Canada

   

Environmental Policies

#25
Key Findings
Despite considerable gains relative to the previous government’s environmental-policy neglect, the country falls into the lower-middle ranks worldwide (rank 25). Its score in this area has improved by 1.4 points relative to 2014.

The country ratified the Paris climate agreement in 2015, setting strong national emissions-reduction targets. Renewable-energy policy is largely a provincial policy area, with some making significant strides. However, climate-change adaption efforts are underdeveloped, and biodiversity in the country’s forests and waterways is on the decline.

Other environmental policies have also been strengthened, including bills to ban large oil tankers from northern British Columbia ports, and another to create a network of protected marine areas. However, the government has also approved the construction of major oil pipelines.

Internationally, the government is committing funds to help developing countries address climate change, and contributing to green-technology development.

Environment

#15

How effectively does environmental policy protect and preserve the sustainability of natural resources and quality of the environment?

10
 9

Environmental policy effectively protects, preserves and enhances the sustainability of natural resources and quality of the environment.
 8
 7
 6


Environmental policy largely protects and preserves the sustainability of natural resources and quality of the environment.
 5
 4
 3


Environmental policy insufficiently protects and preserves the sustainability of natural resources and quality of the environment.
 2
 1

Environmental policy has largely failed to protect and preserve the sustainability of natural resources and quality of the environment.
Environmental Policy
7
Environmental policy, across the board, is more-or-less balanced in Canada, with some areas preforming better than others. Biodiversity in Canada’s forests and waterways has reduced over the last several years, although climate change and renewable energy policies have featured prominently in public policymaking over the last year.

A bill (No. C-38) passed in 2012 made substantial changes to Canada’s environmental laws. It eliminated the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, lowering the stringency of the federal environmental-assessment process and limiting the scope for public involvement. The bill also had a number of implications for renewable water resources, forests, and biodiversity, including eliminating federal protection for 95% of Canada’s lakes and rivers. Amendments to the Species at Risk Act relieved the National Energy Board of the duty to impose critical-habitat-protection conditions on projects it approves. In addition, companies no longer have to renew permits periodically for projects that threaten critical habitats. A report from the World Wildlife Fund found that half of Canada’s species are in decline and the 64 species protected by the Species at Risk Act have seen their populations decline since the legislation was adopted in 2002 – a major policy failure. However, the tide seems to be turning for conservation policy. In 2017, the introduction of bills C-48, a moratorium for large oil tankers accessing ports on British Columbia’s north coast, and C-55, which establishes a network of protected marine areas and prohibits certain activities in these areas, indicate an effort to increase conservation of marine resources.

In 2016, Canada ratified the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, committing to a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 30% under 2005 levels by 2030, adopting this commitment as a national target. The Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change represents a collaborative effort to ensure the target is met through carbon pricing, investing in energy efficiency and renewable energy strategies. Renewable energy policy is largely the responsibility of the provinces and several have already made significant efforts in the fight against climate change. However, the 2017 Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development report concluded that federal government departments and agencies are “nowhere near being ready to adapt to the impacts of climate change.” Further, in November 2016, the federal government approved two out of three major oil pipelines, including the controversial Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline. The Kinder Morgan pipeline would triple the capacity of the existing pipeline, increase greenhouse gas emissions and increase tanker traffic around British Columbia’s coast sevenfold. In the coming years, it will be challenging for Canada to fulfill its environmental commitments, while also maintaining an internationally competitive oil sector.

Citations:
Office of the Auditor General of Canada, 2017 Fall Report of the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development to the Parliament of Canada, posted at http://www.oag-bvg.gc.ca/internet/English/parl_cesd_201710_00_e_42488.html

Theresa McClenaghan (2012) “Bill C-38: Federal Budget Bill 2012 Implications for Federal Environmental Law” Canadian Environmental Law Association, June. http://www.cela.ca/sites/cela.ca/fi les/Bill-C-38-Federal-Budget-Bill-R eview-and-Implications.pdf

Tasker, John Paul. “Trudeau cabinet approves Trans Mountain, Line 3 pipelines, rejects Northern Gateway.” CBC, November 29, 2016. Accessed on September 27, 2017 at http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/federal-cabinet-trudeau-pipeline-decisions-1.3872828

World Wildlife Fund (2017), Living Planet Report Canada: A national look at wildlife loss, posted at http://www.wwf.ca/newsroom/reports/lprc.cfm

Global Environmental Protection

#28

To what extent does the government actively contribute to the design and advancement of global environmental protection regimes?

10
 9

The government actively contributes to international efforts to design and advance global environmental protection regimes. In most cases, it demonstrates commitment to existing regimes, fosters their advancement and initiates appropriate reforms.
 8
 7
 6


The government contributes to international efforts to strengthen global environmental protection regimes. It demonstrates commitment to existing regimes and occasionally fosters their advancement or initiates appropriate reforms.
 5
 4
 3


The government demonstrates commitment to existing regimes, but neither fosters their advancement nor initiates appropriate reforms.
 2
 1

The government does not contribute to international efforts to strengthen global environmental protection regimes.
Global Environmental Policy
7
The government of Canada in principle supports the design and advancement of global environmental-protection regimes. In the past, Canada’s approach to environmental policy has, to a large degree, followed that of the United States, given the close economic relations between the two countries. Under the Obama administration, the United States has taken a lead with its Global Climate Change Initiative; however, this had little influence on Canada’s interest on this issue. Two years into their mandate, the Liberals have generally focused on domestic policy and have rarely led on new international frameworks for environmental protection. At the Paris Climate Conference (COP21) Prime Minister Trudeau announced CAD 30 million for the world’s poorest countries to combat climate change, and CAD 300 million to the Green Climate Fund for clean technology innovation.
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