduce the emissions of air pollutants that affect air quality using a range of instruments. These include voluntary actions, information programs, incentives, regulations, as well as agreements with provinces and territories, industry, and international partners. In February 2001, the Government of Canada announced an investment of $120 million over four years to reduce emissions from key domestic sources. This investment also included assistance to provinces for development of emissions reduction strategies in key industrial sectors.

Recent achievements in the reduction of air pollutants include Canada-wide Standards for Particulate Matter and Ozone, the Ozone Annex to the 1991 Canada-United States Air Quality Agreement, the 1998 Canada-wide Acid Rain Strategy for Post-2000, and the May 2001, Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants. The Government of Canada has recently introduced a series of regulations on vehicles, engines, and fuels; for example, the Sulphur in Diesel Fuel Regulations, which complement the On-Road Vehicle and Engine Emission Regulations, and set a maximum limit on sulphur for on-road diesel fuel that is 97 percent less than the previous regulatory maximum. By the year 2020, it is estimated that these two key regulations will cause reductions of the emissions from these vehicles of 74 percent for the nitrogen oxides, 14 percent for the Volatile Organic Compounds, 64 per cent for PM10, and 84 per cent for SO2.

The Government of Canada has introduced a number of economic instruments to improve the environment such as the Wind Power Production Incentive which promotes renewable energy. It has also provided financial support to environmental projects such as Infrastructure Funds and the Green Municipal Funds which is managed by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities.

Canada tracks the improvements in air quality, and the trends on key pollutants through national programs and monitoring networks. The monitoring shows that efforts to curb the pollution are producing results. In the 1970s and 1980s, scrubbers on smokestacks, catalytic converters and other pollution controls on vehicles and point sources, such as smelters and electric power plants, were responsible for significant reductions in several air pollutants. These have occurred despite a significant increase in economic activity. For instance, sulphur dioxide (SO2) emissions dropped by 47 percent from 1980 to 2000, and nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions have been significantly reduced and there also has been a dramatic decrease in ambient air levels of lead and benzene.

Since the early 1990's there has been a general flattening or leveling off of air quality improvements, pollutant concentrations are remaining relatively steady in major Canadian cities. However, over the coming decades, as vehicles are replaced, NOx emissions of on-road vehicles are expected to decrease by more than 90 percent and emissions reductions negotiated under the Ozone Annex will result in further emission reductions.

Yet, more can be done. The progress of the last decade must be built upon and air quality continues to be improved. The commitment to future efforts has been clearly stated and re-stated through a series of actions and agreements, including the 2002 Speech from the Throne and recent announcements by the Canadian Minister of the Environment and by the Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Both governments are committed to cooperating on future improvements in air quality.

In this document, the Government of Canada has responded to each of the recommendations of the Petition. In most cases, the government has enumerated actions on issues and provided information on achievements.

Government of Canada actions on air quality, and on all issues, must be in keeping with the country's constitutional structure. Provincial governments have also taken action to reduce emissions and are expected to do more. They can best address some of the petition's recommendations.


TABLE OF CONTENTS

FOREWORD

SUMMARY

ACRONYMS

INTRODUCTION

Background

Structure of the Response

THE RESPONSE OF THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT TO THE PETITION

Response to Issues

2.1 The Integration of Environment and Economy

Integration of environment and the economy

Economic policies and use of economic instruments

Results of efforts

2.2 Protecting the Health of Canadians

Introduction

Research and assessment

Education and outreach

Air quality monitoring programs

Trends in monitored air pollutants

Commitments to improve air quality

2.3 Protecting Ecosystems

Ontario SO2 emissions

Emissions of toxic substances

2.4 Meeting International Obligations

Ozone Annex and amendments to the 1991 Canada-United States Air Quality Agreement

The precautionary principle

The right to life

2.5 Promoting Equity

2.6 Appropriate Planning

Planning: Prevention

Planning: Reduction

Transboundary emissions

Transportation sector emissions

Canada-wide Standards

Industrial sector emissions

Advancing the science

Engaging the public

Clean air - climate change linkages

2.7 Pollution Prevention

2.8 Respecting Nature and the Needs of Future Generations

Sustainable development and air pollution regulation

3.0 Transboundary Contributions

Response to Recommendations

4.0 Recommendations

Ambient standards

Use of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act

Emission standards

Fuel content

Fuel efficiency and greenhouse gases

Transportation planning

The energy sector

FIGURES AND TABLES

APPENDIX 1

Government of Canada's efforts to reduce GHG emissions from the transportation sector



ACRONYMS

ATVP

Advanced Technology Vehicles Program

CAFC

Company average fuel consumption

CAPMoN

Canadian Air and Precipitation Monitoring Network

CCME

Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment

CEAA

Canadian Environmental Assessment Act

CEPA

Canadian Environmental Protection Act

CEPA

1999 Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999

CETC

CANMET Energy Technology Centre

CO

Carbon monoxide

CO2

Carbon dioxide

COH

Coefficient of haze

CWS

Canada-wide Standard

E-10

Blend of 10 percent ethanol and 90 percent gasoline

E-85

Blend of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline

EPA

Environmental Protection Agency (United States)

G7

Group of Seven countries (Canada, United States, Japan, France, Germany, Italy, United Kingdom)

GHG

Greenhouse gas

HC

Hydrocarbon

HIV

Human immunodeficiency virus

ICAO

International Civil Aviation Organization

IMO

International Maritime Organization

IQUA

Index of the Quality of the Air

IRAP

Industrial Research Assistance Program

ITS

Intelligent Transportation Systems

LEV II

Amendments to California's Low Emission Vehicle Regulations

MARPOL

International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships

MOU

Memorandum of understanding

MVSA

Motor Vehicle Safety Act

NAAQO

National Ambient Air Quality Objective

NAPS

National Air Pollution Surveillance

NGO

Non-governmental organization

NLEV

National Low Emission Vehicle

NO

Nitric oxide

NO2

Nitrogen dioxide

NOx

Nitrogen oxides

NPRI

National Pollutant Release Inventory

NSERC

Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council

O3

Ozone

OECD

Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development

PEMA

Pollutant Emission Management Area

PERD

Program of Energy Research and Development

PM

Particulate matter

PM2.5

Particulate matter less than or equal to 2.5 microns mass median aerodynamic diameter

PM10

Particulate matter less than or equal to 10 microns mass median aerodynamic diameter

ppb

Part per billion

ppm

Part per million

R&D

Research and development

SDTC

Sustainable Development Technology Canada

SDTF

Sustainable Development Technology Fund

SEA

Strategic environmental assessment

SO2

Sulphur dioxide

SOx

Sulphur oxides

SUV

Sport utility vehicle

TAC

Transportation Association of Canada

TDC

Transportation Development Centre

TEAM

Technology Early Action Measures

TTC

Toronto Transit Commission

UTSP

Urban Transportation Showcase Program

VOC

Volatile organic compound

INTRODUCTION

Background

The Petition presented by the Sierra Legal Defence Fund on behalf of Greenpeace Canada and the Toronto Environmental Alliance under the Auditor General Act calls for a review of "Canada's policies, laws, and regulations concerning air pollution and air quality."

The Petitioner requests that "Canada's performance ... be measured against criteria laid out in the Auditor General Act," namely, section 21.1, which states that the Commissioner is to provide monitoring and reporting on progress towards sustainable development in areas such as:

  1. the integration of the environment and the economy;

  2. protecting the health of Canadians;

  3. protecting ecosystems;

  4. meeting international obligations;

  5. promoting equity;

  6. an integrated approach to planning and making decisions that takes into account the environmental and natural resource costs of different economic options and the economic costs of different environmental and natural resource options;

  7. preventing pollution; and

  8. respect for nature and the needs of future generations.

Additionally, the Petitioners "assert that, notwithstanding the actions of foreign states, the Government of Canada has a legal duty to do everything within its power to ensure reasonable air quality in the country," including "concerted efforts at the international level to encourage our neighbour to the South to reduce its own emissions."

The remaining element of the Petition entails a series of recommendations that the Petitioners submit the Government of Canada should consider for implementation. The Petitioners call on the government to:

  • enact binding national ambient air quality standards set at levels that provide meaningful protection for populations at risk;

  • use the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA) "to designate more air pollutants as toxic substances and require that effective pollution prevention plans be put in place to prevent and control the release of these contaminants;

  • set more rigorous vehicle emissions and fuel standards;

  • enact mandatory fuel efficiency standards; and link transportation grants to sustainable transportation policies.

Environment Canada, Health Canada, Finance Canada, Transport Canada, Industry Canada, and Natural Resources Canada have collaborated on the response to the Petition.

Structure of the Response

To facilitate the review of the response, the structure of the Petition has been followed. The section "Response to Issues" addresses the issues and clarifies statements and facts identified in Petition sections 2.0 and 3.0. The section "Response to Recommendations" addresses the recommendations made by the Petitioners in section 4.0.

In order to facilitate the reading of the response, all of the text from the Petition (issues and recommendations) has been boxed, followed immediately by the responses of the federal departments. For added clarity, all of the references found in the original Petition text (boxed) were removed. However, the full text of the Petition, including the references, can be found in Appendix III [not available -  please see full text of Petition No. 55 on the Petitions' Web site catalog at www.oag-bvg.gc.ca/domino/petitions.nsf/english ].

While this format facilitates the review of the response to the Petition and permits the reader to focus on the sections of most interest, it also means there is some repetition. Efforts have been made to reduce the repetitiveness by providing the most complete responses under a few key sections and by providing abbreviated responses under others. It should be understood, however, that some repetitiveness could not be avoided.

 

THE RESPONSE OF THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT TO THE PETITION

Response to Issues

2.1 The Integration of Environment and Economy

Issue

2.1 The integration of environment and economy

Canada's economic policies continue to provide support for industries and technologies that result in serious harm to air quality, human health and the environment. As with other forms of pollution, the real costs of air-polluting industries and technologies in Canada continue to be borne by the public at large through damage to the environment and public health. As an example, the Ontario Medical Association has estimated that air pollution costs that province more than $1 billion a year in hospital admissions, emergency room visits, and absenteeism. In Ontario and elsewhere, these costs are "externalized" by the industries responsible for them. As a result, Canadians as a group are subsidizing polluting industries at the expense of public health and the environment.

International experience reveals that appropriate economic instruments can achieve significant reductions in air pollution. In Sweden for example, the combination of strict regulations with full cost pricing of environmental goods through the removal of subsidies and implementation of environmental taxes has produced a more efficient and environmentally conscious society. Comparisons of Canada to Sweden show that despite very similar economies, climates and standards of living, Sweden produces far smaller volumes of the major air pollutants NOx and SO2 per capita than Canada. Canadians produce 88.9 kg/person of SO2 for Sweden's 10.3 kg/person and 67.1 kg/person of NOx for Sweden's 38.1 kg/person. Perhaps even more telling is the fact that since 1980 Canada has only been able to decrease its NOx and SO2 emissions by 1.6 percent and 15.3 percent, respectively, while Sweden has managed to decrease its emissions of these pollutants by 24.8 percent and 80 percent over the same time period.


Response

2.1 Integration of environment and the economy

The Government of Canada has been very active in its efforts to improve air quality, in cooperation with provinces and territories, municipalities, industries, and the Canadian public. It is committed to further efforts in the future.

In order to prevent increases in pollution, the government has institutionalized the integration of environmental considerations into its decision making. Since 1990, federal departments and agencies have been required to integrate environmental considerations into developing policy, program, plan, or regulatory proposals. This process is known as "strategic environmental assessment" (SEA). It is a systematic, ongoing process for evaluating, at the earliest appropriate stage in decision making, the environmental effects and consequences of initiatives by ensuring full integration of the relevant biophysical, economic, social, and political factors. The SEA process was made stronger in 1999, through the clarification of departmental obligations and the linkage of environmental assessments to the implementation of sustainable development strategies.

Economic policies and use of economic instruments

The government recognizes that innovative policy tools such as economic instruments hold promise for promoting environmental excellence. The government has introduced a number of instruments to improve the environment such as the Wind Power Production Incentive to promote renewable energy, and the Green Municipal Funds (managed at arms length from the government by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities) to support environmental projects.

Another example of economic instruments includes recent changes by the Government of Canada to the tax system with respect to renewable energy. These changes include:

  • several improvements to Capital Cost Allowance Class 43.1 in recent budgets, including some additions to the list of eligible equipment and activities (Class 43.1 includes certain renewable energy and energy efficiency equipment that qualifies for an accelerated capital cost allowance rate of 30 percent);

  • the introduction of Canadian renewable and conservation expense (CRCE) for projects primarily using equipment eligible for Class 43.1 (CRCE includes certain intangible expenditures associated with the start-up phase of renewable and energy conservation projects; they are fully deductible and eligible for flow-through shares); and

  • consultations with the Canadian wind energy industry on the definition of a test wind turbine contained in the Income Tax Regulations, and the current Natural Resources Canada criteria for a test wind turbine, permitting more than one test wind turbine as part of a taxpayer's wind farm to qualify for special tax incentives and allowing greater flexibility in the timing of investment financed using flow-through shares.

The government continues to assess how to make best use of other economic instruments to improve air quality, and will draw from the work by other organizations. For example, Canada's National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy, an independent advisory body appointed by the Prime Minister, is exploring potential strategies. Through its Ecological Fiscal Reform program, it can advise on redirection of both government taxation and expenditure programs toward an integrated set of incentives supporting the shift to sustainable development.

Federal government departments and agencies have monitored these initiatives and others at the international level and in institutions such as the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The best practices acquired from this involvement are used to inform internal evaluation of options for implementation in the Canadian context.

Results of efforts

Government efforts on pollution prevention, including economic, regulatory, voluntary, and incentive pollution reduction programs, have resulted in marked reductions in the levels of several pollutants in ambient air. Increases in other pollutants have been held in check, despite significant increases in economic activity and further reductions are expected.

For instance, sulphur dioxide (SO2) emissions, for which there are robust statistics, fell from about 4643 kilotonnes in 1980 to about 2470 kilotonnes in 2000, a drop of 47 percent nationwide.1 Further reductions will be made. New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Quebec, and Ontario have announced new reduction targets of 50 percent relative to previous commitments.

Nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions are currently estimated to have remained largely constant or to have declined in the period from 1980 to 2000, despite a significant increase in the number of sources. These emissions are difficult to compare over many years because of changes in the way estimates have been done, however they are projected to decline significantly in the future.

Transportation systems are the major NOx emitters in Canada, and regulations now in place on vehicles and fuels will reduce the on-road vehicle emissions by more than 90 percent as vehicle fleets are replaced over the coming decades.

Canada ranks well among the countries of the world. For example, in "Keeping Score - 2001," authored by the Friends of the Earth and published in the Ecologist journal, Canada ranks first among G7 countries and third within the OECD. While Canada does rank lower in studies that use per capita comparisons, such as the study to which the Petitioners refer (Canada vs. Sweden: An Environmental Face-off), such studies should be interpreted with caution. Different industrial infrastructures, populations, and geography make comparisons difficult on emissions per capita between countries (such as Canada and Sweden). For example, countries with lower population densities tend to have greater energy requirements per capita, particularly within transportation.

In addition to the programs and initiatives outlined here, the Government of Canada has numerous major policies and programs underway or being developed, often in cooperation with the provinces. All are aimed at protecting the health of Canadians and the environment. These are more fully discussed in other sections (primarily under "Appropriate Planning"). More information can also be found at http://www.ec.gc.ca/air/.

2.2 Protecting the Health of Canadians

Issue

2.2 Protecting the Health of Canadians

Epidemiological data confirms that Canada's overall strategy for combating air pollution in the country is failing. Conservative estimates place the total number of excess deaths caused by air pollution in Canada at 5000 per year. Health Canada notes that "[a]ir pollution exacerbates the condition of people with respiratory and cardiovascular diseases and causes measurable increases in the rates of hospitalization and death from these diseases." In 1996-97 15% and 9%, respectively, of all hospital admissions in Canada resulted from cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, and 37% and 9% of deaths were related to cardiovascular and respiratory diseases respectively.

With respect to Ontario, a province with a particularly severe air pollution problem, the Ontario Medical Association has stated the following:

We are all breathing poisons in Ontario's air. We are exposed to smog - a chemical soup containing ground level ozone and particulates. Poisons such as ozone and particulates have known health effects which include coughing, wheezing, chest tightness, aggravation of asthma attacks, increased severity of bronchitis and emphysema, decreased lung function, indirect damage to the immune system, and death. Our most vulnerable citizens, the children and the elderly, are also the most sensitive to these poisons.

The Ontario Medical Association recently estimated that approximately 1,900 premature deaths were expected to occur in Ontario in the year 2000 from the effects of air pollution. Annually, about 9,800 people are admitted to the hospital and 13,000 people make emergency room visits due to the effects of air pollution in Ontario. As our population increases and ages, the number of people affected by air pollution is also expected to increase.

The Toronto Public Health Department has estimated that 1,000 early deaths and 5,500 hospital admissions are linked to air pollution levels in that city.

Although Ontario's air pollution problem is one of the best studied in Canada, the data clearly demonstrates that unsafe levels of air pollution exist in cities and rural areas across the country. For example:

  • Data from 16 Canadian cities showed that hospitalization for respiratory problems was correlated to ozone, PM and CO levels.

  • Elevated levels of fine particulate matter are associated with an increase in deaths due to lung cancer. The increased risk of mortality is roughly comparable to second hand smoke or obesity.

  • A study in Montreal from 1984 to 1993 confirmed that there is a linear association between ambient air particles and mortality. Ambient concentrations in Montreal were sufficient to cause significant increases in illness and death. Deaths from respiratory problems increased 9.03% for predicted PM2.5, 4.64% for sulfates, and 6.90% for COH at air pollution levels noted. The data revealed a positive correlation between levels of air pollution and emergency room visits and hospital admissions in Montreal.

  • A positive linear association between ozone asthma emergency dept. visits was found in St. John, NB (May to Sept, 1984-92). Visits were 33% higher when the daily max 1-hr [O3] exceeded 75ppb.

  • The South Fraser Health Region in British Columbia states that air pollution is an important public health issue and is linked to illness and death in the lower mainland. The report cites conservative mortality figures between 15 and 150 deaths per year attributable to air pollution. This translates to 0.11% to 1.16% of all deaths in the region. The report notes that although air pollution levels are relatively low in the region, in comparison to other centres with similar populations, the mortality rates from air pollution are similar to those associated with motor vehicle accidents, suicides and HIV in the area.

  • The results of a long-term, health effects study has shown that children living in high ozone communities who actively participate in several sports, are more likely to develop asthma than children not participating in sports. Also children living in communities with higher concentrations of NO2, PM, and acid vapour have lungs that develop and grow more slowly and are less able to move air through them. This decreased lung development may have permanent adverse effects in adulthood.


Response

Introduction

Providing cleaner air to Canadians is a priority for the Government of Canada. The studies and reports quoted in the Petition are part of a body of mounting evidence indicating that air pollution affects health more than previously believed. Further research, assessment, education, and outreach are crucial in efforts to improve air quality in Canada.

The quality of ambient air is affected by both human activities and natural processes. Human activities produce large quantities of substances that are released into the air, where they can overload natural processes and build up to levels harmful to humans. The result is poor air quality in urban and rural areas around the world.

Although these have been a levelling off of air quality improvements in the 1990s, ambient air monitoring programs show significant improvements in the air quality of large Canadian urban areas since the 1970s. For example, Figure 1 shows a significant decrease since 1980 in the number of days on which ground-level ozone levels exceeded the air quality objective. These improvements are largely because of government interventions such as cleaner-burning engines, cleaner gasoline, more and better scrubbers in industrial smokestacks, cleaner industrial processes, and improved energy efficiency.2 Further improvements are expected as new programs are implemented and new regulations take effect.

Research and assessment

Research and assessment are at the foundation of effective efforts to achieve cleaner air quality in Canada. Federal leadership has enabled the Air Health Effects Division at Health Canada's Healthy Environments and Consumer Safety Branch to focus on air quality issues, and to bring forward the science-supporting direction for federal and cross-departmental initiatives.

Health Canada has conducted air quality research projects and assessments, and communicated the results in a variety of ways, including publications in peer-reviewed journals. Support will continue for cross-departmental and stakeholder-initiated projects to parallel internal work. Health Canada scientists actively participate in national and regional conferences, providing current information to relevant stakeholders on the health effects of air pollution.

As more risk indicators are identified, Health Canada continues to assess and make determinations on how best to communicate those risks to the public. While information delivery links have been developed with a wide range of health and environmental non-governmental organizations (NGOs), it is important to bridge the gaps among delivery of findings, pertinence of data, and the need to inform and educate Canadians.

Scientists in the Meteorological Service of Canada (MSC) at Environment Canada study the chemistry and physics of the atmosphere. This research is focused on short-term events (weather), longer-term atmospheric conditions (climate) and air quality issues, such as acid rain, stratospheric ozone depletion and the resulting increase in ultraviolet radiation, ground-level ozone and particulate matter (smog), as well as hazardous air pollutants

The research focuses to a large extent on understanding the relationship between pollution sources and the resulting ambient levels of air pollution (source-receptor relationships) which consequently permits the definition of the environmental benefits of emissions reductions. MSC scientists also contribute to the assessment of the current state of knowledge and communicate this understanding to relevant stakeholders.

Government scientists frequently work with researchers in universities and other federal and provincial departments, as well as with experts in the private sector, on atmospheric issues of mutual interest. Where human or ecosystem health is affected by atmospheric conditions, cooperative work is also carried out with scientists in these fields.

Education and outreach

In the area of education and communications, outreach projects include poster development on air quality in conjunction with the Canadian Lung Association, as well as a series of air quality bulletins (one completed, five in process, and another six slated for the coming year). Some of these efforts have been shared cooperatively with health NGOs, which have produced educational materials using Health Canada findings. For instance, the Canadian Public Health Association has worked with Health Canada on collateral materials relating to air quality and seniors, children, and other susceptible populations.

In addition, Health Canada has supported cross-departmental initiatives aimed at delivering information on wider-ranging issues, such as transboundary air quality and climate change. Collaborative efforts with the Weather Channel / MétéoMédia include a series of television vignettes on the health effects of air pollution. A number of brochures and fact sheets are available through Health Canada's Web site and communications branch

The Clean Air Agenda also aims to increase public awareness and understanding of air quality issues and their health effects. It offers suggestions on actions that Canadians can take to improve air quality.

For example, encouraging people to "leave their car at home" and use sustainable transportation is an initiative that the Government of Canada has supported for a number of years through Clean Air Day related activities such as the Commuter Challenge and Green Commute Program. The Commuter Challenge is a week long event aimed at encouraging individuals to adopt "green" ways of traveling to and from work. In 2002, the Commuter Challenge was a huge success, with the participation of 34 cities across Canada and more than 46,000 participants.

To deliver air quality forecasts from coast to coast, Environment Canada fosters partnerships with provinces, territories, municipalities and health organizations, and is now involved in key agreements with these in a number of areas of the country. Such agreements led to the decision to expand the experimental forecasting program, both geographically and scientifically. This program expansion is part of the Government of Canada's commitment to develop, for all Canadians, consistent and reliable information programs and environmental prediction tools. Currently, Canadians are being engaged through local pilot summertime Air Quality Forecasts in British Columbia, Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic Canada, covering more than 60 percent of the Canadian population.

In addition, an intensive multi-stakeholder process and two workshops have produced both short and long term recommendations that move Canada towards a multi-pollutant health risk based air quality index, or AQI.

Air quality monitoring programs

A number of national programs monitor air quality and air pollutant emissions in Canada. The measurement of ambient air quality shows concentrations of pollutants actually breathed by people, while emission inventories indicate the quantities of pollutants emitted and how those change over time.

In Canada, air quality is monitored by four networks and reference systems: the National Air Pollution Surveillance (NAPS) Network, the Canadian Air and Precipitation Monitoring Network (CAPMoN), the National Ambient Air Quality Objectives (NAAQOs), and the Index of the Quality of the Air (IQUA). Emissions are monitored through the National Pollutant Release Inventory (NPRI) system.

  • National Air Pollution Surveillance Network: The NAPS Network was established in 1969 as a federal-provincial program to monitor air pollutants in major urban centres across Canada. NAPS typically monitors five common air pollutants: SO2, carbon monoxide (CO), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), ground-level ozone, and total suspended particulates.

    With the exception of ozone and specific types of particulates, concentrations of these pollutants decreased between 1979 and 1996 (Table 1).

  • Canadian Air and Precipitation Monitoring Network: CAPMoN, with 24 air monitoring stations in rural areas, fulfils a function similar to that of the NAPS Network.

    Levels of SO2 and sulphate in air and rain have declined in certain regions of Canada in keeping with the reduced emissions in North America.

  • National Ambient Air Quality Objectives: Under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act 1999 (CEPA1999), NAAQOs have been determined for the five air pollutants monitored by NAPS, created as thresholds so there can be a better understanding of the impact and risks of these pollutant concentrations. Three levels of NAAQOs have been defined: "maximum desirable," "maximum acceptable," and "maximum tolerable."

  • Index of the Quality of the Air: The IQUA has also been created using the NAAQOs for Canada. In this index, air pollution is evaluated and rated as "good," "fair," or "poor." The evaluations are derived from measuring the five air pollutants monitored by NAPS, averaged over periods ranging from 1 to 24 hours in length.

    Although IQUA has been used extensively for many years, public health officials are increasingly calling into question the validity of the index and the accuracy of the message it sends to the public. This concern is based on a preponderance of evidence indicating there is no threshold for the mortality and morbidity effects of air pollution. In other words, death and illness occur even at lower levels of air pollution, previously considered indicative of "good" air quality. IQUA also does not reflect simultaneous effects of multiple pollutants. The Minister of Environment has committed to introducing a revised IQUA to address these issues.

  • National Pollutant Release Inventory: The NPRI collects information on releases and transfers of pollutants from more than 2500 facilities across Canada. Emissions from criteria air pollutants (i.e., NOx, volatile organic compounds [VOCs], particulate matter less than or equal to 10 or 2.5 microns in diameter [PM10 and PM2.5 ], total particulate matter, sulphur oxides [SOx ], CO), were formally added to the NPRI in 2002. The NPRI website makes the data publicly available.

Trends in monitored air pollutants

The air contains about 20 percent oxygen and 80 percent nitrogen by volume. It also contains traces of thousands of other substances, from both natural and human sources, including chemicals and biological substances (such as pollen). These trace components, either alone or in combination, can have an impact on air quality.

The five most commonly measured air pollutants are SO2, CO, NO2, ground-level ozone, and particulate matter. A major source of these pollutants is the burning of fossil fuels, such as gasoline, diesel fuel, oil, and coal. Other pollutants of concern include toxic metals and compounds, such as lead, mercury, and benzene.

  • Sulphur dioxide: The two largest emitters of SO2 are the electrical power generation industry and the transportation sector. In 2000, SO2 levels were 21 percent of the maximum acceptable level. This level represents an 18 percent drop since 1980 (Figure 2).

  • Carbon monoxide: CO is generated primarily from the incomplete combustion of fossil fuels. Although CO is released by natural sources, such as volcanoes and forest fires, its most common source is transportation. Levels of CO tend to vary with traffic patterns during the day. Typically, CO concentrations are higher in urban areas than in rural areas.

    The amount of CO created by human activities has dropped significantly since the introduction of catalytic converters in cars and trucks in the early 1970s. In 1980, CO levels were 31 percent of the maximum acceptable level, but dropped to just 12 percent in 2000 (Figure 2).

  • Nitrogen dioxide: NO2 is generated through high-temperature combustion processes, including transportation and industrial fuel combustion. Given these sources, NO2 levels are typically higher in urban areas.

    There has been a general decline in concentrations of NO2 across Canada. In the 20-year period between 1980 and 2000, annual NO2 concentrations as a percentage of the NAAQO maximum acceptable level dropped from 46 percent to 28 percent (Figure 2).

  • Ground-level ozone: Ground-level ozone is produced by the photochemical reaction of sunlight with VOCs and NOx. Because this process is influenced by temperature, concentrations of ground-level ozone are usually highest during sunny days in the summer, particularly in the afternoon.

    Generally, concentrations of ground-level ozone have declined slightly, but still remain close to the maximum acceptable levels. In 1980, national ground-level ozone concentrations exceeded the NAAQO maximum acceptable level by 4 percent; by 2000, levels were 18 percent below the maximum acceptable level.

  • Particulate matter: Particulate matter (PM) is a broad category of air pollutants that includes a range of small solids or liquids varying in size and chemical composition. The smallest, PM2.5, are considered to be the most dangerous, because they can penetrate deeply into the lungs.

    Between 1985 and 2000, the ambient air concentration of the smaller particles, PM2.5 and PM10, dropped by approximately 35 percent and 30 percent, respectively (Figure 3).

  • Lead: Lead is a neurotoxin and can negatively impact the nervous system. Between the early 1970s, before the introduction of unleaded fuels, and 1992, lead levels declined by approximately 98 percent, and they have since remained at that level. This is viewed as one of the major accomplishments in Canadian air quality.

  • Benzene: Benzene is linked to ailments such as leukemia and anemia. It is a substance naturally found in petroleum products and emitted by evaporation or through incomplete combustion. Between 1991 and 1997, ambient air concentrations declined by 27 percent. Since then, regulations reducing the concentration of benzene in gasoline are contributing to additional reductions, while vehicle regulations are expected to contribute even more. Ambient air benzene concentrations in 2001 were 59 percent lower than in 1991 (Figure 4).

  • Mercury: Mercury is a heavy metal that is a liquid at room temperature and that can volatilize into the air and be carried globally on wind currents. In Canada, mercury emissions come mainly from coal-fired power plants, base metal smelting, and incinerators. The majority of mercury deposited on Canadian land and water comes from the global pool of mercury.

    Under the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment, Canadian jurisdictions (except Quebec) have signed Canada-wide Standards for mercury emissions from incinerators and base metal smelters, and for mercury-containing lamps and dental amalgam waste. Implementation plans for these Standards are currently under development. Federal, provincial, and territorial governments are also developing a Canada-wide Standard for mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants.

    Recognizing the international nature of the problem, Canada's actions on mercury include: the signing and ratification of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe Protocol on Heavy Metals; the Arctic Council's Project to Reduce Atmospheric Mercury in Arctic Countries; the North American Regional Action Plan on Mercury (with the US and Mexico); the Canada-US Great Lakes Bi-national Toxics Strategy; and the New England Governors Eastern Canadian Premiers Mercury Action Plan.

Commitments to improve air quality

Commitments that will help to address these and other pollutants include:

  • Canada-wide Standards (CWSs) on PM (30 µg/m3 averaged over 24 hours) and ozone (65 parts per billion, or ppb, averaged over 8 hours), to be achieved by 2010;

  • the Ozone Annex to the 1991 Canada-United States Air Quality Agreement (expected to result in reductions in emissions of NOx and VOCs of 39 percent and 18 percent of 1990 levels, respectively, by 2007);

  • the 1998 Canada-wide Acid Rain Strategy for Post-2000, which will include further reductions in SO2 emissions by 2010 in eastern Canada (note that under the first SO2 emissions reduction program, Canadian SO2 emissions declined by over 40 percent between the 1980 base year and 19993); several provinces have announced further reductions of up to 50 percent relative to their previous commitments; and

  • federal investment of $120 million to address emissions from key domestic sources, such as vehicles, their fuels, and a number of engines, and to help provinces develop emissions reduction strategies for key industrial sectors.

Even given current efforts under way, further improvements in air quality are a priority of the Government of Canada. As stated in the 2002 Speech from the Throne and in recent announcements by the Canadian Minister of the Environment and the Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), both governments are committed to working with each other to further improve air quality.

Many actions taken to address climate change concerns will also have a positive impact on air quality. Efforts to improve energy efficiency, for example, or to switch to lower emitting fuel sources, will also reduce NOx and SO2 emissions.

For more information on the Government of Canada's programs and commitments to improve air quality, refer to the section on "Appropriate Planning."

2.3 Protecting Ecosystems

Issue

2.3 Protecting Ecosystems

Acid gas emissions, sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxides, remain a serious issue in Canada despite significant reductions in the past decade. Canada emitted almost 2,500 kilotonnes of SO2 and 2,200 kilotonnes of NOx in 1999. Approximately half of these emissions were attributable to Alberta and Ontario, with Ontario's SO2 emissions expected to rise significantly by 2005.

Environment Canada has stated that without further reductions of SO2 and NOx beyond those set out in the 1991 Canada-U.S. Air Quality Agreement many areas of southeastern Canada will continue to receive harmful amounts of acid rain.

The International Joint Commission on the Air Quality Agreement Progress Report (Canada-U.S) predicted that even with all of the current control mechanisms in place, six to fifteen percent of fish species will continue to be lost due to acidification of lakes. In some areas of Canada a 75 percent further reduction may be required in order [to] avoid serious ecological damage.

In addition to acidifying air emissions, air polluters in Canada also emit a number of "air toxics" which are persistent, bioaccumulative, and dangerous to human health. The Ontario Ministry of the Environment points out that atmospheric emissions, mainly from coal combustion, are "the major source of mercury in Ontario's lakes, soil and vegetation."

Air pollution also damages terrestrial ecosystems in Canada. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada notes, as one example of the effects of air pollution on agriculture, that the quality and yield of crops grown near areas of high population density are damaged by ground-level ozone. This is especially important since many farms in these areas tend to grow high-value crops.


Response

Ontario SO2 emissions

Current projections indicate that after an initial modest increase in 2005, SO2 emissions in Ontario will fall by 2010, before any reductions realized from the province's recently announced program aimed at further SO2 emissions reductions.

Emissions of toxic substances

Substances released by Canadian industry into the air that meet the definition of "toxic" as defined by CEPA 1999 have been added or have been recommended to be added to Schedule 1 (List of Toxic Substances) of the Act, thereby requiring risk management actions to address key sources of release. CEPA 1999 specifically requires that toxic substances that are persistent and bioaccumulative (excluding naturally occurring radionuclides or naturally occurring inorganic substances or substance that are not present primarily from human activity) be managed to virtually eliminate the substances from releases. See other sections for more information on programs and results.

2.4 Meeting International Obligations

Issue

2.4 Meeting International Obligations

The most pertinent international agreement to date is the Agreement Between the Government of Canada and the Government of the United States of America on Air Quality. This original agreement was signed in 1991 and later amended in 2000. The 2000 amendment, or "Ozone Annex," placed strict caps on nitrogen oxides in order to drastically reduce ground level ozone within a defined area of Canada and the US. In Canada this encompasses most of Ontario and a significant portion of Quebec. The largest sources of NOx in Ontario are in the transportation and electricity sector. The Ontario government has recently enacted legislation that caps NOx emissions from the electricity sector to 24.6 kt/yr by 2008 for the area designated under this agreement. While this is below the cap set in the agreement of 39kt/yr there is a possibility for exceedences to still occur since facilities can opt to buy additional NOx "pollution credits" to continue polluting above the capped amount. This is the main source of criticism of Ontario's "cap, credit and trade" scheme for controlling NOx emissions from the electricity sector. In a formal comment to the Ontario Ministry of the Environment on its emissions trading program the federal government points out that:

While emission reduction credit trading can certainly be a useful tool within an air abatement program, it is not a tool that could be used for compliance with the NO2 cap on the electricity sector agreed to in the Ozone Annex. With regard to encouraging emission reductions in uncapped sectors in Ontario, it is essential that the baseline requirements and other eligibility criteria lead to credits that represent real and verified emission reductions and that the use of these credits over time...are strictly managed.

It should also be noted that as global warming increases the opportunity for secondary reactions such as those that produce ground-level ozone will further increase, exacerbating the current air pollution problems. Canada's ratification and institution of the mechanisms contained in the Kyoto Protocol is a key factor in helping to combat these health effects. Canada has yet to ratify the Kyoto Protocol.

Canada's inadequate regulation is also in violation of the "precautionary principle" of international law, which requires states to take a precautionary approach to environmental problems in the presence of scientific uncertainty. While the data clearly demonstrates that air pollution not only causes significant health and environmental harm, but also a considerable number of deaths, the full impact of air pollution, particularly air toxics (including "persistent organic pollutants") has yet to be understood. In light of the potential for even more severe harm than that which has already been documented, the government of Canada has an international legal obligation to proceed in a proactive and assertive programme designed to effectively achieve safe air.

Finally, as noted at the outset, the Petitioners submit that Canada's inadequate regulation of air pollution constitutes a violation of citizens' basic human rights including the rights to health, security of the person, and life. The epidemiological data that has been acknowledged and accepted by the Government of Canada demonstrates that Canadians are losing their lives because of air pollution in this country. In light of the demonstrated viability of more effective approaches to air pollution than those currently being pursued by the Canadian Government, the Petitioners submit that Canada is violating this most core human right:

The right to life represents the most basic human rights doctrine, the essential and non-derogable prerequisite to the enjoyment of all other rights. Environmental problems that endanger life-directly or indirectly-implicate this core right. As stated by human rights scholar B.G. Ramcharan, "Threats to the environment or serious environmental hazards may threaten the lives of large groups of people directly; the connection between the right to life and the environment is an obvious one."

In addition to the unjustified loss of life, air pollution in Canada results in increased illness and disability. Thus once again, the failure of the Canadian government to do everything it can to prevent these impacts violates citizen's rights to health and security of the person.


Response

Ozone Annex and amendments to the 1991 Canada-United States Air Quality Agreement

Some factual clarifications are required to the information presented by the Petitioner (see above box). The Ozone Annex caps emissions of NO2 for the electricity sector in the Pollutant Emission Management Area (PEMA) of Ontario at 39 kilotonnes for 2007. The Ontario government enacted a trading regulation that caps the emissions of nitric oxide (NO) for the electricity sector in the PEMA at 24.6 kilotonnes by 2007 and enables 0.91 kilotonnes for renewables, for a total of 25.5 kilotonnes of NO emissions in the PEMA of Ontario. This is equivalent to 39 kilotonnes of NO2. Therefore, both caps are equivalent.

However, the Ontario trading regulation allows the capped electricity sector to use emissions reduction credits from uncapped sectors, and from allowances from the United States, to meet the cap. This particular feature of the regulation allows the 39-kilotonne cap to be exceeded by 33 per cent and means that, in 2007, actual emissions from the capped electricity sector could be higher than 39 kilotonnes.

The federal government is working with the government of Ontario to resolve this issue. The comments referred to in the Petition on the subject provide advice to Ontario on conditions that would enable the use of flexibility mechanisms like trading while still ensuring that Ontario's NOx emissions cap is at a level that complies with the Ozone Annex agreement; that any trading system implemented will respect the agreement; and that measurement, monitoring, reporting, and public data availability are as stringent and robust as required by the agreement.

The precautionary principle

The precautionary principle is an important concept that applies throughout the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA 1999). Through this Act, the Government of Canada is required to apply the precautionary principle, such that "... where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty shall not be used as a reason for postponing cost-effective measures to prevent environmental degradation."

In February 2001, the federal government launched a process to develop a broad federal position on the application of the precautionary principle. In November 2001, the Government of Canada released a discussion document, A Canadian Perspective on the Precautionary Approach/Principle, outlining proposed "guiding principles" to support overall consistency in using the precautionary approach in science-based risk decision making in government. Public consultations were held on the use of the precautionary principle in the spring of 2002. Since that time, the government has been considering next steps based on the stakeholder input. A final government position on the precautionary principle is expected in the spring of 2003.

The right to life

As noted above, the government has acknowledged, accepted, and, in some cases, gathered the data characterizing the effects of air pollution. It did this while conducting extensive assessments of the knowledge base on this subject. These assessments have been the prime motivator behind Government of Canada domestic and international actions and joining with the provinces to take additional actions.

2.5 Promoting Equity

Issue

2.5 Promoting Equity

The inadequate regulation of air pollution has a disproportionate impact on the most vulnerable segments of Canadian society-children, the elderly, and people with respiratory disabilities.

The Ontario Medical Association notes that:

Children represent the largest subgroup sensitive to adverse effects of air pollution due to: 1) differences in pulmonary anatomy and physiology (e.g., because of breathing patterns, small children are likely to inhale and retain greater quantities of particles per unit body weight than adults); 2) increased susceptibility to respiratory infections; and, 3) developmental susceptibility. Children are most at risk from exposure to ozone because they are active outside during the summertime when ozone levels are at their highest.

The elderly are also especially sensitive to air pollution. As the elderly population increases our population will become more prone to the health effects of air pollution.

Finally, people of any age who have respiratory or cardiovascular problems are at an increased risk of injury or death resulting from air pollution. As noted above, Health Canada acknowledges that air pollution exacerbates respiratory and cardiac illnesses and causes measurable increases in hospitalizations for these conditions.

Promoting equity means setting and enforcing environmental standards that protect the health of Canadian children, elders, and people with disabilities. At present, Canada is failing to achieve this objective.


Response

The submission points out that air pollution has a disproportionate impact on the most vulnerable segments of the population. Children are at greater risk because of both increased susceptibility and increased exposure. Those with cardiorespiratory conditions are also clearly at greater risk. The elderly are more likely to suffer from chronic cardiorespiratory conditions, and risk of death increases with age. However, it is not clear whether the healthy elderly are at greater risk from the effects of air pollution. There is some evidence that lower socio-economic status may also result in both greater exposure to air pollution and greater susceptibility to adverse effects on health.

Because of the variability of susceptibility of the population to air pollution, the analysis of statistical data has not been able to identify a lower threshold that could provide protection to the most susceptible Canadians. Thus, it is not possible to set standards that would provide the full protection requested by the Petition.


2.6 Appropriate Planning

Issue

2.6 Appropriate Planning

Ultimately, achieving clean air in Canada will require federal leadership in transitioning Canadian society towards a more sustainable model. The problem is multifaceted enough that it requires broad-based planning initiatives across departments in order to achieve a meaningful improvement in the quality of our air. To date, the Ministry of Environment has borne a disproportionate share of responsibility for addressing this problem. While that Ministry has made significant efforts in this regard, it will require the participation of other ministries and Cabinet in order to make meaningful gains. Since none of the permitting functions that automatically trigger the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act involve air issues, there is a need to incorporate advance consideration of air quality into planning outside the CEAA process.

In particular, planning and policy development in the following areas should take account of air quality considerations:

  • Transportation policy

  • Energy policy

  • Tax Policy

  • Fisheries

  • Health care

  • Research and development

  • Transfer funding to the provinces

Some of these areas may be surprising, but air pollution in fact has a significant impact on all of them. For example, as noted above, the major source of mercury pollution in the Great Lakes is air pollution, and mercury is the major cause of fisheries advisories in that region. Similarly, the acidification of fish-bearing lakes is largely caused by acid gas emissions. The Department of Fisheries and Oceans has up until now failed to appreciate the connection between fisheries and air pollution.

Similarly, given the very significant health impacts of existing air pollution, improving air quality in Canada should be viewed as an important preventative health strategy. Much like the campaigns aimed at reducing smoking or encouraging exercise and other positive lifestyle changes, Health Canada should consider public education campaigns geared at encouraging choices that reduce the burden on our air.


Response

Planning: Prevention

As previously indicated, the federal government has institutionalized environmental considerations in its decision making in order to prevent increases in pollution. In accordance with the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA) and the 1999 Cabinet Directive on the Environmental Assessment of Policy, Plan and Program Proposals, an assessment is required to determine likely environmental effects, including those on air quality, for any proposed projects, policies, plans, and programs slated for approval by Ministers or Cabinet. Decision making takes the results of the assessment into consideration.

Planning: Reduction

  • Federal government actions under its agenda to reduce air pollution have been presented in previous sections. To review: Work has been under way for a decade or more to improve air quality in Canada. The 10-year Clean Air Agenda was developed and launched in May 2000. It focuses on the five key areas of reducing transboundary, transportation and major industrial emissions, advancing science and engaging the public. In February 2001, the Minister of the Environment announced an investment of $120.2 million over four years to deliver on the Canadian Ozone Annex commitments. This has allowed Environment Canada to start the implementation of the Clean Air Agenda. Initiatives include regulations on new vehicles, engines, and fuels; a 10 year plan to reduce NOx emissions, in particular from the electricity sector, and VOC emissions from solvents and consumer products; joint analysis work program with the United States; improved monitoring and reporting on air quality so Canada can track air quality within 500 km of the border with the United States; and expanding the NPRI (Canada's only legislated, nationwide, publicly accessible inventory of pollutants released to the environment).

Transboundary emissions

The December 2000 Ozone Annex agreement with the United States commits Canada and the U.S. to a reduction of emissions of ground-level ozone precursors (NOx, VOCs). This will significantly reduce the flow of pollutants from the United States into Canada. In addition, in May 2001, Canada signed and ratified the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants aimed at reducing and eliminating the major international sources of these toxic substances.

Transportation sector emissions

The Government of Canada has placed a priority on developing common solutions that contribute to both air quality and climate change objectives.

Vehicle, engine, and fuel emissions:

Emissions from vehicles and engines are regulated under CEPA 1999. The Federal Agenda on Cleaner Vehicles, Engines and Fuels, published in February of 2001 in the Canada Gazette, Part I, outlines the government's comprehensive 10-year action plan (regulations, guidelines, studies) for on-road vehicles and engines, heavy-duty vehicle inspection and maintenance, off-road vehicles and engines, gasoline, and diesel fuel.

The On-Road Vehicle and Engine Emission Regulations align Canadian emission standards for on-road vehicles and engines with those of the U.S., generally recognized as the most stringent national standards in the world. Beginning with the 2004 model year, the proposed regulations will phase in more stringent emission standards for on-road vehicles and engines and will reduce allowable limits of smog-forming emissions by up to 90 per cent of current limits. At the same time, there will be fewer emissions of benzene, 1,3-butadiene, acetaldehyde, and acrolein, all of which are on the CEPA List of Toxic Substances (Figure 5). Emissions of formaldehyde, proposed for addition to the CEPA List of Toxic Substances, will also be reduced. The regulations were published in the Canada Gazette, Part II, on January 1, 2003.

The Sulphur in Diesel Fuel Regulations, published in 2002, complement the On-Road Vehicle and Engine Emission Regulations. Low-sulphur diesel fuel is required to enable the efficient operation of advanced exhaust emission control technologies needed to comply with new heavy-duty diesel on-road vehicle emission standards. These regulations set a maximum limit of 15 parts per million (ppm) sulphur for on-road diesel fuel, a 97 percent reduction relative to the current maximum of 500 ppm.

By the year 2020, it is estimated that the proposed On-Road Vehicle and Engine Emission Regulations in combination with the Sulphur in Diesel Fuel Regulations will result in reductions of emissions from the fleet of on-road vehicles of 74 percent for NOx, 14 percent for VOCs, 64 per cent for PM10, and 84 percent for SO2 relative to emissions reductions already achieved by current regulations and programs (Figure 6).

Initiatives on cleaner fuel to establish a limit for sulphur in off-road diesel (e.g., agricultural and construction equipment) and a comprehensive database on diesel fuel quality in order to monitor fuel quality are also being developed. These build upon earlier regulations requiring reductions of benzene and sulphur in gasoline and elimination of lead in gasoline.

New emission regulations are currently being developed for off-road engines, aligned with U.S. standards for gasoline utility engines, such as those used to power lawn and garden equipment; diesel engines, such as those used in construction and agricultural equipment; engines used to power recreational vehicles, such as snowmobiles, off-road motorcycles, and personal watercraft; and large spark-ignition engines, such as those used in industrial machines (e.g., forklifts).

The Government's Climate Change Plan for Canada also addresses air quality and urban congestion. The government is committed to designing a long-term, multi-modal strategic plan on transportation that addresses the challenges over the coming decade

In keeping with Speech from the Throne commitments on modern infrastructure and a new strategy for a safe, efficient and environmentally responsible transportation system, the Government of Canada proposes to place a greater emphasis on public transit in existing and future infrastructure funding. This would be done in conjunction with municipal efforts on transportation management and land-use planning frameworks, and significant provincial and territorial actions to increase demand for public transit and reduce single-occupant vehicle use.

Potential actions include mechanisms to give traffic priority to public transit, and strategic management of the supply and pricing of parking facilities and roads. Municipalities can also improve infrastructure for non-motorized transportation, through the creation of walking and biking paths.

Air, rail, and marine emissions:

Emissions from engines used to power air, rail, and larger diesel-powered marine vessels are regulated under other Acts of Parliament, such as CEPA 1999, the Aeronautics Act and the Canada Shipping Act. These sectors are addressed through international standards and, in the case of rail, through an agreement with the railways.

The international community, through the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), sets standards for aircraft emissions. The development of these standards brings together technology information from engine manufacturers, fleet planning information from air operators, and research on the impact of engine emissions on the atmosphere at both ground level and higher altitudes. In February 1999, ICAO approved changes to its regulations that will reduce NOx emission levels by 16 percent for engines first produced after December 31, 2003. Changes to ICAO regulations are implemented in Canada through the Canadian Aviation Regulations. The Government of Canada, through Transport Canada, participates on various working groups of ICAO focused on aviation and the environment, including technical working groups on emission technology, airport operations, and operational opportunities to reduce emissions and fuel use. Transport Canada has co-authored an international document to help industry better manage emissions, and has hosted an international workshop in this area.

The Railway Safety Act has been amended to provide the Minister of Transport with the authority to regulate emissions from the rail sector. Pending that amendment, a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the railway industry in 1995 capped the annual NOx emissions at 115,000 tonnes, approximately 10 percent of NOx emissions in the transportation sector. Consideration is now being given to ways to build on the MOU in the context of the new regulatory authority.

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has developed air pollution prevention regulations regarding ozone-depleting substances, NOx from diesel engines, shipboard incineration, and fuel oil quality. These regulations were adopted as a new annex to MARPOL 73/78, the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, in September 1997. They will come into effect when enough nations have agreed to the terms. The current target date for regulations to come into force is 2003. Changes to IMO regulations are implemented in Canada through the Canada Shipping Act, administered by Transport Canada.

Canada-wide Standards

In June 2000, the CWSs for PM and ozone were endorsed by the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME). These standards set new ambient targets for these two pollutants, to be achieved by the year 2010.

The federal government is working with provincial and territorial counterparts to gather mercury data and make it publicly available. This information on mercury releases from coal-fired electric power plants will be used by the CCME Canada-wide Standards Development Committee to determine appropriate mercury emission standards for the coal-fired electric power generation sector

Industrial sector emissions

To address emissions associated with industrial sectors, the government is working with provinces and stakeholders on multi-pollutant analysis for key sectors to support decisions on emissions reduction actions in jurisdictional plans on PM, ground-level ozone, and mercury. (With the exception of the electric power generation sector, mercury is not one of the pollutants that is being targeted in the multi-pollutant emissions reduction strategy).

Key industrial sectors (i.e., major emitters common to a number of jurisdictions) include electric power, iron and steel, base metals smelting, pulp and paper, concrete batch mix and asphalt mix plants, and lumber and allied wood products.

A regulatory action plan is currently being developed for reducing VOC emissions from the use of consumer and commercial products is currently being developed.

Federal guidelines for emissions from thermal power plants and clean power guidelines for new plants have been announced (e.g., a federal guideline for renewable electricity with low environmental impact has been issued for public comment). New guidelines are targeted to meet clean air and climate change emissions reduction targets as set out in agreements, treaties, and the CWSs.

Advancing the science

As part of its commitment to the Ozone Annex, Canada has continued to develop its monitoring network, now numbering 250 sites in 139 communities and several rural locations, for measuring the components of smog. The NAPS Network has been reviewed to ensure that it meets the needs for CWSs for PM and ozone, and the Ozone Annex. The NPRI has recently been expanded to include criteria air contaminants (NOx, VOCs, PM10, PM2.5, total particulate matter, SOx, CO). For more information on the Government of Canada's monitoring programs, refer to the section on "Protecting the Health of Canadians."

As previously mentioned, scientists in the Meteorological Service of Canada (MSC) at Environment Canada also study the science of the atmosphere. This research is focused on short-term events (weather), longer-term atmospheric conditions (climate) and air quality issues, such as acid rain, stratospheric ozone depletion and the resulting increase in ultraviolet radiation, ground-level ozone and particulate matter (smog), as well as hazardous air pollutants.

Scientists in Canada are continuing to develop the predictive capability to advise Canadians on tomorrows air quality as well as advise stakeholders on the impacts of current and potential reductions in emissions of air pollution across Canada. This continued improvement of the predictive capability is based on an increased understanding of the changing chemistry of the atmosphere resulting from research on the formation and distribution of air pollutants of concern.

Engaging the public

Canadians are being engaged through local summertime air quality forecasts in British Columbia, Ontario, Quebec, and Atlantic Canada, covering more than 60 per cent of the Canadian population, the Clean Air website, and public outreach programs, such as Clean Air Day and the Commuter Challenge.

Clean air - climate change linkages

Air pollution and climate change share common sources. The combustion of fossil fuels, prevalent in transportation, electric power generation, and oil and gas sectors, is responsible for 70 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions leading to climate change, and a significant portion of NOx, SOx, and PM emissions. Public outreach initiatives offer an important opportunity to pursue complementary approaches. Through individual, community, and industry leaders involved in the implementation of the Clean Air Agenda, linkages with climate change programs can be made.

For more information on the Government of Canada's efforts to reduce GHG emissions from the transportation sector, see Appendix I.

2.7 Pollution Prevention

Issue

2.7 Pollution Prevention

Many of the considerations already discussed bear on the need to prevent air pollution, rather than merely controlling existing emissions. Once again, to achieve progress in pollution prevention, Canada needs to actively encourage a shift away from inherently polluting industries, such as oil and gas, in favour of a more sustainable economy and society. This needs to be a multifaceted, multisectoral approach in which government, industry and individuals work together to achieve an environmentally sustainable economy. Leadership for this initiative needs to come from the Government of Canada.


Response

Sustainable development is central to the mandate of the four federal natural resources based departments, and essential to the future of the natural resources sector. In no other sector is this concept as meaningful or holds such promise for positive long-term outcomes. The wise use of natural resources enables the protection of Canadians' health, as well as the environment, and landmass, while meeting human needs for energy, forest, and mineral-based products, both now and for the future.

Under a Cabinet Directive, federal departments and agencies are required to incorporate environmental considerations into the development of policy, program, plan, or regulatory proposals. This process, known as Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA), is a systematic, ongoing process for evaluating environmental effects and consequences of any initiatives at the earliest appropriate stage of decision making. Over the last nine years, federal departments and agencies have applied SEA to the development of proposals. The 1990 Cabinet Directive was revised in 1999 to strengthen the role of SEA by clarifying the obligations of departments and agencies and linking environmental assessment to the implementation of sustainable development strategies.

Pollution prevention is the cornerstone of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA 1999). CEPA 1999 provides powers and tools to protect the environment and human health, and to contribute to sustainable development through pollution prevention. Specifically, the Act gives Environment Canada the authority to require a company or facility to prepare and implement a pollution prevention plan for a substance that has been added to Schedule 1 of the Act (List of Toxic Substances). Environment Canada may also request pollution prevention plans from Canadian sources of international air and water pollution.

Prior to CEPA 1999, the federal government published Pollution Prevention-A Federal Strategy for Action which entrenches our belief in pollution prevention as the most effective means of protecting the environment, eliminating costly wastes, and promoting sustainable development. Through this strategy, the federal government committed itself to the implementation of pollution prevention within its own government operations, cooperative pollution prevention activities with other levels of government and industry, and the demonstration of leadership and innovative pollution prevention actions with all Canadians, as well as with the international community.

A more detailed explanation of other Government of Canada programs can be found in other sections of the federal government's response to the Petition.

2.8 Respecting Nature and the Needs of Future Generations

Issue

2.8 Respecting Nature and the Needs of Future Generations

In addition to the very significant impact of air pollution on human health in Canada, as demonstrated above, the contamination of our air is also affecting the integrity of ecosystems. In extreme cases, air emissions have caused and are continuing to cause the death of some lakes. Similarly, the emission of mercury and other persistent air toxics will result in the contamination of our environment for generations to come. Thus, it is clear that the Canadian government's failure to adequately regulate air pollution is not in keeping with this aspect of sustainable development.


Response

Sustainable development and air pollution regulation

Regulation is not the only response to address air pollution. There is also subjectivity in what constitutes an "adequate" response. Canada has taken responsible and proactive measures alone and in partnership with other jurisdictions to control the pollution that causes acidification and smog, has used its authority under CEPA 1999 to assess and control toxic pollutants and heavy metals, and has led international efforts to address toxic pollution that harms Canada. International fora have been a focal point for these actions, including the United Nations Environment Programme, the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, and the North American Free Trade Agreement Commission for Environmental Cooperation. While there is still work to do, Canada's government has acted responsibly to protect the environment and sustain it for future generations.

3.0 Transboundary Contributions

Issue

3.0 A note about transboundary contributions

The Petitioners acknowledge that in some regions of Canada, a significant proportion of ambient air pollution results from emissions originating in the United States, and it may be argued that the Government of Canada should not be held accountable for the activities of another state.

The Petitioners assert that, notwithstanding the actions of foreign states, the Government of Canada has a legal duty to do everything within its power to ensure reasonable air quality in the country. This would include effective reduction of domestic emissions in the short term, economic and transportation policy that will encourage greater reductions in the future, and concerted efforts at the international level to encourage our neighbour to the South to reduce its own emissions. As long as Canada is failing to do its utmost to reduce domestic air emissions, its international bargaining position will remain weak. It should also be noted that emissions from some parts of Canada contribute to air pollution in the northeast United States.


Response

Recently, the governments of Canada and the United States announced a joint commitment to build on the transborder air quality improvements of the last decade by developing new cooperative projects for the years ahead. This initiative is early action on the Speech from the Throne commitment to work with the United States to further improve air quality and to work for a healthy environment. The Government of Canada will work with the United States to identify appropriate pilot projects in consultation with states, provinces, and local governments. These projects will serve as a foundation for developing new strategies to improve air quality and address transboundary air pollution of concern to Canadians and Americans.

Response to Recommendations

4.0 Recommendations

Ambient standards

Recommendation

Canada should immediately enact binding national ambient air quality standards with effective enforcement mechanisms.

Ambient standards should be set at levels that provide meaningful protection for children, the elderly, and people with respiratory illnesses.


Response

Since the early 1970s, Canada's NAAQOs have prescribed targets for air quality. These are national goals for outdoor air quality established by a working group of federal, provincial, and territorial environment and health department representatives to protect public health, the environment, or aesthetic properties of the environment. These goals were used by federal, provincial, territorial, and municipal governments to implement air quality management strategies and standards.

In January 1998, Canadian Environment Ministers (with the exception of Quebec) signed the Canada-wide Accord on Environmental Harmonization and its sub-agreement on CWSs. The CWSs are ambient air quality standards to be achieved at an agreed-upon future date.

Recognizing that both NAAQOs and CWSs have a role to play in the management of air quality, the NAAQO and CWS processes were integrated by federal, provincial, and territorial health and environment departments. At present, air pollutants identified by governments as requiring management will be targeted for either CWS or NAAQO development.

Environment Ministers identified PM and ozone as a priority for CWSs in January 1998, and signed the Standards in June 2000. The agreement was an important step toward the long-term goal of minimizing the risks of these pollutants to human health and the environment. They represent a balance between achieving the best health and environmental protection possible, and the feasibility and costs of reducing emissions. The end result will be significant reductions in the effect of PM and ozone on human health and the environment.

The ambient CWS for PM2.5 is 30 µg/m3, 24-hour averaging time, by year 2010, and the ambient CWS for ozone is 65 ppb, 8-hour averaging time, also by 2010.

Use of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act

Recommendation

The federal Minister of Environment should use his existing power under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA) to designate more air pollutants as toxic substances and require that effective pollution prevention plans be put in place to prevent and control the release of these contaminants.


Response

Air pollutants are being designated as toxic substances under CEPA 1999 when scientific assessments indicate such action is warranted.

To effectively reduce the levels of PM10 and ground-level ozone, the emissions that contribute to smog formation must be reduced. Following scientific assessment, PM10, ozone, and the precursors to these smog substances have been proposed for addition to the List of Toxic Substances (Schedule 1) of CEPA 1999.

On May 9, 2001, the federal government published a final Order in the Canada Gazette, Part II, adding PM10 to the List of Toxic Substances. On July 27, 2002, the federal government published a draft Order in the Canada Gazette, Part I, recommending the addition of the precursors to PM10 (SO2, NOx, gaseous ammonia, and VOCs) and ozone and its precursors (VOCs and NOx) to the List of Toxic Substances. This puts the legal backing in place to take the action required to meet federal domestic commitments on clean air.

The federal government is committed to working with the provinces and territories to achieve the CWSs for PM and ozone in order to minimize the risks of these pollutants to human health and the environment. Action is expected to be taken by the jurisdiction best situated. While the federal government may be best situated to act in some cases, many of the actions required are expected to be implemented by the provinces and territories.

In April 2001, the federal government outlined some of its priorities to improve air quality in its Interim Plan 2001 on Particulate Matter and Ozone. The Interim Plan set out measures such as the 10-year agenda for cleaner vehicles, engines, and fuels (to align standards with those of the United States), an upgraded air monitoring network across Canada, and an expanded NPRI to ensure more reporting of emissions.

Recommendation

Further, the federal Minister of Environment can and should act on his own comments to the Ontario government and intervene to prevent trans-boundary air pollution under section 166 of CEPA. In particular, the Minister can and should use his s. 166 authority to shut down the largest single point-source of air pollution in Canada, the Nanticoke coal-fired generating station in Ontario. Indeed, given the very severe pollution associated with coal-fired generation, Canada should make every effort to phase out coal-fired generation in the very near future and replace it with efficiency measures and electricity from renewable sources.


Response

In 2000, Canada and the United States signed the Ozone Annex and amendments to the 1991 Canada-United States Air Quality Agreement. The Ozone Annex commits the United States and Canada to a number of actions to control the NOx and VOC emissions that cause the formation of ground-level ozone and smog.

One of the actions is to cap the emissions of NO2 from the electricity sector in the Pollutant Emission Management Area (PEMA) of Ontario at 39 kilotonnes for 2007. The Minister of the Environment continues a long-standing and open dialogue with the Province of Ontario to ensure that Canada meets its Ozone Annex commitment. CEPA 1999 gives authority to the Minister of the Environment to take action if emissions from Canada violate an international agreement. Such an action is possible if Ontario does not help to ensure that Canada meets its commitment. In such a situation, CEPA 1999 does not give the authority to regulate the phase-out of Nanticoke, but it enables the implementation of a hard cap.

With respect to stationary sources of NOx emissions, the Ozone Annex also requires Canada to reduce its emissions in accordance with the proposed national guideline under section 54 of CEPA 1999, respecting renewable low-impact electricity. Canada has proceeded toward finalizing the Guideline on Renewable Low-Impact Electricity through public consultations in 2002. The Guideline is expected to be issued under CEPA 1999 early in 2003 and will provide national guidance on environmentally preferable electricity products and generation in support of developing "green power" markets in Canada. It will also establish clear criteria for environmental labelling of qualifying electricity products under the Government of Canada's Environmental Choice Program. The Government of Canada has committed to purchase, by 2006, 20 per cent (or approximately 450 gigawatt-hours) of its electricity consumption as qualifying low-impact renewable power having an acceptable environmental certification such as under the Environmental Choice Program. Developing green power markets will reduce a broad range of emissions commonly found in association with electricity generation using fossil fuels.

Emission standards

Recommendation

Rather than adopting federal U.S. Tier 2 standards, Canada should instead implement California's LEV II program, in line with California timing.


Response

Emissions from new on-road motor vehicles were regulated by Transport Canada under the Motor Vehicle Safety Act from the early 1970s to 2000. During this period, standards were progressively tightened. By 2000, emissions of regulated pollutants were reduced by up to 98 per cent for light-duty vehicles from pre-control days. Further reductions are underway by Environment Canada through MOUs for low-emission vehicles and through regulation of Tier 2 standards beginning in 2004.

The government published a comprehensive 10-year Federal Agenda on Cleaner Vehicles, Engines and Fuels on February 17, 2001, in Canada Gazette, Part I, setting out a plan of measures to reduce emissions from vehicles and engines. The agenda was developed through an extensive consultation process with a broad range of stakeholders.

The Federal Agenda is designed to build on established policy of aligning with U.S. federal emission standards and test procedures, considered to be the most stringent national emission standards in the world. This approach allows Canada to benefit from the U.S. EPA's emission certification process and will result in significant cost savings for Canadian companies, the federal government, and Canadian consumers.

As set out in the Agenda, Environment Canada is developing, under Part 7, Division 5, of CEPA 1999, new regulations to reduce emissions from a broad range of on-road and off-road vehicles and engines. These regulations will align Canada's regulated emission standards with those of the U.S. EPA.

On-Road Vehicle and Engine Emission Regulations were published in the Canada Gazette, Part II, on January 3, 2003 introducing more stringent national emission standards for on-road vehicles and engines, to be phased in beginning in the 2004 model year.

In 1995, the Task Force on Cleaner Vehicles and Fuels, working under the CCME, reviewed options for a national approach to new vehicle emission standards, including the adoption of California emission standards. In its evaluation of possible control options for new vehicles, the Task Force found that continuing to align Canada's national vehicle emission standards with stringent U.S. federal standards represented the preferred approach, as it would provide Canada with the most effective emission control technology available to reduce emissions in a cost-effective way.

Similarly, in January 2000, a report for the Clean Transportation Analysis Project Steering Committee (B.C. Clean Transportation Analysis Project) concluded that "future vehicles conforming to the [U.S. federal] Tier 2 standard will eventually lower emissions from the BC motor vehicle fleet considerably (particularly SUVs and light- and medium-duty trucks). Implementing the California LEV II standards would produce relatively small incremental emission reduction benefits at a cost per tonne of pollutants in a range that is generally considered not cost effective."

The U.S. EPA is putting into place programs that will, for the next decade and beyond, result in emission control technology comparable with California's for new light, medium and heavy-duty vehicles.

Recommendation

Canada could improve on LEV II standards by increasing the full vehicle useful life to the more realistic figure of 250,000 km (155,000 miles - The LEV II standard is 120,000 miles [193,000 km]).


Response

The recently published On-Road Vehicle and Engine Emission Regulations extend the useful life period for which emission standards apply to light vehicles from the current 160,000 km to 193,000 km. This is consistent with the approach in both the U.S. federal and California programs.

Recommendation

Canada should legislate interim emission standards to replace current negotiated interim standards. Interim standards should be based on California's LEV I standards instead of the current NLEV standards, so as to include larger SUVs.


Response

Interim low-emission vehicle standards (2001-2003 model years) for light-duty vehicles and light-duty trucks are currently in place under an MOU in Canada and under a similar voluntary program in the United States. The On-Road Vehicle and Engine Emission Regulations put in place regulated vehicle emissions standards, beginning in the 2004 model year, that are more stringent than those under the MOU.

Recommendation

Inspection and maintenance programs for on-road vehicles should be expanded beyond the Lower Fraser Valley in British Columbia and southern Ontario; the threshold for waivers should be raised so as to reduce the number of vehicles granted waivers sufficiently to lower HC and NOx levels by a further 5 percent.


Response

The scope of this recommendation is beyond the purview of the federal government, as in-use programs for vehicles, such as Inspection/Maintenance (I/M) programs, fall under provincial jurisdiction. The federal government has taken a leadership role in working with the provinces and the CCME to develop a code of practice for I/M programs for light-duty vehicles. Similarly, a code of practice for heavy-duty vehicles is now in the process of being finalized. On-board diagnostic requirements regulated by the federal government bridge the gap to I/M programs and can conceivably replace inspection programs at some point.

Recommendation

Canada should introduce regulation in 2002 to implement the U.S. EPA 2004 emission and 2007 supplementary test standards for heavy-duty vehicles by 2003.


Response

The On-Road Vehicle and Engine Emission Regulations include provisions to align Canadian emission requirements, including allowable emission limits and test procedures, for heavy-duty vehicles and engines with the more stringent U.S. standards for the 2004 and 2007 model years.

Recommendation

Canadian provinces (particularly Ontario, B.C. and Quebec, which have large urban populations and significant urban pollution) should bring in requirements for urban bus fleets similar to the California urban bus regulation.


Response

The scope of this recommendation falls under provincial jurisdiction. The Government of Canada encourages initiatives that will further protect the health and environment of Canadians.

Fuel content

Recommendation

(a) The timing of required reductions in sulphur content in gasoline to 30 ppm should be aligned with increased car and light truck emission standards in 2004.


Response

Sulphur in Gasoline Regulations to limit the amount of sulphur in gasoline were passed on June 23, 1999. Starting in 2005, low sulphur gasoline with an average sulphur level of less than 30 ppm will be required throughout Canada. As an interim step, gasoline with an average sulphur level of not more than 150 ppm is required as of 2002. The final target is one of the world's most stringent in its level and timing, and represents a greater than 90 percent reduction in sulphur levels. The regulations take into account the time that is required to plan, design, construct, and test the new equipment that many refiners are required to install.

Recommendation

(b) . . . and should include penalties for refiners who fail to comply.


Response

Penalties (fines, imprisonment) are in place under CEPA 1999.

Recommendation

(c) A further reduction to 15 ppm should be mandatory by 2006.


Response

There are no plans at this time to regulate further reductions of sulphur in gasoline.

Recommendation

Off-road diesel sulphur standards should be harmonized with on-road content requirements - so as to reduce pollution problems and the possibility of the transfer of the dirtier fuel to the transport sector.


Response

Off-road diesel fuel was addressed in the government's Notice of Intent on Cleaner Vehicles, Engines and Fuels. Environment Canada plans to recommend a regulation establishing a limit for sulphur in off-road diesel fuel. The limit is to be established in the same time frame as the U.S. EPA plans for developing limits for sulphur in off-road diesel fuel.


Recommendation

Following the European example, Canada should consider reducing taxes on low sulphur fuels in the order of $0.07 per litre to expedite their introduction into the market. Increased taxes on high sulphur fuels should also be introduced to offset revenue losses. These tax changes should be eliminated when the sulphur content has been reduced in all fuels.

Response

Although economic instruments described in the European example are worthy of attention and close analysis, these instruments may not necessarily be appropriate in the Canadian circumstance. To date, the federal government has relied on regulatory measures to reduce sulphur levels in fuels. Environment Canada announced regulations in October  998 to reduce the sulphur content in gasoline to an average level of 30 ppm by 2005. In the Federal Agenda on Cleaner Vehicles, Engines and Fuels, published in February 2001, it was further announced that new regulations would be developed to reduce the level of sulphur in diesel fuel used in on-road vehicles to a maximum of 15 ppm, commencing in June 2006. In addition, the Government of Canada's Federal Agenda on Cleaner Vehicles, Engines and Fuels includes plans to regulate sulphur levels in off-road diesel fuel. As indicated in the Agenda, measures to reduce the level of sulphur in both light and heavy fuel oils used in stationary facilities to match the requirements set by the European Union for full implementation by 2008 are currently being considered.

Recommendation

Companies should be required to post at gas stations the sulfur level of the fuel they are marketing.


Response

Labelling of fuels at retail outlets could provide consumers with information on fuel composition for their purchasing decisions. However, it is impractical to label gasoline sulphur levels at the pump, as levels routinely vary from one shipment to another. It would be costly and time consuming to require retailers either to sample and test each shipment or to implement a product transfer document system to record the characteristics of a batch of fuel as it moves through the distribution system. Post-2004, all Canadian gasoline must meet the 30 ppm average / 80 ppm maximum limits under the Sulphur in Gasoline Regulations. For these reasons, the federal government is not considering the implementation of product labelling requirements at gasoline pumps.

Fuel efficiency and greenhouse gases

Recommendation

The Canadian government should enact mandatory fuel standards, with penalties for non-compliance, beginning with a 4.3 litres per 100 km standard for passenger cars (and a similar standard for light trucks) by 2006. Standards should continue [to] be progressively tightened from this point. Mandatory legislated fuel efficiency standards should also be introduced for heavy-duty vehicles.

Canada should put in place binding reductions in CO2 emissions from new car fleets (e.g., a 50 percent reduction by 2006) and develop a timeline for continued reductions. Similar steps should be taken with larger vehicles.


Response

The Petition calls for cutting fuel consumption of passenger cars in half by 2006 (from the current 8.6 L/100 km to 4.3 L/100 km). The Petition also recommends reducing carbon dioxide emissions from new car fleets by 50 percent by 2006. These two recommendations are essentially the same and are treated together.

The government's voluntary fuel consumption program for new vehicles was initiated in the late 1970s, as an alternative to proclamation of the Motor Vehicle Fuel Consumption Standards Act (1981). Motor vehicle manufacturers agreed to meet voluntary annual company average fuel consumption (CAFC) targets, matching U.S. mandatory standards, for new automobiles sold in Canada. The program is administered by Transport Canada, in partnership with Natural Resources Canada. The fuel efficiency of the new vehicle fleet has more than doubled since the program was implemented.

CAFC calculates a sales-weighted average fuel consumption for all new model year light vehicles that are sold by each company. In 2002, the target goal for passenger cars was 8.6 L/100 km and 11.4 L/100 km for light trucks, while the average fuel consumption performance was 7.9 L/100 km for passenger cars and 11.1 L/100 km for light trucks.

In the Climate Change Plan for Canada, released on November 21, 2002, the Government of Canada renews its commitment to working with automotive manufacturers to develop a new fleet efficiency goal. The government's objective is to improve light-duty vehicle fuel efficiency by 25 percent by 2010. To assist consumers in making the best environmental choices, the government will enhance public information programs. A new vehicle ranking system, similar to the ENERGY STAR® system currently used on consumer appliances, will be introduced and could provide information on the "carbon burden," or life cycle carbon emissions, from different vehicles. Targeted campaigns will also be considered to reduce fuel use by improving vehicle maintenance and modifying driving practices.

Transport Canada manages the Advanced Technology Vehicles Program (ATVP) as part of this initiative. Under this program, available or soon-to-be-available advanced vehicles and technologies are being evaluated to determine their impact on safety, energy efficiency, and the environment. The sustainability of Canada's transportation system relies on the reduction of air emissions from transportation sources and the development of cleaner transportation systems, practices, and technologies. Vehicles with advanced powertrains, materials, chassis designs, emission controls, fuels, and other technologies are poised for introduction over the next decade. The ATVP will ensure that Transport Canada is ready to match the pace of technological change with programs that facilitate the introduction and use of clean, safe, and efficient advanced technology vehicles.

Transport Canada also supports the research and development of alternative fuel vehicles through the Transportation Development Centre (TDC) in Montreal, Quebec. For example, the TDC has long been active in the area of electric vehicles and has ongoing funding for a number of demonstrations of this technology. The department, as part of its commitment to reduce GHG emissions from federal operations, annually measures its GHG emissions. It is also converting its fleet, where possible, to alternative fuel technology.

The petition proposes a more rapid change in new motor vehicle fuel consumption. Such a rapid reduction raises the following issues:

  • Technologies that would be required to reduce CO2 emissions by 50 per cent, such as high-voltage hybrid drive vehicles or advanced diesel combined with major weight reduction technology, would not be available in sufficient quantities or at reasonable cost for implementation by manufacturers in the North American market within the time allowed (by 2006) - or indeed for several years beyond that. It is important for these technologies to be cost-effective for consumers, based on fuel savings over the life of the vehicle.

  • The amount of lead time available by the 2006 date proposed in the Petition is much too short to expect implementation of major technology changes. Manufacturers make major changes to their models at several-year intervals, and often longer for some vehicles. Forcing early changes by 2006 would result in retirement of production capital equipment and unacceptable costs.

  • The potential for fuel consumption improvement has been studied carefully in the recent report from the U.S. National Research Council entitled "Effectiveness and Impact of Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) Standards," as well as in a study by Sierra Research Inc. for the Transportation Issues Table of Canada's National Climate Change Consultation Process. These studies produced cost curves for technologies that can be used to substantiate the cost-effectiveness of improvements in fuel consumption of up 25 percent within a 10- to 15-year period. The Government's Climate Change Plan for Canada includes an initiative to work with industry to achieve a 25 percent improvement in new fuel consumption that is based on this and similar analyses.

The Petition also proposes mandatory fuel efficiency standards for heavy-duty vehicles. This is a complex issue.

The main difficulties that arise with designing fair heavy-duty vehicle fuel efficiency standards include the very wide variation in the specification of heavy-duty vehicles according to their intended use. Vehicle chassis are assembled by a large number of manufacturers using engines and transmissions ordered from different suppliers. These finished chassis are then often fitted with different bodies from numerous other manufacturers. Fuel efficiency standards must depend on representative duty cycles for vehicles so that meaningful comparisons can be made between finished vehicles. The multiple uses of heavy-duty vehicles make it difficult to reach agreement on representative driving cycles that would cover the multiple designs of heavy-duty vehicles.

Regulators have used engine dynamometer testing on a duty cycle that covers a range of different operating conditions for criteria reduction programs. While this is an adequate procedure for emission measurements, it is only of limited use for fuel efficiency purposes. Comparisons of fuel consumption of engines on dynamometers would yield results that are not representative of results measured on entire vehicles. However, given the relatively high efficiency of modern heavy-duty diesel engines and the high interest by buyers in obtaining the best fuel efficiency, it could be argued there is little need for fuel efficiency standards for these vehicles. The preferred approach of government in this area has been to support research, such as combustion, materials, and fuels research, that engine manufacturers can use to improve efficiency and reduce emissions.

Recommendation

Governments should implement feebate and/or gas-guzzler taxes that apply differentially across the range of vehicles according to fuel efficiency. This should be accompanied by a campaign to publicize these measures.


Response

The federal government has a number of policy instruments at its disposal for accomplishing its goals for the environment (e.g., direct spending and regulation). For that reason, the government will continue to assess tax measures, such as those identified, within the full array of measures at its disposal, and to identify the merits of all approaches that could be used to achieve its objectives.

In 1999, the Transportation Issues Table of Canada's Climate Change Consultation Process studied the potential of a "feebate" system to help reduce GHG emissions. The system studied was revenue-neutral, with the fees and rebates adjusted periodically to reflect overall improvements in the new vehicles available. The Table's work found that this approach could generate moderate fuel efficiency improvements, but that there were difficulties associated with administration, the prediction of market response, and the differential impact on manufacturers. Moreover, given the relatively small size of the Canadian vehicle market, the cost of such an initiative could be high if not delivered in harmony with the United States. There is no actual experience in North America with feebates at the level and scale required to judge their effectiveness, and the Table felt that more analysis of this approach was required before it could recommend it as a promising measure.

Transportation planning

Recommendation

In general federal transportation grants should be tied to sustainable transportation policies which prioritize the prevention of air pollution. Meaningful federal funding should be provided to establish, maintain and improve public transit systems.


Response

Responding to the related transportation issues of congestion, air pollution, and climate change is one of the most critical environmental, social, and economic issues that Canada faces today. It is a complex and difficult task, with no easy solutions, and it requires consideration of current transportation practices of people and goods, and the impacts they have on the environment. The government's goal is to help achieve a transportation system that is safe, secure, cost-effective, and environmentally responsible. A more integrated and efficient transportation system in cities is not only key to long-term economic competitiveness, but also beneficial to the environment.

Federal funding is being made available to establish, maintain, and improve public transit systems. As part of its commitment to Canada's growth and the quality of life of all Canadians, the Government of Canada launched Infrastructure Canada. In partnership with provincial, territorial, and local governments, First Nations, and the private sector, Infrastructure Canada helps to renew and build infrastructure in rural and urban municipalities across Canada.

Infrastructure Canada's first priority is green municipal infrastructure - projects that improve the quality of the environment and contribute to national goals of clean air and water. Other program priorities include aspects of public transit, such as local transportation, roads, and bridges. The program is operated by the Office of Infrastructure of Canada. More information on the government's infrastructure programs is available at http://www.infrastructurecanada.gc.ca.

For example, on April 26, 2002, the Minister of Transport announced up to $76 million in funding for the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC). This investment by the federal government, through the Infrastructure Canada Program, allows the TTC to proceed with its 10-year capital modernization and improvement program. The program includes enhancements to public and employee safety and increases to system efficiency. On October 4, 2002, the federal government announced a contribution of $8.6 million towards the Edmonton South Light Rail Transit Extension. This funding was also provided through the Infrastructure Canada Program, which provides $2.05 billion in funding for municipal infrastructure in Canada over six years.

The federal government recognizes the need for additional support for strategic infrastructure projects. To address these needs, the federal government announced the creation of the Canada Strategic Infrastructure Fund arising from Budget 2001, committing a minimum of $2 billion to the program. Transit infrastructure is eligible for funding under this program.

See the earlier section on Appropriate Planning for information regarding the Government of Canada's Climate Change Plan, which proposes to place a greater emphasis on public transit in existing and future infrastructure funding.

Urban Transportation Showcase Program:

While responsibility for urban transit rests with provincial/territorial and municipal governments, the federal government is committed to working closely with these partners to help ensure the best transportation systems possible. Transport Canada is in the process of establishing pilot projects in urban municipalities across Canada through the Urban Transportation Showcase Program (UTSP), in partnership with other levels of government. The UTSP will test and demonstrate opportunities to cost-effectively reduce GHG emissions from urban transportation and will identify co-benefits of various strategies for related clean air and congestion objectives.

Under the UTSP, selected municipalities will receive up to $10 million from Transport Canada over five years to implement different projects in response to varying local priorities, existing initiatives, and transportation plans. The funded showcases might include, but will not be limited to:

  • transportation demand management measures, such as trip reduction projects promoting the use of carpooling, vanpooling, telecommuting, cycling, or walking;

  • vehicle use measures, such as vehicle inspection and maintenance programs;

  • innovative land use and economic measures, such as the promotion of mixed-use or higher-density land uses or parking management strategies;

  • community outreach measures, such as improving the understanding of travel impacts on social and natural environments; and

  • low-cost infrastructure measures, such as the designation of high-occupancy vehicle lanes in commuting corridors.

More information on this program is available at http://www.tc.gc.ca/programs/environment/menu.htm.

VIA Rail:

Transport Canada has been working with the City of Toronto and VIA Rail to restore and redevelop Union Station, with a federal commitment of up to $35 million, including $10 million from VIA Rail. The project began in 2001, with a completion date of December 2007.

Transport Canada is also working with VIA Rail on extending its services. VIA Rail is preparing to implement a strategy to increase services from outer-urban communities to the Greater Toronto Area, to establish partnerships with commuter rail agencies in Toronto, Montreal, and Ottawa, and to examine the extension of commuter links to Barrie and Peterborough.

Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS):

Canada's transportation system needs to be modernized and optimized to achieve the high level of mobility now in demand. The Minister of Transport announced on March 13, 2002, that the Government of Canada has committed approximately $3.7 million to 17 cost-shared projects under Transport Canada's Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) Deployment and Integration Plan, of which $1.25 million is for transit-related projects. ITS can transform the way in which the transportation system is built, managed and operated. ITS include advanced systems for public transit, traffic management, traveler information and vehicle control, commercial vehicle and fleet management, and rural transportation. They also include the application of advanced technologies, including information processing, communications, and sensing and control. These systems help make Canada's transportation system safer, more efficient, productive, and environmentally responsible.

The Prime Minister's Caucus Task Force on Urban Issues released its interim report in May 2002 and its final report in November 2002. The report makes several recommendations with respect to transportation, including a national transportation program and will be useful in identifying ways for the government to continue building on past efforts with municipal and provincial partners in the area of urban transportation.

Sustainable Transportation Research Program:

Transport Canada's Sustainable Transportation Research Program, an internal research program driven by Transport Canada's SDS, includes a number of studies and research projects that will help the department meet commitments under its 2001-2003 Sustainable Development Strategy, fill analytical gaps that were identified during the work of the Transportation Issues Table of Canada's Climate Change Consultation Process, and contribute to a national perspective on key sustainable transportation issues. Many of these initiatives focus on aspects of urban transportation, including the measurement and costs of congestion, the costs and impacts of increased transit ridership, and the development of sustainable transportation indicators. Initiatives under the Program that relate to this Petition include:

  • Costs of congestion in Canada's transportation system: Transport Canada has commissioned an in-depth analysis of traffic congestion, including ways to better define and measure congestion. In this regard, the department will gather estimates of congestion for major urban centres in Canada. This will be achieved through the development of an urban congestion index for major urban areas in Canada that could be used to raise public awareness about traffic congestion. In addition, the study will develop a comprehensive analytical framework to assess the cost of congestion for major urban areas in Canada.

  • Welfare cost study: An important component of more sustainable transportation decision making is understanding the non-monetary or "welfare" cost implications of transportation initiatives. The study will examine various approaches and methodologies of social cost assessment and develop a framework, including a risk analysis module, for quantifying the effects and costs of various road transportation GHG abatement measures.

  • Sustainable transportation indicators: Transport Canada is working in close cooperation with the Centre for Sustainable Transportation, Environment Canada, and other federal departments and organizations (i.e., National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy and the Transport Association of Canada, or TAC) to develop a set of indicators to assess Canada's progress towards sustainable transportation. The final report is expected to be available in fall of 2003.

  • Urban transportation indicators: To enhance our capacity to measure national progress towards more sustainable urban transportation, Transport Canada is working with TAC to support its efforts to develop a consistent and reliable database of urban transportation indicators for Canadian municipalities. TAC has already begun contacting municipalities to gather information from 27 Canadian municipalities for its 2002-2003 survey

  • Urban transit studies: Three studies on transit commissioned by Transport Canada in 2001 will also contribute to a better understanding of the current Canadian situation and provide a basis for future initiatives aimed at a more sustainable urban transportation system. These studies build on the work of the Transportation Issues Table of Canada's Climate Change Consultation Process (Transportation and Climate Change: Options for Action) and the Canada Transportation Act review panel. The studies, which were publicly released on March 26, 2002, are the

    • National Vision for Transit in Canada to 2020, by IBI Group, an analysis of long-term trends, international case studies, and existing municipal vision statements and proposes targets for urban transit ridership

    • Urban Transit in Canada -Taking Stock, by McCormick Rankin Corp., describing the current state of the Canadian transit industry and historic trends in provincial and municipal funding of urban transit and assesses its future needs; an

    • Economic Study to Establish a Cost-Benefit Framework for the Evaluation of Various Types of Transit Investments, by HLB Decision Economics Inc., providing an analytical framework to assess transit investments.

      The transit studies provide a foundation for ongoing dialogue with the provinces, municipalities, and key stakeholders. The immediate next step is to pilot test the cost-benefit model in a handful of cities to examine outcomes, before promoting wider use. These pilots are now under way. Once we have gained sufficient experience with the model and evaluated the model's training requirements, the model will be made publicly available. It will make an important contribution to cost-effective investments in transit infrastructure.

Transport Canada is commissioning an in-depth follow-up study of the costs and GHG impacts of a range of urban transportation measures, with an emphasis on urban transit investment. The study will more precisely estimate the costs and impacts of achieving a range of transit ridership targets by analyzing individual urban transportation networks.

Recommendation

The federal Government should amend the Income Tax Act to either treat free parking as a taxable employee benefit or provide an exemption for transit bonuses.


Response

Employer-provided parking spaces that benefit the employee are already considered to be a taxable employment benefit under the Income Tax Act, subject to the principle that all compensation paid to employees should be taxed consistently, whether paid as salary or as in-kind benefits.

The Canada Customs and Revenue Agency calculates the benefit as the fair market value of the parking space, where this can reasonably be established, less any payments made by the employee for the use of the parking space.

Tax relief for public transportation costs was proposed in Private Members' Bill C-209, and reviewed by the Standing Committee on Finance in the spring of 2002. The Committee identified a number of concerns that also apply to the current proposal for a tax exemption for transit bonuses (assuming that the bonus is an employer-paid subsidy on employees' transit passes). Those key concerns relate to efficiency and fairness.

Efficiency considerations address the extent to which an employer subsidy could be expected to encourage employees to switch to public transit. Individuals consider several factors such as accessibility, reliability and comfort in making transportation choices. A recent Statistics Canada study indicated that the use of public transit is relatively insensitive to the cost to users. A report commissioned by the Transportation Table of the National Climate Change Process indicated that ridership could increase from 10 percent to 35 percent. Correspondingly, even under the most optimistic scenario, approximately 75 percent of the tax benefits would accrue to existing transit users. Finally, even under generous assumptions regarding employer participation and increased transit use, the federal-provincial revenue cost per new rider would exceed the average cost of transit pass.

In terms of fairness, the proposal also raises a number of considerations namely: the lack of relief for individuals already using environmentally friendly modes of transit and, for retirees, students and the unemployed who would continue to purchase transit out of after-tax dollars.

The energy sector

Recommendation

The federal Government should institute a national sustainable energy policy that prioritizes the environment and human health.


Response

Natural Resources Canada's Sustainable Development Strategy states that today's energy needs must be addressed without compromising either the environment or the ability of future generations to meet their needs. Canadian energy policy is market based and oriented towards sustainable development. Energy policy in Canada reflects a balance of:

  • an economically competitive and innovative sector that contributes to the wealth of our society;

  • a secure, reliable, and safe supply of energy for all;

  • energy production and use that respect the environment and are sustainable for future generations; and

  • acting responsibly within the community of nations to resolve global issues.

The Government of Canada cannot ignore the important role played by the energy sector in the Canadian economy, both as a driver of economic growth (some 6.5 per cent of gross domestic product) and as an essential input to improving the quality of life for Canadians through the provision of heat, light, refrigeration, and motive power. The energy sector is also an important source of employment for Canadians. Over 220,000 people rely on the energy sector directly for their jobs. The approach to energy and sustainable development is to build on the strength of markets while addressing their limitations, such as environmental impacts, through targeted interventions. Canadian governments use a variety of policy instruments to promote energy efficiency and environmental stewardship, as well as address health issues, at all stages of energy production and use.

Recommendation

The federal Government should work with provinces that have traditionally relied heavily on the oil and gas industry to develop new sustainable economies that do not rely on these polluting industries.


Response

The Government of Canada does not regard the various sources of energy produced in Canada as inherently good or inherently bad. Rather, it seeks to encourage a wider range of energy options, all of which should be assessed and compared against the criteria of sustainable development and the opportunities in particular circumstances. Sustainable development does not imply adopting or abandoning any particular sources of energy. The energy mix in Canada will continue to evolve, as it has in the past, for both economic and environmental reasons. These include the relative prices of various energy sources, advances in science, changes in technology, particularly pollution abatement technology, and demand for new fuels. The government's role includes assessing changes in energy needs and demands, and looking ahead to identify new, more efficient, effective, and environmentally acceptable approaches to providing energy services.

Recommendation

The federal Government should introduce creative taxes on carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxides, energy and electricity, similar to those in place in Sweden.


Response

The Canadian government has a plan to deal with emissions of GHGs, such as CO2. It also has a plan (Interim Plan 2001 on Particulate Matter and Ozone) to deal with NOx and other pollutants, such as PM, produced during electricity generation from fossil fuels, and it has an agreement with the United States (the Ozone Annex to the Canada-United States Air Quality Agreement) to reduce transboundary flows of ozone.

The Swedish energy taxation system is not considered a compelling model for meeting sustainable development objectives in Canada's circumstances. With respect to the CO2 tax, the country provides exemptions to manufacturing and agriculture, which, in the Canadian context, are substantial users of energy, while the effect of the CO2 tax on gasoline and diesel is neutralized by other energy tax cuts. As a result, the environmental benefit is not clear in terms of limiting consumption and thus emission levels from a stable price of gasoline and diesel. Electricity is taxed no matter its source. Consequently, the non-GHG-emitting sources that comprise more than 90 percent of Sweden's electricity are taxed at the same rate as fossil fuel sources. Canada already generates more than 70 percent of its electricity from non-GHG-emitting sources.

Finance Canada assesses, on an ongoing basis, a number of instruments used to address air quality concerns from other countries. These include: the NOx tax/charge (Sweden); tradable permits to deal with SO2 emissions (U.S.); taxes to deal with chemicals and ozone-depleting substances (U.S.); feebates to encourage the purchase of environmentally friendly vehicles (European countries); differential Value Added Tax rates to encourage consumers to switch to environmentally friendly products (European countries); energy investment tax credit (Netherlands); and the climate change levy applied at varying rates on different forms of energy (a function of energy intensity) - electricity, natural gas, coal, and propane (United Kingdom). Finance Canada continues to monitor the success of these programs for possible consideration in the future.

Recommendation

The federal Government should provide leadership in supporting research and development into sustainable energy technologies.

To clarify, the Petitioners do not consider nuclear power to be a sustainable alternative to fossil fuels. The approach advocated by the Petitioners, and the only approach consistent with the principles of sustainable development embodied in the Act, is to develop and expand energy conservation initiatives and renewable energy technologies. Nuclear power carries with it unacceptable levels of risk and waste, and is so capital intensive that it effectively forecloses the possibility of developing environmentally benign alternatives.


Response

Program of Energy Research and Development:

Established in 1974, the Program of Energy Research and Development (PERD) promotes the development and use of Canada's non nuclear energy resources in a clean and safe manner and the development of energy efficient, renewable, and alternative energy sources and technologies. Currently, 86 percent of PERD's programs are aimed at finding technology solutions to help Canada address its climate change challenges.

Natural Resources Canada manages PERD and operates the program through 12 participating federal departments and agencies. Energy research and development activities are mainly focused in the following areas: diversified oil and gas production, cleaner transportation, energy efficient buildings and communities, energy efficient industry, reducing the environmental impacts of Canada's electricity infrastructure, and climate change.

PERD's annual budget is approximately $57.5 million, of which an estimated $27.8 million is allocated to Natural Resources Canada's CANMET Energy Technology Centre (CETC). CETC supports a sustainable energy future for Canadians through national collaboration in energy innovation by:

  • creating opportunities from Canada's rich energy endowment;

  • ensuring affordable and reliable energy supplies;

  • transforming how we generate and use energy;

  • reducing energy's ecological footprint;

  • fulfilling societal and regional aspirations; and

  • enhancing security of energy supply and infrastructure.

PERD provides funds directly to its partner departments and agencies, which, in turn, leverage additional funds from industry and industry associations, the provinces, universities, and other funding programs, such as the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council , the Industrial Research Assistance Program , and Technology Early Action Measures.

PERD's international objectives are mainly advanced through participation in the International Energy Agency and collaboration with the U.S. Department of Energy under the Memorandum of Understanding on Energy R&D.

Sustainable Development Technology Canada:

Budget 2000 committed $100 million for the Sustainable Development Technology Fund (SDTF). The Canada Foundation for Sustainable Development Technology Act received Royal Assent on June 14, 2001.

Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC) is the third party agency that administers the SDTF. In March 2002, the government appointed the Chairperson as well as the initial directors and members. SDTC will stimulate the development and demonstration of Canadian technologies aimed at climate change and air quality. The Minister of Natural Resources will table the SDTC annual reports in Parliament. More information regarding the SDTC can be found at http://www.sdtc.ca.

The SDTC started its operations in April 2002 and has, to date, conducted two rounds of solicitations. It received over 500 applications with a combined total of $2.8 billion in total project funding costs and approximately $876 million in direct funding requests.

On November 18, 2002, the SDTC Board of Directors considered Round 1 applications and approved funding for eight projects, totalling $6.61 million. These funds will be leveraged by an additional $42.4 million from the project consortia.

 

FIGURES AND TABLES

Figure 1

Figure 2

Figure 3

Figure 4

Figure 5

Figure 6

 

Table 1

APPENDIX 1

Government of Canada's efforts to reduce GHG emissions from the transportation sector

Transportation and climate change:

Transportation accounts for approximately 25 percent of Canada's total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. About 70 percent of these emissions come from road transport, including from trucking and personal vehicle trips. Roughly two-thirds of GHG emissions are generated within urban areas. Transport Canada continues to work closely with Natural Resources Canada, Environment Canada and Industry Canada to develop and implement a comprehensive transportation strategy to address climate change. Currently, federal departments are working with stakeholders to deliver the five transportation measures in the government's Climate Change Action Plan 2000, which lays the foundations for the recently-released Climate Change Plan for Canada. This strategy focuses on key transportation objectives: action on vehicles and fuels that produce fewer emissions, the increased use of alternative modes of transportation for passenger travel and more efficient transport of goods. These actions will also contribute to cleaner air and reduced traffic congestion, making our cities healthier and more sustainable.

  • Urban Transportation Showcase Program: The goal of the Urban Transportation Showcase Program (UTSP), launched in June 2001, is to test and measure the impacts of strategies to reduce urban GHG emissions from transportation, in order to lay a foundation for the adoption of effective, integrated GHG reduction strategies in urban centres across Canada by 2010.

  • Freight Efficiency and Technology Initiative: This initiative, launched on November 26, 2001, will establish performance agreements with industry associations to reduce GHG emissions in the air, rail, trucking, and marine transportation sectors; implement the Freight Sustainability Demonstration Program, which is providing financial assistance to demonstrate and ultimately encourage the take-up of technologies and best practices that can reduce GHG emissions from all freight modes; and initiate training and awareness modules for shippers and carriers of all modes to promote best practices.

  • Motor Vehicle Fuel Efficiency Initiative: The goal of the Motor Vehicle Fuel Efficiency Initiative is to achieve a 25 percent improvement in new vehicle efficiency through voluntary agreements with the automobile industry, to be phased in between now and 2010 and harmonized with the United States. This initiative includes a consumer education campaign to aggressively promote the purchase of cleaner, more fuel-efficient vehicles and fuels. It also includes the Advanced Technology Vehicles Program (ATVP), under which available or soon to be available advanced vehicles and technologies are being evaluated to determine their impact on safety, energy efficiency, and the environment.

  • Ethanol: The Future Fuels Program is a renewed National Biomass Ethanol Program that will encourage new fuel ethanol production by providing a contingent line of credit that could be accessed by new ethanol producers in the event that a change in the federal excise tax treatment for fuel ethanol affected the ability of a producer to repay a major debt. The target will be to increase Canada's ethanol production capacity by 750 million litres—triple our current capacity—enabling as much as 25 percent of Canada's total gasoline supply to contain 10 percent ethanol (E 10) by 2010. This program also funds activities such as public education on fuel ethanol. This initiative will be supported through research on the impacts of E 10 (a blend of 90 percent gasoline and 10 percent ethanol that is commercially available in Ottawa and many parts of Canada) on vehicle performance and driveability. The goal is to identify and address vehicle issues so as to increase our understanding of and confidence in the E 10 fuel. Most cars on the road can use up to a 10 percent ethanol blend in gasoline. Up to 85 percent can be used in E 85 (a blend of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline) flexible fuel vehicles.

  • Canadian Fuel Cell Alliance Program: This program works with fuel cell suppliers, fuel providers, the automobile industry, and governments to demonstrate and deploy hydrogen and other fuelling infrastructure and to encourage the uptake of fuel cell vehicles in Canada.

Climate change transportation programs for federal government operations:

GHG emissions from federal on-road vehicles have been reduced by 20 percent from 1995-1996 to 2000-2001, as a result of changes to the Government of Canada's Motor Vehicle Policy. This decrease is due in part to reductions of kilometres travelled, greater fuel efficiency in vehicles, and a modest increase in the number of alternative-fuel vehicles in the fleet. Recent initiatives, including vehicle pooling to provide operating units with the right vehicle for the task, increased use of ethanol fuels, and policy changes encouraging the use of greener vehicles, will also have an impact on GHG emissions reductions.

New guidelines announced on November 22, 2002, will support increased purchases of vehicles that are smaller and more fuel-efficient and that can operate on alternative fuels. By following these guidelines, the federal fleet may reduce GHG emissions by 30,000 tonnes per year, or more than 1 tonne per vehicle. A campaign to help federal vehicle drivers locate and use E 10 was launched at the beginning of December 2002.

All ministers and secretaries of state will follow new guidelines for purchasing climate-friendly vehicles and using alternative fuels. Deputy ministers will be asked to follow their ministers' example. Starting immediately, E 10 will be used in vehicles whenever available. The Prime Minister has also asked his motorcade to use E 10 in its vehicles whenever available.

Vehicles purchased for ministers, secretaries of state, and senior officials will be:

  • factory-equipped for natural gas, propane, hybrid electric, or E 85, where fuelling infrastructure exists or is planned; or
  • among the most efficient in their class; for example, a winner of the EnerGuide Award for fuel efficiency.

Government of Canada departments that operate fleets of vehicles will take the following actions:

  • Drivers will fill up with E 10 whenever available.
  • Starting in the new model year, GHG emissions will be added to cost and fuel consumption as mandatory criteria when making vehicle purchase decisions.

In particular, the Government of Canada will:

  • take into account the class of vehicle appropriate for the use;
  • purchase a vehicle that is among the most energy-efficient in its class, including hybrids as appropriate; or
  • ensure that new vehicles are equipped to run on natural gas, propane, or E 85, where fuelling infrastructure exists or is planned.

Examples of environmental programs on transportation for federal employees:

As part of Transport Canada's commitment to lead by example and have its own "house in order," the department has initiated a Green Commute program. The desired outcome of this project is that employees not only will "green" their commuting, but also will become conscious of all of their travel patterns and make changes to reduce their overall vehicle use. Its primary objective is to promote "green" commuting and sustainable transportation in general. Through this program, Transport Canada employees can become leaders for sustainable transportation habits in the community at large.

Transport Canada has also launched an extensive Travel Demand Management program with its employees in the National Capital Region and has made a commitment to expand the Green Commute program by developing and disseminating a toolkit and by providing training for various employers, including other government departments.