Federal Green "Clean Air Act" a Disappointing Shad

Federal Green "Clean Air Act" a Disappointing Shad

Postby Oscar » Sun Nov 12, 2006 6:28 pm

Federal Green "Clean Air Act" a Disappointing Shade of Brown

Pembina E-news Fall 2006

This month's unveiling of the federal government's Clean Air Act leaves the planet smoldering on the backburner. The Act is a disappointment, calling for more consultation and a wait of four years before regulations set any limits on greenhouse gas pollution from heavy industry. The bill, and the Notice of Intent to regulate that accompanied it, never mentioned Canada's international obligations under the Kyoto Protocol. While Kyoto requires Canada's emissions to be reduced starting in 2008, the government's approach has no national absolute target for greenhouse gas reductions until 2050.

This approach serves to further delay real action on reducing Canada's greenhouse gases and air pollution. According to Pembina's analysis, the bill also weakens the federal government's ability to regulate greenhouse gases and air pollution by creating a new legal category for them, rather than relying on the existing authority in the Canadian Environmental Protection Act. The three opposition parties in Parliament have committed to voting against the Clean Air Act, which means that the Clean Air Act will almost certainly be defeated.

While the government did not enjoy much success in this instance, Pembina still hopes to see leadership from Ottawa on regulating greenhouse gas pollution from heavy industry, and Parliament is still working towards Kyoto. This month, the Environment Committee will study a private member's bill called the Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act. All three opposition parties support this bill, which would require the government to meet Canada's Kyoto target.

Download Pembina's Preliminary Analysis of the Clean Air Act at:

http://www.pembina.org/pubs/doc.php?id=1315
Oscar
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Clean Air Act: Delay and Disingenuity

Postby Oscar » Sun Nov 12, 2006 7:34 pm

Clean Air Act: Delay and Disingenuity

Green Gazette - November 2006

Sierra Club of Canada's monthly electronic newsletter


The Harper government introduced its Clean Air act on October 19th, which amounts to little more than a recipe for delay. The government has thrown out Kyoto’s 2010 targets and failed to even mention Canada’s obligations under Kyoto at all during the announcement.

The act itself lacks meaningful targets, sets most timelines in the distant future, and focuses on emissions intensity—all of which guarantee continued rising pollution levels in Canada. The only definite element is more consultation—potentially delaying real action for years

There will be no actual reductions in greenhouse gases or air pollution prior to 2010, and regulation will not be in place until 2010. This assumes that the Clean Air Act will be passed in a timely manner, which is unlikely.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper needs to hear from you. Call him at 613-992-4211 and tell him that Canada needs to address the climate crisis now, not in another half decade.

Read Sierra Club of Canada’s press release and our coverage in the Toronto Star below:

SCC - IN THE NEWS

Clean-air bill 'smog, mirrors': Critics

Mainly public relations ploy, opposition says Bill contains no standards or reduction targets

By Peter Gorrie, Environment Writer
Toronto Star
October 20, 2006

OTTAWA—The federal government moved yesterday to give itself new powers to combat the pollution that causes climate change, smog and toxic indoor air.

But apart from a pledge to cut greenhouse gas emissions by about half by 2050, the proposed Clean Air Act contains no efficiency standards or reduction targets.

Instead, the legislation, which amends three existing laws, would set the stage for years of consultations and negotiations with industries and the provinces on what rules should eventually be imposed.

The announcement was the first step in the Conservative government's Green Plan, the alternative to the previous Liberal government's climate-change measures.

"Past governments relied on voluntary measures," Environment Minister Rona Ambrose said. "Those days are over. From now on, industry will face mandatory requirements, and we will enforce them."

It's a realistic plan that tells business the government "has a firm intention to regulate," but "allows business to take the time to make the right decisions," said Nancy Hughes Anthony, president of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce.

But critics said the proposed law merely delays action and appears to be a public relations ploy. The government already has all the powers it needs to regulate pollution, they said. And even the far-off target for 2050 is lower than the reduction scientists agree is needed to prevent the worst impacts of climate change, and that Europe and some American states have adopted.

"They're not going to do anything: This is a (law) for inaction," said John Bennett, of the Sierra Club of Canada. Industry and government have been consulting for years and know what to do, Bennett said. "To suggest that you have to consult once more ... is ludicrous."

Years of meetings "are all thrown away," said Matthew Bramley, of the Pembina Institute. "We start from scratch."

"Instead of using existing legislation and acting immediately, the Conservatives have delivered vague promises to regulate polluters sometime in the coming decades," said Hugh Wilkins, a lawyer with Sierra Legal Defence Fund. The Conservatives "are proposing that greenhouse gas emissions should be allowed to continue to rise for the next 20 years."

"It's all smog and mirrors," said Liberal environment critic John Godfrey. "It's simply confusing people. The signal to industry is, relax ... we're on your side."

It's not clear the House of Commons will vote on the legislation before an election is called. And critics suggested that's what it's all about.

"The intent of this action is to get the ... Conservatives through a federal election by being able to claim that they've done something for the environment, and instead what they've produced is consultations leading to potential regulations leading to no action on climate," said Green party leader Elizabeth May.

All the opposition parties said they would vote against the legislation.

The plan would attack the air pollution that creates smog, which kills an estimated 5,800 people in Ontario each year, and greenhouse gases, which are causing climate change.

Smog pollutants would face fixed caps from the start. Greenhouse gas targets, on the other hand, would be "intensity-based" — allowed to rise as production increases — in the 2010-2015 and 2020-2025 periods. Only in the long term, 2050, would fixed caps be imposed.

Consultations are to begin this fall, with national short-term targets to be set by spring, followed by negotiations on limits for individual industries and products. Final regulations are to be in place by the end of 2010. Some would come into effect then; others, "as soon as possible" after that date. Medium- and long-term standards and targets would be set later.

However, as a small, quick first step, regulations are to be imposed during the next 12 months on minor sources of greenhouse gas emissions, including snowmobiles, jet skis, motorcycles, and off-road diesel engines. Rules will also be established for a few products, such as paint and car finishes, that produce smog or impair indoor air quality. Ambrose defended the lengthy consultations and long wait for targets. Industries need time to develop the technology required to meet targets, she said. "This doesn't happen at the flip of a switch."

Fuel consumption standards for cars will match those in the United States — although not the stringent regulations imposed by California. Any new rules won't come into effect until the 2011 model year, after the current five-year voluntary agreement with the auto industry expires.
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