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ARCHIVED - CEPA Annual Report for the Period April 1994 to March 1995

CEPA Part V: International Air Pollution

CEPA Part V gives the Minister of the Environment authority to regulate domestic sources of pollution that create air pollution in other countries or violate international agreements or threaten to do either. The Minister can exercise the authority only if the provinces are unable or unwilling to control pollution sources. To date, such action has not been necessary.

The federal, provincial and territorial governments have signed a Comprehensive Air Quality Management Framework For Canada. The framework establishes a cooperative mechanism to coordinate government action on air quality issues. Under the framework, the federal government has agreed to ask the provinces and territories for advice when developing and negotiating international air quality commitments and agreements.

Sulphur Dioxide Protocols

Canada has signed two protocols for managing sulphur dioxide (SO2) emissions under the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution (LRTAP). The first, signed in 1985, committed Canada to reduce national emissions of SO2 by 30% from the 1980 level by 1993 thereby creating a national cap on SO2 emissions of 3.2 million tonnes beginning in 1993. The second, signed in 1994, will, if ratified, commit Canada to a cap on SO2 emissions of 1.75 million tonnes beginning in year 2000 for a formally designated SO2 Management Area (SOMA) encompassing about 1 million square kilometres in southeastern Canada. Canada has exceeded both of these commitments. In 1994, national SO2 emissions had been reduced to 2.5 million tonnes, 40% below the 1980 national emission level of 4.6 million tonnes and 22% below the national cap, and emissions in the SOMA had been reduced to 1.2 million tonnes, 31% below the SOMA cap for year 2000. These results were achieved through negotiated bilateral agreements between the federal government and the seven easternmost provinces (all provinces east of the Manitoba-Saskatchewan border) on provincial emission caps for 1994. Provincial regulatory programs ensured the caps were achieved and stringent emission requirements placed on certain major new sources, e.g. natural gas plants, in some western provinces minimized growth in emissions.

NOx and VOC Protocols

Reducing the level of pollutants that cause ground level ozone remains one of Canada's key environmental objectives. To this end, in 1988 Canada signed and ratified a UNECE protocol that calls for, among other things, a reduction of Canadian NOx (nitrogen oxides) emissions sources to 1987 levels by 1994. This objective has been achieved. In addition, in 1991 Canada signed a UNECE protocol calling for a freeze in national VOC (volatile organic compound) emissions to 1988 levels by 1999. The federal government has also committed to reducing VOC emissions to 70 percent of 1988 levels by 1999 in selected emission management areas. Meeting these targets requires the full implementation of the NOx/VOC Management Plan developed by federal, provincial and territorial governments. A review of the status of the plan has indicated that further action will be needed.

The Canada-United States Air Quality Agreement

The Canada-United States Air Quality Agreement was signed in 1991 in order to protect both countries from transboundary air pollution. The Agreement is an umbrella agreement to deal with all transboundary air pollution but currently contains commitments for only SO2 and NOx emissions aimed at reducing the acid rain problem. The Agreement also calls for cooperation in air emission inventory work, air quality monitoring, assessment of the state-of-environment related to transboundary air pollution, and research and development.

Specific commitments for Canada in the Agreement included reiteration of the 3.2 million tonne national SO2 cap originally agreed to in the first UNECE Sulphur Protocol. As stated under "Sulphur Dioxide Protocols" Canada has already exceeded that commitment. In addition, there is a 10% (100,000 tonne) reduction in stationary source NOx emissions by year 2000, and NOx emission controls on mobile sources equivalent to those in the U.S. Canada is on track to achieve these additional commitments. The SO2 reductions were achieved through cooperative federal-provincial efforts as noted under the "Sulphur Dioxide Protocol". The 10% stationary source NOx reduction commitment has already been achieved, primarily by new emission control requirements on automobiles and cooperative federal-provincial programs under the national NOx/VOC Management Plan. Canada has also introduced new mobile source NOx emission standards equivalent to current U.S. standards through Memoranda of Understanding with automobile and engine manufacturers. We expect to keep pace with additional U.S. standards through implementation of measures proposed by the federal-provincial Task Force on Cleaner Vehicles and Fuels and agreed to by the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment.

In November 1994, the bi-national Air Quality Committee released its second Progress Report on the Air Quality Agreement. A comprehensive review of the Agreement, which will include public consultation, will be initiated in 1995 and completed in 1996.

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