Regulatory Framework for Air Emissions

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III. Actions for Transportation Sources

A. Emissions from the Sector

Transportation is one of the largest sources of greenhouse gas and air pollutant emissions in Canada. The growth in population and the growth in travel by individual Canadians are leading to higher levels of passenger transportation activity, particularly in road and air travel. Similarly, growth in trade and the continued dominance of just-in-time delivery models in the freight sector are leading to significant increases in transport activity.

Transportation accounts for about 25% of Canada's total greenhouse gas emissions, and total transport-related greenhouse gas emissions increased by 27% between 1990 and 2004.

Major air pollutants from transportation activity include carbon monoxide (CO), NOx, SOx, and VOCs, many of which lead to the formation of smog. Transportation accounts for 59% of Canada's total CO emissions and 53% of Canada's total NOx emissions. The effects of transportation emissions and their contribution to smog are of particular concern in urban areas, where populations are dense and transportation demand is high. Over 80% of Canadians live in urban areas, with more than 50% concentrated in the nine largest cities. One-third of Canadians live in Canada's largest three cities: Toronto, Montréal, and Vancouver.

The emission of air pollutants from cars and light trucks has improved significantly over the last two decades and is projected to continue declining over the next decade. Greenhouse gas emissions from cars and light trucks have been growing steadily, however, and this is an issue that must be addressed now.

Cars and light trucks contribute approximately 13% of total Canadian greenhouse gas emissions. There is a need to focus on personal vehicle emissions and to improve the overall energy efficiency of this mode.

Under the Clean Air Regulatory Agenda, the government will pursue appropriate regulatory action throughout the transportation system, including for the motor vehicle, engine, rail, marine, and aviation sectors.

B. Regulating the Fuel Consumption of Motor Vehicles

As part of a broader transportation policy package, a mandatory fuel-efficiency standard, beginning with the 2011 model year, will be developed through a process that will involve input from all the stakeholders, and it will be published by the end of 2008. It will be designed for Canada to maximize our environmental and economic benefits and will be benchmarked against a stringent, dominant North American standard.

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 2005 agreement in establishing its ambitious regulated fuel-efficiency standard. These new regulations will be developed and implemented under the Motor Vehicle Fuel Consumption Standards Act.

The government recognizes that the auto industry operates in an integrated North American market. The government will establish a standard that is achievable within the North American market and that will ensure sustained reductions in greenhouse gas emissions following completion of the 2005-2010 MOU. The level of this standard will be determined through the normal regulatory process, including consultation with the automotive industry and other stakeholders. The government has already started consultations with the auto industry and intends to pursue further consultations.

The federal government intends to work in close collaboration with the U.S. government pursuing the concept of a Clean Auto Pact, towards establishing an environmentally ambitious North American regulatory standard for cars and light-duty trucks.

The following schedule is planned with respect to the development of fuel consumption regulations under the Motor Vehicle Fuel Consumption Standards Act.

1. Consultation paper issued
Summer/Fall 2007
2. Consultations with industry, provinces, non-governmental organizations, and other stakeholders
Summer/Fall 2007
3. Draft regulations published in the Canada Gazette, Part I
4. Comment period (90 days)  
5. Final regulations published in the Canada Gazette, Part II
by the end of 2008
6. Regulations come into force for the 2011 model year  

C. Regulating the Rail Sector

The Minister of Transport, with the Minister of the Environment, will support an MOU with the Railway Association of Canada that is consistent with the U.S. air pollution standards and that ensures that the rail industry continues to improve its greenhouse gas emission performance during the period 2006-2010. Once the MOU expires, the voluntary approach will be replaced with a regulatory regime. The Minister of Transport will implement new regulations, under the Railway Safety Act, to take effect in 2011.

D. Regulating the Marine and Aviation Sectors

The marine and aviation sectors present unique challenges with respect to reductions in emissions of greenhouse gases and air pollutants. They operate in a truly international context in which countries collaborate on their respective regulations through international bodies such as the International Maritime Organization and the International Civil Aviation Organization.

In the marine sector, the Minister of Transport is adopting current international standards established by the International Maritime Organization for controlling emissions of air pollutants from ships and, with the Minister of the Environment, is supporting the development of new, stricter international standards. The Minister of Transport intends to ensure their application domestically under the Canada Shipping Act. This includes work now under way with Environment Canada and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on a feasibility study examining whether North American waters should be designated as areas where ships must reduce sulphur emissions.

The government continues to support harmonized international efforts to limit or reduce both domestic and international aviation emissions of both greenhouse gases and air pollutants. The Minister of Transport, as Canada's official representative, supports the work of the International Civil Aviation Organization to develop international standards and recommended practices for the reduction of greenhouse gas and air pollutant emissions from aviation sources. These standards and recommended practices will be considered in the development of domestic regulations under the Aeronautics Act.

Canada is the first country in the world to have negotiated an MOU with its aviation industry to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases from aviation sources.11 The agreement sets a clear and measurable annual fuel efficiency target that will achieve a cumulative reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of 24% by 2012, relative to 1990 levels.

E. Regulations to Reduce Air Pollutant Emissions from On-Road and Off-Road Vehicles and Engines

The government is developing and will implement a series of regulations to reduce air pollutant emissions from on-road and off-road vehicles and engines in alignment with the world-leading national standards of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Continuing to align Canada's regulations with stringent U.S. federal rules ensures that significantly cleaner vehicles and engines will be marketed in Canada while maintaining a level playing field among companies.

The government has already published final regulations to maintain alignment with new requirements introduced by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for 2006 and later model year motorcycles12 and proposed new regulations to establish stringent smog-forming emission standards applicable to outboard engines, personal watercraft, snowmobiles, off-road motorcycles, and all-terrain vehicles manufactured after January 1, 2008.13 The government plans to finalize these regulations in June 2007. Other regulatory measures will be put in place to deal with, among others, on-road heavy-duty engines and off-road diesel engines.

11 Agreement to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions in the Aviation Sector, June 29, 2005, available at

12 Regulations Amending the On-Road Vehicle and Engine Emission Regulations, Canada Gazette, Part II, November 15, 2006, Vol. 140, No. 23 at page 1701, available at

13 Marine Spark-Ignition Engine and Off-Road Recreational Vehicle Emission Regulations, Canada Gazette, Part I, December 30, 2006, Vol. 140, No. 52 at page 4553, available at