Canada

   

Environmental Policies

#21
Key Findings
With a few blemishes on a generally strong environmental record, the country falls into the middle ranks worldwide (rank 21) on this issue. Its score in this area has improved by 1.7 points relative to 2014.

The country ratified the Paris climate agreement in 2016, 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, and even purchased one that appeared threatened.

A new policy imposes carbon taxes in provinces that lack such a mechanism. Internationally, the government is committing funds to help developing countries address climate change, and contributing to green-technology development.

Environment

#18

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 declined over the past decade, and climate change and renewable energy policies have featured prominently in public policymaking in the last several years.

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, and has adopted 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 provinces have already made significant efforts to address 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.”

The federal government approved two out of three proposed major oil pipelines in 2016. including the controversial Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. 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 2018, facing investor uncertainty stemming from low global oil prices and fierce local opposition, the government purchased the pipeline along with adjoining infrastructure for CAD 4.5 billion in an attempt to rescue the project. However, the Supreme Court subsequently ruled that the project had failed the duty to consult with indigenous peoples through whose traditional territories the pipeline runs. The outcome of a second round of consultations is still unclear.

A parliamentary review of Canada’s federal environmental assessment and regulatory processes, initiated by the Trudeau government in 2016, has led to the proposal of sweeping changes to a number of laws related to the environment. Bill C-69, which is currently under consideration by the Senate, seeks to streamline the impact assessment process while simultaneously widening its scope from purely adverse environmental factors to considerations such as the government’s ability to meet its climate change commitments, contributions to sustainability, and the impacts on Indigenous groups and rights. The proposal was made by environmental groups and Indigenous peoples, and has the potential to speed up the process and reduce uncertainty, which may also benefit industry.

The government has also passed legislation to impose a carbon tax in provinces without a comparable program. Many observers consider the initial carbon price level to be too low, however. At the same time, the Trudeau government continues to face fierce opposition from some provinces, including Ontario, the largest province, with conservative premiers.

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

Harris, Kathleen. “Liberals to buy Trans Mountain pipeline for $4.5B to ensure expansion is built.” CBC, May 29, 2018. Accessed on November 2, 2018 at https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/liberals-trans-mountain-pipeline-kinder-morgan-1.4681911

Global Environmental Protection

#25

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
8
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. Three 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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