Canada has no comprehensive federal climate change legislation. An act to implement Canada’s targets under the Kyoto Protocol during the first commitment period of 2008–2012 was passed in 2007. However, in 2011, Canada announced that it would withdraw from the Kyoto Protocol and officially repealed the Act in 2012, within the framework of the budget implementation Act.

There have been attempts to pass more comprehensive and longer-term climate change legislation, the most significant being the Climate Change Accountability Act. This Bill was originally introduced in 2006 and again in 2010, when it was passed by the House of Commons but did not pass in the Senate. In 2011 the bill was reintroduced by the largest opposition party, the New Democratic Party, but no progress has been made. This bill would have required the federal government to set regulations to attain a medium-term target to bring GHG emissions 25% below 1990 levels by 2020, and a long-term target to bring emissions 80% below 1990 levels by 2050. The bill would also have allowed the government to establish executive measures to meet these targets and set penalties for those that violate the regulations (for example, the Passenger Automobile and Light Truck Greenhouse Gas Emission Regulations published in October 2010).

The reduction targets in the bill were proposed by “Turning the Corner: Action Plan to Reduce Greenhouse Gases and Air Pollution”, the Conservative Party’s climate change plan announced in 2007. Indeed, “Turning the Corner” provided the groundwork for Canada’s approach to tackling climate change. According to the document, the priority is to realign policies and regulations in order to maintain economic prosperity while protecting the environment and harmonising the regulatory framework with the United States, its largest trading partner. Regulations in the Action Plan require intensity-based targets for a variety of industrial sectors of 6% each year between 2007 and 2010, with a further 2% intensity reduction each year to 2015.

Sub-national level

Despite the lack of comprehensive federal legislation, provinces have been active in passing their own climate legislation. At Lima COP20 in 2014, the provinces of Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia issued a joint statement with California to lead international actions to flight climate change and collaborate for an international agreement at the Paris COP21 in 2015. British Columbia and Quebec have introduced economic incentives to reduce emissions, such as a carbon tax (up to CAD30 [USD26.44] in 2012 in British Columbia). Vehicle fuel efficiency in British Columbia and Quebec were aligned with the stringent standards in California. Ontario passed a comprehensive Green Energy and Green Economy Act in 2009, created to expand renewable energy generation, encourage energy conservation and promote the creation of clean energy jobs. The targets of the Act are to reduce emissions by 6% below 1990 levels by 2014, 15% by 2020 and 80% by 2050. It includes a feed-in tariff, energy conservation measures on all levels and a plan to shut down all coal-fired power plants by 2014. Cap-and-trade schemes have been introduced by three provinces, representing 75% of the population – Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia. Alberta’s climate change plan relies upon intensity-based targets, with a commitment to reduce GHG emissions intensity by 50% by 2050. It relies on energy efficiency, carbon capture and storage and renewable energy production.

Energy supply

According to the International Energy Agency, Canada’s primary energy is supplied by crude oil (35.4%), natural gas (21.2%), hydropower (12.2%), nuclear power (9.3%), coal (6.9%), biofuel and waste (4.6%) and other renewables such as solar and geothermal (0.4%) as of 2012. Electricity is produced largely from hydropower (60% in 2012). There is a regional variation in energy mix.

Canada has energy sources large enough to meet its needs for many generations. The energy policy published in 2013, Energy Future 2013 (EF 2013), projects energy supply and demand for 2035, and estimates that oil production would increase by 75% and natural gas production by 25% from 2012 levels. Total electricity generation is expected to increase by 27% over the period. Hydropower remains the dominant source of electricity supply to 2035. Annual hydroelectricity production and capacity is expected to expand from 376 TWh and 77GW in 2012 to 442 TWh and 65GW in 2035 respectively.

Energy demand

Canada has implemented minimum energy performance standards for a number of products since the approval of the Energy Efficiency Act in 1992. The most recent amendments increase the Act’s scope and effectiveness. The amendments also require the Minister of Natural Resources to submit an energy efficiency progress report to Parliament every three years. The Renewable Fuels Regulations that came into effect in 2010 require an average renewable fuel content of 5% in gasoline.

In 2012, regulations were announced by the federal environment minister to reduce emissions from coal-fired electricity facilities by phasing out high-emitting coal-fired generation and promoting lower or non-emitting types of generation. The regulations will set performance standards for new coal-fired units (producing electricity from 1 July 2015) and for units at the end of their “useful life” – i.e. which have been producing electricity for 50 years. Transitional regulations apply to units built before 1986. Regulated entities will be required to begin reporting emission levels two years in advance of the performance standards coming into force. The level of the performance standard will be fixed at 420 tonnes of CO2/GWh. The regulations effectively require installation of carbon capture and storage (CCS) equipment to coal-fired power stations, as emissions captured by CCS equipment are exempt from being counted towards the perfor­mance standard. Additionally, units that have CCS installed can apply for a complete exemption from the performance standard until 2025. The government estimates that 75% of coal plants will reach the end of their useful life by 2025 and 80% by 2030, and therefore will have to retrofit CCS equipment if they want to continue operating.

Energy Future 2013 projects that energy efficiency will improve by 20% per unit of economic output by 2035 compared to 2012 as a result of measures such as new passenger vehicle emission standards to improve vehicle fuel efficiency.

Transportation

In 2012 the government announced proposed regulations to reduce GHG emissions from new on-road heavy-duty vehicles, from model year 2014. The emission standards and test procedures are designed to be aligned with those of the US. The regulation was passed in 2013 and aims to reduce emissions from heavy-duty vehicles such as semi-trucks, full-size pick-ups, buses and garbage trucks by up to 23% by 2018. It sets more stringent standards for 2014-2020 model-year heavy-duty vehicles. Plans to continue the regulation beyond 2017 with more stringent standards are under consultation. A regulation for light-duty vehicles has also been proposed, which is expected to set more stringent GHG emission standards between 2017 and 2025 (3.5% reduction between 2017 and 2021, 5% reduction between 2022 and 2025). This proposed regulation is expected to save up to 50% of fuel consumption by 2025 compared to 2008 vehicles.

Adaptation

In 2008, Canada released a national science assessment of climate change impacts and adaptations. From Impacts to Adaptation: Canada in a Changing Climate used a regional approach to discuss current and future climate change impacts, vulnerabilities and adaptation options. An update on this report was made in 2014, Canada in a Changing Climate: Sector Perspectives in Impacts and Adaptation, which assessed advances made in different sectors. It identified the exacerbating impacts of climate changes in the natural environment, economic sectors and heath of citizens. Extreme weather events are key concerns and adaptation is a necessity, by means of enhanced social and economic resilience to climate change impacts. Adaptation activities include provincial guidelines for reforestation, development of community-based heat alert and response systems, provincial coastal risk assessment and revision of taxation schemes to help producers manage weather-related risk.

Energy Efficiency Act (S.C. 1992, c. 36) ( 2008 )

The Act aims to establish minimum energy efficiency standards for a broad range of products and equipment in order to decrease overall Canadian energy consumption. It gives the government of Canada the authority to make and enforce standards for the performance of energy-consuming products that are imported into Canada, or that are manufactured in Canada…read more

Canada Foundation for Sustainable Development Technology Act (S.C. 2001, c. 23) ( 2001 )

This Act establishes a not-for-profit foundation that finances and supports the development and demonstration of clean technologies which provide solutions to issues of climate change, clean air, water and soil quality, and which deliver economic, environmental and health benefits to Canadians. The foundation shall, within 5 months of the end of each fiscal year, prepare…read more

The Canadian Environmental Protection Act 1999 (CEPA 1999) (S.C. 1999, c. 33) ( 2000 )

The CEPA 1999, or the Canadian Environmental Protection Act 1999, modifies the former Canadian Environmental Protection Act of 1988. It sets out a framework to manage and control toxic substances released from all stages of economic activities: from development, manufacturing, transportation, distribution, storage, use up to disposal. This law is administered by the Environment Canada…read more

Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change ( 2016 / Mitigation and Adaptation Framework )

The Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change is an extensive document that has been developed by the Canadian government in association with the eleven provinces to lay out a mitigation strategy as well as a pathway towards a clean economy. The plan details a number of national orientations over 1) the objective of…read more

Heavy-duty Vehicle and Engine Greenhouse Gas Emission Regulations ( 2013 )

The purpose of these Regulations is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from heavy-duty vehicles and engines by establishing emission standards and test procedures that are aligned with the federal requirements of the United States. http://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/PDF/SOR-2013-24.pdf…read more

Reduction of Carbon Dioxide Emissions from Coal-fired Generation of Electricity Regulations (SOR/2012-167) ( 2012 )

These Regulations establish a regime for the reduction of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions that result from the production of electricity by means of thermal energy using coal as a fuel, whether in conjunction with other fuels or not. Marginal note:Contents (2) These Regulations are divided into four Parts as follows: (a) Part 1 sets out a performance…read more

Regulations Amending the Passenger Automobile and Light Truck Greenhouse Gas Emission Regulations, SOR/2014-207 ( 2010 )

The purpose of these Regulations is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from passenger automobiles and light trucks by establishing emission standards and test procedures that are aligned with the federal requirements of the United States. The Regulations set out: (a) prescribed classes of vehicles for the purposes of section 149 of the Act; (b) requirements…read more

Renewable Fuels Regulations (SOR/2010-189) ( 2010 )

The Renewable Fuels Regulations (the Regulations) are a key element of the Government's Renewable Fuels Strategy. The objective of the Regulations is to reduce GHG emissions by mandating an average 5% renewable fuel content based on the gasoline volume. The Regulations are estimated to result in an incremental reduction of GHG emissions of about 1 MT…read more

In re Amended and Restated Preliminary Prospectus of Kinder Morgan Canada Limited’s Initial Public Offering (Opened in 2017 )

Citation/reference number: [no citation available]
Jurisdiction: Canada
Core objective(s): Adequacy of climate change-related disclosures in Kinder Morgan Canada's IPO prospectus
Current status: Decision pending

Citing provisions of the Securities Acts of Alberta and Ontario that require public companies to disclose all material facts about their operations and business models, Greenpeace requested that Alberta's Securities Commission freeze, pending review, Kinder Morgan Canada’s initial public offering (IPO) based on alleged deficiencies in its prospectus. That prospectus, Greenpeace alleged, misled potential investors…read more

Burgess v. Ontario Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry (Opened in 2016 )

Citation/reference number: Court File No. 16-1325 CP
Jurisdiction: Canada
Core objective(s): Recover damages for failure to avert flooding
Current status: Decision pending

Ontario's Ministry of Natural Resources manages the water levels in several lakes whose surfaces would otherwise rise higher and fall lower with snow melt and precipitation. Historically, the area around the lakes has not seen flooding, but, since 2010, three different floods have damaged and destroyed private property there. In September 2016, property owners filed…read more

Syncrude Canada Ltd. v. Attorney General of Canada (Federal Court of Appeal 2016) (Opened in 2016 )

Citation/reference number: [2016] FCA 160
Jurisdiction: Canada
Core objective(s): Challenge to government’s authority to impose Renewable Fuel Regulations
Current status: Decided

In 2011, Syncrude Canada requested independent review of the regulation that requires two percent of the content of all its diesel fuels to be renewable, even what it produces for its own use. Syncrude took the case to court when Environment Canada and Climate Change Canada rejected that request, arguing that the regulation was invalid…read more

Weaver v. Corcoran & Others (British Columbia Supreme Court, Canada, 2015) (Opened in 2015 )

Citation/reference number: [2015] BCSC 165
Jurisdiction: Canada
Core objective(s): Plaintiff sought injunction against newspaper for publishing false, malicious and defamatory words.
Current status: Decided

Professor Andrew Weaver, a renown Canadian climate scientist, filed suit against the National Post, its publisher, and several journalists for defamation. Dr. Weaver’s claims arose out of the defendants’ publication of statements that allegedly injured Dr. Weaver’s reputation as a climate scientist in the context of the “Climategate” controversy. Plaintiff Weaver sought an injunction requiring…read more

Chicago Climate Exchange v. Bourse de Montreal (Trade-marks Opposition Board, 2014) (Opened in 2014 )

Citation/reference number: [2014] CarswellNat 1045
Jurisdiction: Canada
Core objective(s): Challenge trademark application
Current status: Decided

The Chicago Climate Exchange opposed an application for the trademark of the Montreal Green Exchange, a green exchange for carbon trading and other environmental products and instruments. The Chicago Climate Exchange alleged that the name of the exchange was confusing with its registered trademarks, Montreal Climate Exchange and Marche Climatique de Montreal. Due to the…read more

In the Matter of FortisBC Energy Inc.: Amendment to Rate Schedule 16 on a Permanent Basis (2013 Carswell BC 1671) (Opened in 2013 )

Citation/reference number: [2013] Carswell BC 1671
Jurisdiction: Canada
Core objective(s): Applied for approval of several proposals related to its Liquefied Natural Gas business
Current status: Decided

FortisBC Energy Inc. (FEI) applied to the British Columbia Utilities Commission for approval of several proposals related to its Liquefied Natural Gas business. The commission reviewed each proposal, ranging from matters of supply rate methodology to storage reporting requirements and incentive contracts, etc. The commission considered many of the proposals in light of promulgated greenhouse…read more

In the Matter of subsection 17(40) of the Planning Act, R.S.O 1990, P.13 as amended (Ontario Municipal Board, 2013) (Opened in 2013 )

Citation/reference number: [2013] Carswell Ont 15294
Jurisdiction: Canada
Core objective(s): City sought partial approval of the amendment its 2006 Official Plan
Current status: Decided

The City of Brampton filed a motion seeking partial approval of the amendment its 2006 Official Plan. The plan was amended to include climate change considerations with respect to transportation, sustainable development, climate change adaptation and mitigation, and energy efficiency and management. The partial approval was granted.…read more

In re 2012-2013 Revenue Requirements and Rates In the Matter of the FortisBC Energy Utilities (2012 Carswell BC 1061) (Opened in 2012 )

Citation/reference number: [2012] Carswell BC 1061
Jurisdiction: Canada
Core objective(s): Sought approval of 2012-2013 Revenue Requirements
Current status: Decided

FortisBC Energy Utilities (FEU) applied for approval of its 2012-2013 Revenue Requirements, including $64.5 million for Energy Efficiency and Conservation expenditures. The Application was filed and reviewed during a period of significant and continuing change in terms of BC Government Energy Policy and Regulation with respect to the Clean Energy Act. A portion of the…read more

Re River District Energy Limited Partnership (2011 Carswell BC 3538) (Opened in 2011 )

Citation/reference number: [2011] Carswell BC 3538
Jurisdiction: Canada
Core objective(s): British Columbia Utilities Commission granted a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN)
Current status: Decided

British Columbia Utilities Commission granted a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN) to River District Energy Limited Partnership (RDE), allowing RDE to construct and operate a District Energy Utility in southeast Vancouver. The project is found to serve the public interest and align with British Columbia’s energy objectives. The initial energy source will be…read more

Turp v. Canada (Attorney General), Federal Court of Canada FC 893, T-110-12 (Opened in 2010 )

Citation/reference number: 2012 FC 893
Jurisdiction: Canada
Core objective(s): Application by Turp for judicial review of the federal government's decision to withdraw from the Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
Current status: Decided

The Canadian executive branch has exclusive power to withdraw from treaties; the government’s decision to withdraw from the Kyoto Protocol is therefore not subject to judicial review. The Federal Court held that the 2007 Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act does not limit this inherent power of the executive branch, either expressly or by implication. Furthermore, the…read more

Friends of the Earth v. The Governor in Council et al. (Federal Court, 2008) (Opened in 2008 )

Citation/reference number: [2008] FC 1183; [2009] FCA 297
Jurisdiction: Canada
Core objective(s): Sought declaration that the government breached its duties under the KPIA
Current status: Decided

A Canadian federal court dismissed an action by a not-for-profit organization alleging that the Canadian government had breached its duties under the Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act, 2007 (KPIA). Friends of the Earth Canada sought a declaration from the court that the government had failed to meet the legal requirements of the KPIA by missing deadlines…read more

Pembina Institute for Appropriate Development, et al v. Attorney General of Canada and Imperial Oil (Federal Court of Canada, 2008) (Opened in 2008 )

Citation/reference number: [2008] FC 302
Jurisdiction: Canada
Core objective(s): Challenge to government panel approval of oil sands mine
Current status: Decided

Federal Court of Canada found legal errors in a government joint review panel’s environmental assessment of the Kearl Tar Sands Project. Ecojustice and several non-profit organizations challenged the panel’s approval of the project, alleging that it had failed to seriously consider the climate change impacts of the project. The court agreed with the petitioner, holding…read more

Citizens of Riverdale Hospital v. Bridgepoint Health Services (O.J. No. 2527, 2007) (Opened in 2007 )

Citation/reference number: [2007] O.J. No. 2527
Jurisdiction: Canada
Core objective(s): Challenge to municipal board’s decision approving the demolition of a hospital
Current status: Decided

Ontario Superior Court of Justice, Canada. A citizen’s group opposed the demolition of a hospital in the City of Toronto. Among other reasons, the group argued that the Ontario Municipal Board had failed to adequately consider the issue of greenhouse gas emissions. The Court concluded that although CO2 emissions is an important environmental concern, the…read more

Emissions More information

Rank as emitter (including LULUCF):
6-10
GHG Emissions 2007-2011 (MtCO2e)
Country-reported GHG emissions (incl. LULUCF) (MTCO2):739.49 (reporting year: 2012 )
Country-reported GHG emissions (excl. LULUCF) (MTCO2):698.63 (reporting year: 2012 )

Information More information

GHG inventory:1990, 2000, 2012
Climate risk assessment:Canada in Changing Climate: Sector Perspectives on Impact and Adaptation (2014)

Targets

Economy wide targets - Up to (and including) 2020

Source:
    Economy-wide targets - Beyond 2020

    GHG emissions reduction of 30% by 2030 compared to 2005 levels.

    Source:
    • Country's iNDC
    Targets - Energy demand

    Performance standard of coal-fired electricity facilities set at 420 tonnes CO2/GW

    Source:
    Targets - LULUCF

    None

    Targets - Renewables

    Increase renewable content of gasoline to 5% by 2010, and renewable content of diesel and heating oil by 2% by 2012

    Source:
    • Biofuel Bill C-33: An Act to amend 1115
    Targets- Transport

    Reduce 23% of emission from heavy-duty vehicles by 2018

    Source:
    • Heavy-duty Vehicle and Engine Greenhouse Gas Emission Regulations P.C. 2013-160 (2013), amended in 1115

    Policies

    GHG Mitigation framework More information

    Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change

    Source:
    • 8327
    Adaptation framework More information

    Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change

    Source:
    • 8327
    Policies - Carbon pricing

    None

    Policies - Promotion of low-carbon energy (inc. renewables)

    Establish foundation to finance and support clean technology development, annual report

    Source:
    Policies - Energy demand

    Minimum energy efficienct standards, labelling requirement

    Source:
    Policies - Transport

    None

    Policies - LULUCF

    None

    The Parliament is the federal legislative branch and legislative assemblies are based on the British model. It consists of the Senate (105 members appointed by the governor general on the advice of the prime minister) and the House of Commons (308 members elected for a maximum of five years). Representation in both chambers is according to population in the provinces. General elections are held on the third Monday of October of the fourth calendar year after the previous poll. They can also be called by the prime minister if the government loses the confidence of the legislature. The last federal election was held in October 2015 and the next is expected for 2019, unless the Governor General dissolves Parliament earlier.

    The law-making process starts with a bill, which can be introduced in the House of Commons (C-bills) or the Senate (S-bills). Public bills may be initiated by a minister (government bills) or private members. Private bills are founded on a petition signed by those interested in promoting it and introduced in either chamber. Bills that seem to be both public and private in nature are called hybrid bills. Bills to appropriate any part of the public revenue, such as tax or impost, shall originate in the House of commons (“money votes”). A bill goes through certain formal stages in each House. The stages include a series of three readings during which parliamentarians debate the bill. Prior to the third and final reading, each House also sends the bill to a committee where members examine the finer points of the legislation. Committee members hear witness testimony on the bill, and then subject it to a clause-by-clause study based on the testimony. Canada retains the Sovereign of the United Kingdom as its head of state. All laws are formally enacted by the Sovereign “by and with the advice and consent” of the Senate and House of Commons. Once both Houses have approved a bill, it is presented for Royal Assent and becomes law (named Act or Regulation).

    The Constitution divides the legislative abilities between the federal and provincial governments. Provincial legislatures may pass laws relating to topics explicitly reserved for them by the Constitution.

    Canada Gazette, 2012. Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 – Reduction of Carbon Dioxide Emissions from Coal-fired Generation of Electricity Regulations – P.C. 2012-1060 August 30, 2012. Vol. 146.19, September 12 [http://www.gazette.gc.ca/rp-pr/p2/2012/2012-09-12/html/sor-dors167-eng.html. Accessed 15 December 2012.

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    Parliament of Canada, 2011. 41st Parliament, 1st Session, Bill C-224, Climate Change Accountability Act [http://www.parl.gc.ca/LegisInfo/BillDetails.aspx?Language=E&Mode=1&billId=5087216& View=0]. Accessed 14 September 2012.

    Parliament of Canada, Elections, 2014. [http://www.parl.gc.ca/parlinfo/compilations/ElectionsAndRidings/Elections.aspx?Menu=ElectionsRidings-Election]. Accessed 20 November 2014.

    Queen’s Printer for Ontario, 2014. Joint Statement on Climate Change. [http://www.ontario.ca/environment-and-energy/joint-statement-climate-change]. Accessed 20 January 2015.

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    Last modified 21 August, 2017