Regulatory Framework for Air Emissions

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I. The Clean Air Regulatory Agenda

On October 21, 2006, the government published a Notice of Intent, which proposed an integrated, nationally-consistent approach to the regulation of greenhouse gas and air pollutant emissions in order to protect the health and environment of Canadians. Because greenhouse gases and air pollutants share many common sources, the coordination of requirements will allow firms to make cost-effective decisions to maximize synergies in reducing their emissions.

The government signalled its determination to address greenhouse gases and air pollutants from key sources, and outlined a regulatory agenda for industrial sources, transportation, and consumer and commercial products; for more stringent energy efficiency standards; and for improved indoor air quality. The government is committed to reducing Canada's total emissions of greenhouse gases, relative to 2006 levels, by 20% by 2020 and by 60% to 70% by 2050.

Environmental protection is an area of shared jurisdiction between the federal government and the provinces and territories. The federal government has clear jurisdiction to regulate air emissions in order to protect the environment and the health of Canadians.

The government recognizes the importance of endeavouring, in co-operation with provinces, territories, and aboriginal peoples, to achieve the highest level of environmental quality for all Canadians. Provinces have taken important action to reduce air pollutant emissions in their own jurisdictions. However, national consistency is necessary to provide a minimum level of air quality for all Canadians, to ensure a level playing field, and to protect competitiveness for Canadian industry in different regions by avoiding a patchwork of different regulations being applied to the same industrial sectors. An integrated, nationally-consistent approach will enable firms to reduce their emissions in an efficient and cost-effective manner. The federal government has never regulated emissions of greenhouse gases or air pollutants across industries before.

For industrial sources, the October 2006 Notice of Intent indicated the government would introduce a framework for short-term targets and compliance options by spring 2007.

In the transportation sector, the Prime Minister reaffirmed in a speech on February 6, 2007, that, for the first time ever, Canada's New Government will regulate the fuel efficiency of motor vehicles, beginning with the 2011 model year. There is currently a Memorandum of Understanding between the auto industry and the government, with a target of 5.3 Mt of greenhouse gas emissions reductions by 2010. The government will build on this agreement to establish an ambitious regulated fuel-efficiency standard for the 2011 model year, benchmarked against a stringent, dominant North American standard.

The government is also developing and will implement regulations to reduce smog- and acid rain-forming emissions from vehicles, engines and fuels; and will take action to reduce air emissions from other modes of transportation, including rail, aviation, and marine.

For the consumer and commercial products sector, the government is developing regulations that strengthen energy efficiency standards and labelling requirements for consumer and commercial products. The government is also developing, for the first time ever, a comprehensive regulatory agenda that will address indoor air quality.

The goal of these actions is to improve significantly and measurably the health of Canadians and the environment by reducing emissions of greenhouse gases and air pollutants.

Since the publication of the Notice of Intent, work has been ongoing on each of these priorities. Two draft regulations for the transportation sector have been published in the Canada Gazette to reduce smog-forming pollutants from vehicles and engines. Work has also commenced on a series of amendments to the Energy Efficiency Regulations.

As indicated in the Notice of Intent, an integrated approach to reducing emissions of greenhouse gases and air pollutants is being taken in order to maximize the benefits to the health of all Canadians and to the environment.

The next four sections present an overview of progress on the overall Clean Air Regulatory Agenda since the publication of the Notice of Intent. This includes overviews of: