Action on Climate Change and Air Pollution

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Canada’s New Government understands that Canadians are concerned about the environment. We are taking immediate steps to reduce air pollution and the emissions of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide that cause climate change. Our approach is concrete, practical, and will mean real improvements to our climate and environment.

For the first time in this country, doing something about climate change will mean action, not more talk.

All major industrial sectors will have to respect aggressive limits to reduce greenhouse gases and air pollutants.

Our approach also includes tough measures to:

We will continue to work with provincial and territorial governments, non-governmental organizations, communities, and individual Canadians to ensure that everyone gets involved and does their part. We will deliver real results for all Canadians and take all the steps necessary so that Canada’s greenhouse gases and air pollution are reduced. And we will also do this in a way that allows our economy to grow and prosper.

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Benefits of Our Actions

Our action plan will reduce the impact of greenhouse gases and air pollution on our environment and the health of Canadians. Our actions will have real health benefits for everyone, as well as positive economic effects.

Health Benefits

The health benefits of our plan include:

The estimated benefits as of 2015 from the reduced risk of death and illness associated with our air quality improvements are over $6 billion annually.

Environmental Benefits

There will be many environmental benefits, touching all aspects of human activity, including improved conditions for nature and wildlife. The quality of life on this planet depends on the long-term health of the environment, and both are vulnerable to the effects of air pollution and climate change.

Economic Benefits

Clear and strong regulations will mean more investment in technology and innovation in Canada. Increased productivity, improved energy efficiency, greater competitiveness, and more opportunity to sell Canadian environmental products and know-how abroad mean long-term economic benefits for Canada and more jobs for Canadians.

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Action on Greenhouse Gases

Climate change is a serious environmental challenge and our Government has an aggressive strategy to tackle it. We will set mandatory reduction targets for all major industries that produce greenhouse gases, like carbon dioxide, that cause climate change. Our strategy is real, it begins immediately and it will lead to concrete results with challenging, but realistic emissions targets for industry.

These targets will be tough and they will be tightened each and every year. That means that a company will have to cut its greenhouse gas emissions per unit of production by 18% by 2010. Overall, this will represent an average reduction of 6% every year starting now. In each and every year after 2010 it will have to cut a further 2% of its emissions intensity. As a result, greenhouse gases in Canada will start going down as soon as 2010.

This will place us on the road to achieve a total reduction of Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions of 20% by 2020. With this plan, we will have one of the most stringent sets of regulated industrial targets for greenhouse gases and air pollution in the world.


Existing facilities

New facilities

Ways to comply (in addition to in-house reductions)

Climate change technology fund: one fund/two components


Credit for early action of 15 Mt

Source: Environment Canada.

We will not put in place a plan that would sacrifice Canadians' jobs. Companies will be able to choose the best way to meet their reduction targets in a cost-effective way. This includes making reductions in their own facilities, investing in emission reducing technologies like carbon dioxide pipelines to bury the gases in the earth, or taking advantage of domestic emissions trading to deliver reductions in Canada now. They will also have access to one of the types of international trading known as the Clean Development Mechanism under the Kyoto Protocol. This will generate real reductions globally and help developing countries too. As well, the Government will provide a one-time credit to reward those companies that are already taking action.

Sources of Emissions of Greenhouse Gases

Percent of total Canadian emissions of greenhouse gases (2004).
Source: Environment Canada.

Our plan will encourage companies to invest in green technologies that will produce real benefits for our environment now and in the future.

Canada's GHG Emissions
Click to enlarge

Source: Environment Canada.

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Action on Air Pollution

Air pollution has become increasingly visible in cities and towns across Canada. Our plan will lead to reductions in air pollutant emissions that cause smog and acid rain by up to 55% as early as 2012.

To get there, our plan will set national caps for industrial emissions of four air pollutants commonly associated with smog and acid rain, namely nitrogen oxides, sulphur oxides, volatile organic compounds, and particulate matter. Caps will also be set for other air pollutants such as mercury from electricity produced by combustion, and benzene emissions from the natural gas, and iron and steel sectors.

Our plan will also dictate the maximum level of pollution a specific industry can emit in a given year. To calculate national caps, all the different sectoral caps for each pollutant will be added together.

Companies will be able to choose the most cost-effective way to meet their air pollutant targets. This includes making changes to improve the functioning of their plants or buying new technology that reduces air pollution.

Sources of Emissions of Air Pollutants

Percent of total Canadian emissions of air pollutants (2002)
Source: Environment Canada

Companies will also be able to take part in a Canada-wide trading system to buy credits if they have not reached their nitrogen oxides and sulphur oxides reduction targets. Although we are still setting up the trading system, we already know that trading will be limited in areas that have poor air quality. This way, we can help ensure there is at least a minimum level of local or regional air quality.


NATIONAL CAPS for 2012 to 2015
(% reduction from 2006 emissions)


for 2012 to 2015

All to be validated by June 2007, including the date of entry into force

Ways to comply (in addition to in-house reductions)

Domestic trading for nitrogen
oxides and sulphur oxides


Pursue discussions on Canada-U.S. trading for nitrogen oxides and sulphur oxides

Source: Environment Canada.

The Government will immediately begin discussions with provinces, territories and industry on the proposed caps for the different kinds of air pollutants, as well as their exact date of coming into force between 2012 and 2015. This will give businesses time to make the investments they need to respect their reduction targets.

Projected changes in Canada’s air pollutant emissions that cause smog and acid rain in 2015 compared to 2006
Click to enlarge

Source: Environment Canada.

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Other Things We Are Doing to Fight Climate Change and Air Pollution

Reducing Emissions from Transportation

Transportation is one of the largest sources of air pollution and greenhouse gases in Canada. Cars, trucks, trains, and planes all add to air pollution, and they account for over one quarter of all greenhouse gas and air pollutant emissions in Canada.

For the first time, we will regulate cars and light trucks to make sure they use fuel more efficiently. Our standard will be based on a stringent, dominant North American standard. We will work hard with the United States to pursue a Clean Auto Pact that would create an environmentally ambitious North American standard for cars and light duty trucks.

We will make air pollution rules for vehicles and engines that are sources of smog - like motorcycles, personal watercraft, snowmobiles, and all-terrain vehicles - and align them with the world-leading standards of the United States. We will also continue to take action to reduce emissions from the rail, marine, and aviation sectors.

Action on Consumer and Commercial Products

We are taking action so energy-using products such as dishwashers, refrigerators, air conditioners, and commercial boilers use energy more efficiently. We will also phase out the use of inefficient incandescent light bulbs by 2012. All this will give Canadian consumers real opportunity both to save money on energy and to help clean up our environment. Using energy more efficiently means less wasted energy and less air pollution.

We will also take action to regulate paints, coatings, cleaners, and personal care products that contain volatile organic compounds that cause smog.

Improving Indoor Air Quality

As Canadians, we spend 90% of our time indoors, where we are exposed to all sorts of pollutants. Some come from outside, while others come from such things as mould, improperly vented or poorly maintained furnaces, stoves, or heaters, as well as building materials. The United States Environmental Protection Agency ranks indoor air among the top five environmental risks to public health.

We will develop a list of the most harmful indoor contaminants and take action to improve the quality of the air we breathe indoors.

How Will It Affect You and What Can You Do?

Canadians have every reason to be concerned about climate change and air pollution, and we all need to be part of the solution. Tough and real action on the environment comes at a cost that will be borne, at least in part, by each and every one of us.

The costs are real, but manageable. This can include price increases for consumer products such as vehicles, electricity, natural gas, and household appliances. We must all be prepared to do our part in order to get the job done.

All Canadians have an important role to play by taking action as consumers, as employees, as business people, as parents, and as responsible citizens. You can do your part by:

Every little bit we do can make a big difference in reducing air pollution, tackling climate change, and protecting our health and our environment. By using less energy, less air emissions are produced. It is a win-win situation!

For more information on what the Government is doing and what you can do to tackle climate change, and reduce air pollution,
visit or call 1 800 O-Canada
(1-800-622-6232, or TTY 1-800-926-9105).