A Climate Change Plan for the Purposes of the Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act

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The Government of Canada takes the challenge of climate change seriously and has a plan for reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in a way that achieves real environmental and economic benefits for all Canadians.

Canada is committed to reducing its economy-wide GHG emissions by 17% below 2005 levels by 2020, which is equivalent to reducing Canada’s 2020 emissions to 607 megatonnes (Mt). This target was set internationally in the Copenhagen Accord, and is aligned with that of the United States (U.S.). Our target was formally reiterated in the Cancun Agreement, adopted in December 2010.

Canada has been an active participant in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) since its establishment, and has been working with international partners to negotiate a new fair and effective international climate change agreement for the post-2012 period. In December 2010, Canada participated in the 16th Conference of the Parties (COP16) to the UNFCCC in Cancun, Mexico. COP16 culminated with the Cancun Agreement, which acknowledges that all major emitters need to take action in order to succeed in effectively addressing climate change. The Agreement also provides a framework to formally anchor the GHG emission reduction pledges of all major economies, both developed and developing, as listed in the Copenhagen Accord (the main outcome of COP15). Countries with emission reduction targets or commitments under the Agreement are responsible for more than 85% of GHG emissions. Finally, the Cancun Agreement introduces reforms that will increase the transparency and accountability of all countries in meeting their targets.

Developing countries are increasingly important players in global efforts to combat climate change.  However, many developing countries will also be the most severely impacted by the negative impacts of climate change and have limited capacities and resources to adapt. Therefore, as part of Canada’s commitment to support developing countries in effectively addressing climate change, it is providing $400 million in new and additional climate change financing. This funding represents part of Canada’s share of the US$30 billion of fast-start financing for 2010-2012 pledged by developed countries under the Copenhagen Accord, and reiterated in the Cancun Agreement, to support climate change mitigation and adaptation in developing countries.

Over the last several years, the Government has undertaken a number of initiatives to achieve domestic GHG reductions. These measures include regulations, codes and standards, targeted investments and incentives, and tax measures. In addition to developing programs that directly reduce emissions, Canada also put in place complementary measures aimed at educating consumers and providing businesses and the general public with an array of options for reducing their environmental impact.

Going forward, the Government has announced that it will focus on a sector-by-sector regulatory approach, beginning with the largest sources of emissions. Given the high degree of economic integration between Canada and the U.S., Canada’s approach will be aligned with that of the U.S. where it is appropriate and in Canada’s best interests to do so. This regulatory agenda will continue to be supported by targeted complementary measures designed to advance Canada’s transition to a clean energy economy.

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Under Canada’s plan to address climate change, actions have already been taken regarding two of the largest sources of GHG emissions: the electricity2 and transportation3 sectors. Together, these sectors accounted for 39% of national emissions in 20054 and addressing them will yield important results and move Canada closer to meeting its 2020 target. Overall, the actions that have been taken or announced by the federal and provincial governments are projected to reduce emissions by about 65 Mt by 2020, bringing Canada one quarter of the way to meeting its 2020 target level of 607 Mt.

There is more work to be done in order to close the remaining gap. The Government will continue to execute its comprehensive climate change plan by developing and implementing additional regulatory measures and strengthening existing ones. The Government’s plan will reduce emissions in the short, medium, and long terms, while maintaining Canada’s economic competitiveness and the ability to create jobs for Canadians.

This 2011 Climate Change Plan for the Purposes of the Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act does not include a comprehensive inventory of climate change actions taken by the Government of Canada. Rather, only federal actions that will result in emission reductions during the Kyoto Protocol compliance period (2008-2012) are included in this Plan. As such, the measures contained in this Plan should be viewed as part of Canada’s broader approach to addressing GHG emissions and the challenges associated with climate change.

Commitment to Transparency

Section 10 of the Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act (KPIA) requires the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy (NRTEE) to review each annual Climate Change Plan within 60 days after it is published. Additionally, the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development (CESD) is required to prepare a report on the Plans at least once every two years. At present, the NRTEE has provided reviews of the 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2010 Plans. The CESD’s review of the 2007 and 2008 Plans was completed in 2009 and its review of the 2009 and 2010 Plans will be published in the future. Wherever possible and appropriate, the Government has adapted each Climate Change Plan and improved reporting based on observations and recommendations made by the NRTEE and the CESD.

In the first KPIA Plan of 2007, the Government provided individual emission reduction projections for each measure as required by the Act. In its subsequent review, the NRTEE recommended that the Government account for interaction effects between programs that could result in an overstatement of reductions. Starting with the 2008 Plan, the Government has used a modelling approach to provide an integrated report of measures, in addition to reporting the expected reductions for each measure consistent with the requirements of the Act. Overall integrated estimates differ from the aggregate of the individual measures because the former account for interaction effects. The NRTEE welcomed this methodological change, noting that the 2008 Plan was a “significant improvement” from the 2007 Plan. The NRTEE also acknowledged improvements in the level of detail provided for each measure in the 2008 Plan.

Further improvement continued in the 2009 Plan with refinements based on recommendations from the CESD. For example, the Plan provided uncertainty analysis for the greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions associated with most measures and included emission reduction ranges. The 2009 Plan also provided greater detail on the provisions for a just transition for workers affected by emission reduction measures, as well as on efforts to ensure an equitable distribution of emission reductions across sectors of the economy (both required by the Act). Finally, greater detail was provided on the implementation status of the measures.

The 2010 Plan further reflected the Government’s commitment to continuously improve its reporting on GHG emission reduction measures. In its 2008 report on managing air emissions, the CESD observed that estimates of GHG reductions attributed to the Clean Air and Climate Change Trust Fund were unreliable and not supported by adequate analytical rigour. In the development of the 2010 Plan, government officials contacted provincial and territorial colleagues requesting descriptions of measures put in place using Trust Fund resources, as well as estimates of expected emission reductions from those measures. A number of provinces and territories responded, and their input was reflected in the emission reductions identified in the 2010 Plan and reflected in the modelling of a baseline scenario. As recommended by NRTEE in its response to the 2009 Plan, the integrated modelling in the 2010 Plan also used consistent definitions of emission reductions, which the NRTEE welcomed as helping to provide a more reliable estimation of emission reduction.

In addition, the 2010 Plan responded, as far as was feasible, to a 2009 CESD recommendation to report on actual GHG emission reductions achieved over the Kyoto period (2008-2012). Each year, in accordance with UNFCCC reporting requirements, the Government of Canada publishes a National GHG Emissions Inventory. As the Inventory process takes two years to complete, 2010 was the first year for which actual data covering the Kyoto compliance period was available. Since 2010, Environment Canada has used the GHG emission estimates included in the Inventory to provide actual national emissions in the KPIA Plans. At a program level, however, the Government’s ability to respond to this recommendation is limited by the nature of the Inventory statistics. Providing data on actual reductions achieved on a measure-by-measure basis is not feasible because data on actual emissions is not available at the required level of disaggregation. Nevertheless, the Government of Canada responded to the CESD recommendation by committing to provide, where possible, estimated emission reductions achieved for the measures in the Plan, clearly indicating the methodology used. In its review of the 2010 Plan, the NRTEE applauded the continued improvement in forecasting, methodology, and additional transparency.

The current Plan includes improvements to the information provided on each measure and program details are now presented in a new layout to facilitate linkages to the Act to ensure greater transparency and accountability. In addition, the 2011 Plan provides greater clarity on the consistency of quality assurance and verification systems, by improving the description of methodologies, calculations, and assumptions, including a specific explanation of how the criterion of additionality was defined and met. Finally, improved sensitivity analyses have been developed and integrated into the Plan particularly as it relates to the reference case and alternative scenarios.

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2  For more information on the coal-fired electricity regulations, please see: Key Elements of Proposed Regulatory Approach (http://www.ec.gc.ca/default.asp?lang=En&n=714D9AAE-1&news=55D09108-5209-43B0-A9D1-347E1769C2A5) and Canada’s Electricity Story (http://www.ec.gc.ca/default.asp?lang=En&n=714D9AAE-1&news=0A6CF209-AF7A-4913-A27F-527B4ECF811B)

3  For more information on regulating the transportation sector, please see: Regulating On-road GHG Emissions (http://www.ec.gc.ca/default.asp?lang=En&n=714D9AAE-1&news=0F384925-9836-4936-B20F-A551607EEC95) and Key Features of Canada’s Passenger Automobile and Light Truck Greenhouse Gas Emission Regulations (http://www.ec.gc.ca/default.asp?lang=En&n=714D9AAE-1&news=4EF678F8-D8EE-404E-8F31-4F85289FCCC8)

4  Canada’s Greenhouse Gas Target and Emissions Projections (http://www.climatechange.gc.ca/default.asp?lang=En&n=DC025A76-1).

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