This page has been archived on the Web

Information identified as archived is provided for reference, research or recordkeeping purposes. It is not subject to the Government of Canada Web Standards and has not been altered or updated since it was archived. Please contact us to request a format other than those available.

Skip booklet index and go to page content

ARCHIVED - CEPA Annual Report April 1998 to March 1999

Part V: International Air Pollution (CEPA Sections 61–65)

Part V authorizes the control of domestic sources of air contaminants that create air pollution in other countries or that violate international agreements.

Canada plays a lead role on the international stage in seeking international cooperation and agreements on measures to control air pollution. This is because, overall, due to global wind patterns and a cold climate, many more pollutants arrive in Canada by air and remain here than leave from here by air. To protect the health of Canadians and their environment, it is therefore essential not only to control domestic sources of air pollution, but also to participate in efforts to ensure that other countries control their air pollution as well.

Work under Part V of CEPA includes both international work and work within Canada, with provincial and territorial governments and multi-stakeholder groups, towards meeting national pollution prevention goals and international commitments.

International Air Quality Agreements and Protocols

Canada/United States

  • Air Quality Agreement (1991)
    • basis for commitments to control acid rain: sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions
    • agreement to negotiate a new annex to address ground-level ozone through controls on emissions of NOx and VOCs
    • agreement to cooperate on joint technical analysis of transboundary fine inhalable particles leading to negotiation of another annex to the Agreement

Canada/United States/Mexico

  • Regional action plans on DDT, chlordane, PCBs and mercury

Canada/Europe/United States

  • UN-ECE Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution
    • two Sulphur Dioxide Protocols (1985 and 1994)
    • Nitrogen Oxide Protocol (1988)
    • VOCs (1991)
    • POPs (1998) NEW
    • Heavy Metals (HMs) (1998) NEW


  • Vienna Convention on the Ozone Layer and the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer (1987)
  • United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (1992) and the Kyoto Protocol on Greenhouse Gas Emissions (1997)
    • Action Plan with rules and mechanisms to implement the Protocol (1998)

Canada’s International Commitments

Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) and Heavy Metals (HMs)

On June 24, 1998, Canada and 31 other countries signed the Persistent Organic Pollutants and Heavy Metals Protocols under the UN-ECE Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution.

Canada was the first country to ratify both Protocols, on December 18, 1998.

The POPs Protocol addresses the production, use and atmospheric emission of 16 POPs through multiple control regimes.

The HMs Protocol requires the control of cadmium, lead and mercury by:

  • controlling atmospheric emissions from new plants in designated industrial sectors,
  • reducing atmospheric emissions from existing facilities by 50% of 1990 levels, and
  • controlling the lead content in gasoline and the mercury content in alkaline batteries.

In June 1998, Canada hosted the first round of international negotiations for a global POPs agreement under the United Nations Environment Programme. Canada’s objective is to obtain a commitment from countries around the world to undertake appropriate control actions on POPs. Negotiations are expected to be completed in the year 2000.

In March 1999, Environment Canada and its provincial and territorial counterparts held multi-stakeholder consultations on a proposed Strategic Implementation Framework for International Commitments on Hazardous Air Pollutants. The Strategic Implementation Framework describes the set of programs and measures that Canada will use to tackle the issue of POP and HM releases in Canada.

In addition to these international initiatives, Canada is working in a continental context with the United States and Mexico to develop and implement regional action plans on DDT, chlordane, PCBs and mercury. Bilaterally, Canada is also working with the United States under the “Great Lakes Binational Toxics Strategy” to reduce emissions of POPs and HMs in the Great Lakes basin.

Sulphur Dioxide

Canada has been successful at meeting the national caps set for sulphur dioxide emissions, largely as a result of the Eastern Canada Acid Rain Program, which capped provincial sulphur dioxide emissions in the seven easternmost provinces. Some western provinces have also set stringent emission requirements on major new sources, such as natural gas plants, to minimize increases in emissions. However, even with full implementation of these programs and the United States Acid Rain Program, ecosystems in eastern Canada continue to receive harmful levels of acid deposition. Further action was necessary, so, in October 1998, 26 federal, provincial and territorial Ministers of Energy and Environment signed the Canada-Wide Acid Rain Strategy for Post-2000. As part of the implementation strategy, next-step reductions in sulphur dioxide emissions will be negotiated over the next few years.

Eastern Canada Emissions of Sulphur Dioxide

Nitrogen Oxides

Canada is committed, pursuant to the 1988 UN-ECE Nitrogen Oxide Protocol, to freeze national emissions of nitrogen oxides at 1987 levels. Canada continued to meet this commitment in 1998-99.

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)

Canada signed the UN-ECE Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution Protocol on VOCs in 1991 but has not ratified it. The negotiation of a European protocol to abate acidification, eutrophication and ground-level ozone is nearing completion. This protocol will address ground-level ozone and acid rain through controls on nitrogen oxides, VOCs, sulphur and ammonia.

Under the UN-ECE Convention, the negotiation of a final overarching protocol has been completed and it is expected to be signed in Sweden in early December 1999. This protocol addresses ground-level ozone, eutrophication (only in Europe), and acid rain, through controls on nitrogen oxides, VOCs, ammonia (only in Europe), and sulphur dioxide. The Protocol allows Canada (and the United States) to sign without making emission commitments. It also allows Canada (and the United States) to complete their current ongoing acid rain and ground-level ozone domestic and bilateral negotiations. These negotiations will determine the emission reduction commitments that will be submitted to the Protocol upon ratification in two to three years.

Ozone-depleting Substances

Under the Montreal Protocol, Canada made an international commitment to reduce emissions of ozone-depleting substances to 6% below 1990 levels by 2004.

Amendments to the Ozone-depleting Substances Regulations

The Ozone-depleting Substances Regulations were revised and published in the Canada Gazette, Part II, on January 6, 1999. These regulations combine and enhance the previous Ozone-depleting Substances Regulations and the Ozone-depleting Substances Products Regulations. The new Regulations include control measures that will help to implement additional requirements under the Montreal Protocol and meet Canada’s domestic commitments under the Ozone Layer Protection Program.

Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and Metered-dose Inhalers

In July 1998, the Minister approved a strategy for making the transition from CFC to non-CFC metered-dose inhalers to meet commitments under the Montreal Protocol. Canada’s Transition Strategy has objectives to reduce CFC metered-dose inhalers by 60% in 2001 and to eliminate them in 2005. The strategy was designed to balance the goal of eliminating CFCs in inhalers with the need to ensure that users have a continuing supply of inhalers for medical purposes.

Nine new projects were approved and five projects continued under funding from the Multilateral Fund of the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer.

Although sulphur dioxide emissions continued to drop throughout the 1980s and 1990s, the actual deposition of wet sulphate is still above critical load levels in some regions. The critical load for aquatic ecosystems is the amount of wet sulphate deposition that must not be exceeded in order to protect at least 95% of lakes in a region from acidifying to a pH level of less than 6.0. Many studies suggest that a pH of at least 6.0 is needed to protect most aquatic organisms.

Here are two examples of projects funded under the Public Education and Outreach component of the Climate Change Action Fund:

  • The Perth CO2000 project involves citizens, businesses and community organizations in finding ways to make Perth, Ontario, more environmentally and economically efficient. The town expects to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20%, to create strong community partnerships and initiatives that will be sustained after funding ends and to produce a model for other communities to consider.
  • The Sunridge Group will enhance and expand the EnerGuide for Houses program in Saskatchewan, for which they are the official agent. Working with members of community-based organizations, First Nations people, real estate and renovations groups and homeowners, they will raise awareness of climate change issues and do home inspections to promote improved energy efficiency.

Ozone above the earth, in the stratosphere, is beneficial, protecting the Earth’s environment from the sun’s damaging rays. That’s why we worry about holes in the ozone layer and are taking action to control the ozone-depleting substances that contribute to the deterioration of the ozone layer.

Ozone at ground level, on the other hand, is detrimental to the Earth’s environment, affecting the quality of the air we breathe and contributing to the greenhouse effect. Ground-level ozone is not beneficial, and so we are taking steps to control its presence.

Climate Change


Environment Canada, with the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, was active in advancing negotiations on climate change and supporting the involvement of developing countries. We play a key role in improving global awareness of climate change and its impacts through science activities, including participation in the World Climate Change Research Program and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, to which over 30 Canadian scientists, academics and others have made a significant contribution.


Development of the National Implementation Strategy for Climate Change involves 450 government and private sector participants, environmental group representatives and academic experts, working to identify the options and opportunities available to each sector of the economy to meet Canada’s commitment to address climate change. Environment Canada is the federal lead for 6 of the 16 work groups, heading efforts on public education and outreach, credit for early action, sinks, municipalities, Kyoto mechanisms and (with Natural Resources Canada) science, impacts and adaptation.

The Climate Change Action Fund was established by the Government of Canada in 1998 and is co-managed by Environment Canada and Natural Resources Canada. The three-year, $150-million fund has four components:

  • Public Education and Outreach supports projects that build public awareness and understanding of climate change and promote actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Science, Impacts and Adaptation supports research to advance knowledge of the magnitude, rate and regional and national impact of climate change. The purpose is to better estimate the risks and to find ways to adapt to the predicted changes.
  • Technology Early Action Measures (TEAM) supports cost-effective technology projects that will lead to significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Foundation Analysis supports the analysis of options to meet Canada’s Kyoto commitments.

Federal Smog Plan

In 1990, responding to concerns about the impact of smog on human and ecological health, the CCME adopted a NOx and VOC Plan, which included over 80 actions and initiatives to reduce emissions and broaden our scientific understanding of smog. The Plan was reviewed in 1995, resulting in the Phase 2 Federal Smog Plan. A NOx/ VOC Science Assessment was published late in 1997.

The federal government is now developing a Phase 3 Federal Smog Management Plan, building on the Phase 1 and 2 Plans. This Phase 3 Plan will complement actions taken by other levels of Canadian government. Phase 3 targets emissions from domestic sources under federal responsibility, such as standards for new vehicles and consumer products and measures to reduce pollution from fossil fuel use.

Canada-wide Standards Development

In January 1998, members of the CCME, except for Quebec’s Minister of the Environment, endorsed a Canada-wide Accord on Environmental Harmonization and the Policy for the Management of Toxic Substances. In 1998-99, federal-provincial Canada-wide Standards Development Committees began work, under the environmental standards sub-agreement, on three airborne substances related to climate change targeted for Canada-wide Standards: particulate matter, ozone and benzene. (Other substances targeted for Canada-wide Standards development are mercury, dioxins and furans and petroleum hydrocarbons.)

Voluntary Initiatives

As part of its non-regulatory approach to environmental protection, Environment Canada has been negotiating MOUs with industry groups representing manufacturers of recreational marine engines, utility engines (e.g., chain saws, lawn mowers, etc.) and diesel off-road engines to voluntarily supply cleaner engines to the Canadian market. These MOUs are being pursued to secure near-term environmental benefits and could serve as a prelude to emissions regulations under the new CEPA. To date, representatives from the recreational marine engine sector have agreed to sign an MOU that will take effect for the 2001 model year. Also, representatives from the small hand-held utility engine sector (e.g., chain saws, leaf blowers, etc.) have agreed to sign an MOU that will take effect for the 2000 model year.

MOUs covering non-hand-held utility engines (e.g., lawn mowers, generators, etc.) and diesel off-road vehicles -- construction and agricultural equipment -- are under discussion with manufacturers.

Date modified: