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ARCHIVED - CEPA Annual Report for the Period April 1996 to March 1997

CEPA Part V: International Air Pollution

Part V of the Act covers activities related to domestic sources of air contaminants that create air pollution in other countries or violate international agreements.

Sulphur Dioxide (SO2) Protocols

Canada has signed two protocols for managing SO2 emissions under the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution. Canada has exceeded its commitments for both protocols.

In 1995, national SO2 emissions were estimated to be 2.6 million tonnes, or 19 percent below the agreed-upon national cap of 3.2 million tonnes. Emissions in a region of southeastern Canada referred to as the Sulphur Oxides Management Area were estimated to be 1.3 million tonnes, or 26 percent below the cap set at 1.75 million tonnes for the year 2000. These emissions reductions were largely achieved as a result of the Eastern Canada Acid Rain Program, which capped provincial SO2 emissions in the seven easternmost provinces. Provincial regulations have ensured that the caps were met on time. Some western provinces also set stringent emission requirements on certain major new sources, such as natural gas plants, to minimize the growth in emissions. However, even with full implementation of both the Eastern Canada Acid Rain Program and the U.S. Acid Rain Program, Canada will continue to receive harmful levels of acid deposition. As a result, a new National Strategy on Acidifying Emissions to further protect the environment and human health is anticipated during 1997.

Oxides of Nitrogen (NOX) and Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) Protocols

Under United Nations agreements, Canada has signed protocols for both NOX and VOC reductions. Canada has met the commitments of the First Nitrogen Protocol when, beginning in 1994, it froze NOX emissions at 1987 levels. The VOC Protocol commits Canada, beginning in 1997, to a freeze on VOC emissions at 1988 levels and to a 30 percent reduction in the Lower Fraser Valley of B.C. as well as the Windsor-Quebec Corridor. Canadian VOC emissions are being reduced and additional control measures are being developed to further reduce emissions. However, a majority of the ozone smog in Canada is the product of pollutants transported from the United States. Therefore, Canada is closely following U.S. actions to cut smog-producing emissions, as well as working with the U.S. to move towards bi-national actions on smog.

Progress is also being made on implementing an open market Pilot Emission Reduction Trading Program for NOX emission sources. There may also be an opportunity for Canada to link with an interstate trading framework for large stationary sources. The framework was developed by the 37-state Ozone Transport Assessment Group in the United States.

Implementation of the CCME cleaner vehicles and fuels initiative will harmonize Canadian control standards for vehicles with those in the U.S. and introduce low-emission vehicle technology and reformulated vehicle fuels to the Canadian market.

National and Regional Smog Management Plans

As originally anticipated in the Phase I 1990 NOX/VOC Management Plan, a second phase of measures is needed to meet the objective of 82 parts per billion of ozone, and to address the issue of fine particulates. This is currently being addressed. Preliminary work has begun on the development of Regional Plans for segments of the Windsor-Quebec Corridor and the Southern Atlantic Region. The Lower Fraser Valley has had a smog reduction plan in effect for several years. A major NOX/VOC science assessment is also being completed and publication is expected during 1997.

Canada-United States Air Quality Agreement

The Canada-United States Air Quality Agreement was signed in 1991 to protect both countries from transboundary air pollution. While the Agreement provides a framework to deal with all transboundary air pollution, it currently contains only commitments for SO2 and NOX emissions, aimed at reducing the acid rain problem.

The Agreement reiterates Canada's commitments to cap national SO2 emissions at 3.2 million tonnes. It also calls for a 10 percent reduction in NOX emissions from stationary sources by the year 2000 and NOX emission controls on mobile sources equivalent to those in the U.S. Canada has met its SO2 commitments, as discussed under "Sulphur Dioxide Protocols," and will achieve the NOX commitments.

By 2010, the U.S. is committed to reducing its SO2 emissions from 1980 levels by 40 percent and by 2000, its NOX emissions by 10 percent. It is on track to meet these commitments.

In 1995, as per the Agreement, Canada and the U.S. completed a five-year review of the Air Quality Agreement, with input from the public. Both countries concluded that the Agreement is largely working as intended but that a few differences still remain. They also acknowledged that control of transboundary air pollution has not occurred to the extent necessary to protect the environment, particularly for acid-sensitive areas. Canada and the U.S. are currently determining what follow-up action is required. The review was published in the 1996 Progress Report on the Air Quality Agreement.

In recognition of the transboundary nature of ground-level ozone and inhalable particulates, discussions are under way between governments with respect to future annexes under the Agreement to address these issues.

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