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As a founding member of the Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC), Canada recognizes the importance of reducing short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs) - including black carbon, methane, ground-level ozone, and hydrofluorocarbons - as part of its broader climate change and clean air agenda. Action on these pollutants is particularly important to Canada’s North, a region that is warming faster than the rest of the planet, in part as a result of SLCPs such as black carbon. Canada is taking a holistic approach to addressing SLCPs as part of its comprehensive strategies to address climate change and air quality.
For the period 2016-2018, Canada is serving as co-chair of the CCAC Working Group. Canada is also co-leading several CCAC initiatives in collaboration with other CCAC partners including on agriculture, heavy duty diesel vehicles and engines, hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), and municipal solid waste. Canada is also a partner in CCAC’s Oil and Gas Initiative – chairing the technology demonstration component and acting as lead partner of the Methane Partnership. More on Canada's engagement with the CCAC.
Canada is taking action through a range of air pollution regulations that will reduce emissions of SLCPs across key emitting sectors throughout the country. The Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change outlines Canada’s plan to address climate change while growing the economy and building resilience. In addition to outlining action to address long-lived greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide through actions across key sectors of the economy, it also advances SLCP mitigation objectives.
The Government of Canada has already taken action on SLCPs through implementation of air pollutant regulations targeting ozone precursors, and particulate matter including black carbon. Canada continues to implement its nation-wide Air Quality Management System to reduce emissions of air pollutants from industrial sources, as well as a suite of air pollution regulations for the transportation sector that reduce emissions of key SLCPs.
Canada has adopted world-leading air pollutant emission regulations for a broad range of on-road and off-road vehicles and engines which address ozone precursors, and consequently, reduce black carbon. Federal regulations for sulphur in gasoline and diesel fuel also contribute to reductions in emissions of ozone precursors and fine particulate matter. Provincial and territorial measures to minimize air emissions include transportation programs and policies such as motor vehicle inspections and scrappage programs.
In 2013, Canada published final regulations to limit air pollutants and greenhouse gas emissions from marine shipping in Canadian coastal waters. Draft emissions regulations for the rail sector were published in 2016, including exhaust emission standards for particulate matter.
Canada already has one of the cleanest electricity systems in the world, with about 80% of its electricity production coming from non-emitting sources. In 2012, the federal government published stringent performance standards for coal-fired electricity aimed at transitioning electricity generation increasingly toward lower- or non-emitting sources. In 2016, the Government of Canada announced its intention to accelerate the phase out of traditional coal-fired generating units to help achieve Canada’s goal of moving to 90% non-emitting electricity by 2030. To support the transition away from coal towards cleaner sources of generation, performance standards for natural gas-fired electricity are also being developed. Accelerating the transition from coal to clean energy will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and significantly improve air quality and the health of Canadians.
Many remote communities in northern Canada continue to rely on off-grid electricity generation from stationary diesel engines. Government initiatives aimed at reducing reliance on diesel in remote northern communities will reduce black carbon emissions, which will positively impact both climate change and air quality.
Oil and Gas
Canada is committed to reducing methane emissions from the oil and gas sector by 40-45 percent below 2012 levels by 2025. This sector is the largest source of both methane and volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions in the country. Because methane and VOCs are both ozone precursors, and are released by many of the same sources in the oil and gas sector, reductions will help reduce tropospheric ozone. Some provinces are also planning measures to meet similar methane emission reduction targets. Canada published new proposed methane regulations for the oil and gas sector in April 2017.
Air Quality Management System
In collaboration with provinces and territories, the Government of Canada is protecting the health and environment of Canadians through its Air Quality Management System (AQMS). This system includes both regulatory and non-regulatory measures that target harmful air pollutant emissions from key industrial sectors and sets new ambient air quality standards. In 2013, the Government of Canada established more stringent and comprehensive outdoor air quality standards for fine particulate matter (a component of which is black carbon) and ground-level ozone. Both fine particulate matter and ground-level ozone are the main components of smog. These standards provide the drivers for provinces and territories to take action to reduce ambient air pollutant concentrations and prevent exceedance of the standards within their jurisdiction.
In June 2016, the first set of mandatory industrial air pollution emissions standards in Canada came into force. In terms of SLCPs, the Multi-Sector Air Pollutants Regulations establish requirements for nitrogen oxide emissions (an ozone precursor) from boilers and heaters and stationary spark-ignition engines operated in various industrial sectors, and nitrogen oxides (an ozone precursor) and sulphur dioxide from cement manufacturing facilities.
The Government is continuing the implementation of the Air Quality Management System (AQMS) in collaboration with the provinces and territories. In May 2016, as part of the Government’s role in implementing the AQMS, the Government published, non-regulatory pollution control instruments to reduce emissions from the iron and steel, and aluminum industries. ECCC also published proposed instruments for seven sectors, including: two codes of practice (for the potash sector and the pulp and paper sector), one pollution prevention planning notice for the steel sector; guidelines for new stationary combustion turbines and three performance agreements (for the aluminum sector, the iron ore pellets sector and five company-specific performance agreements for the base metals smelting sector).
Federal and provincial regulations prohibit the release of HFCs from refrigeration and air conditioning equipment and mandate HFC recovery from these and other closed systems. Complementing these regulations, Canada has published an Environmental Code of Practice outlining best practices to minimize and eliminate emissions of halocarbon refrigerants when operating and servicing refrigeration and air conditioning equipment. Requirements for the preparation and implementation of pollution prevention plans for sound end-of-life management of halocarbon refrigerants were also recently published.
In 2016, Canada established a federal permitting and reporting system for the import, export and manufacture of HFCs. Canada has also proposed regulatory measures to phase down its domestic consumption of HFCs and prohibit the import and manufacture of certain products containing or designed to contain HFCs.
Black Carbon Inventory
Canada’s first Black Carbon Inventory was released in 2015 for the 2013 year, and is published annually to the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) to meet a voluntary obligation under the Gothenburg Protocol and as part of Canada’s Arctic Council commitments. It quantifies black carbon emissions, providing improved understanding of the relative importance of different emissions sources. This supports the prioritization of measures to reduce black carbon emissions and assessment of the impact of these measures over time. Residential wood combustion is the second most significant source of black carbon in Canada, as well as one of the largest sources of particulate matter, VOCs and some air toxics (including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), dioxins and furans) and a key contributor to wintertime smog.
Wood Burning Appliances
The Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment has led two major initiatives in Canada to reduce various sources of black carbon and other air pollutants from residential wood combustion. First, The Model Municipal By-law for Regulating Wood burning Appliances lays out options for domestic mitigation measures for emissions in several jurisdictions across Canada. Measures include restrictions on fuel types, suggested no-burn days, and the provision of information on the proper installation of wood-burning appliances. Second, the Code of Practice for Residential Wood Burning Appliances (2012) assists jurisdictions with implementing more stringent regulations, developing economic incentives, and launching educational initiatives to reduce residential wood burning emissions.
The waste sector accounts for approximately 26% of national methane emissions. While some provinces and territories have regulations or guidelines for landfill gas capture, the Specific Mitigation Opportunities Working Group Report (Mitigation Report) says further capture is possible. Canada, in consultation with provinces and territories, will identify further regulations or other measures to require or incent additional capture of landfill gas. Food waste reduction and organics diversion also represent significant opportunities to reduce emissions from the waste sector, particularly since food waste and other organic materials are the source of methane emissions from landfills. Under United Nations Sustainable Development goals, and in the recent North American Leaders Summit joint action plan, Canada committed to work towards reducing food waste by 50% through development of a national food policy.
Collaborating under the Arctic Council
Recognizing that the Arctic is warming considerably faster than other regions of the globe, and that reducing black carbon and methane emissions can lead to substantial near-term benefits both from a health and climate perspective, in 2013, the Arctic Council established a Task Force for Action on Black Carbon and Methane. The task force was a priority initiative under Canada’s Arctic Council Chairmanship (2013-15), and delivered the Framework for Enhanced Action on Black Carbon and Methane Emissions Reductions. As part of these commitments, the Framework establishes a two-year reporting process through which an expert group reports on collective progress and makes policy recommendations to Arctic Ministers. The Framework also committed Arctic States to develop a black carbon goal.
Global Methane Initiative
The Global Methane Initiative (GMI) is a voluntary, multilateral partnership that aims to reduce global methane emissions and to advance the abatement, recovery, and use of methane as a valuable clean energy source. Since 2004, it has mobilized a network of over 1,300 public and private sector organizations, and leveraged nearly $480 million in investment from private companies and financial institutions. GMI's efforts are focused in five key areas: oil and gas systems; municipal solid waste and wastewater; agriculture and coal mining. Canada has been an active member of GMI since 2005. Canada is co-chairing the Steering Committee for the 2017-2018 period.
Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution
The Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution (LRTAP Convention) under the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe is the only international instrument dealing with air pollution, and the Gothenburg Protocol to the LRTAP Convention is the first formal agreement to include SLCPs, namely black carbon and ozone. Canada is a member of the UNECE and an active participant in LRTAP discussions, providing leadership in key positions and strategic policy advice. In 2016, a Canadian official was elected to be Chair of the Working Group on Strategies and Review, the principal negotiating body for the LRTAP Convention.
Working with the International Maritime Organization (IMO)
Canada is providing expert technical support, policy advice, and emissions testing expertise relating to air pollutant and greenhouse gas emissions from ships, as the IMO (the UN agency responsible for setting global standards applicable to international shipping) develops and implements a work plan to assess the impacts of black carbon emissions from ships on the Arctic environment. Canada also provides input to the IMO relating to fugitive VOCs from tankers.
Implementing the Kigali Amendment
Canada was one of the first countries to ratify the Montreal Protocol in 1987.The Montreal Protocol has achieved unparalleled success in eliminating ozone-depleting substances worldwide over the past 30 years. In 2009, Canada, along with Mexico and the U.S., began promoting the phase-down of HFCs, which were developed as replacements for ozone-depleting substances that had been phased out. In October 2016, parties to the Montreal Protocol adopted the Kigali amendment to phase down the consumption and production of HFCs. Implementation of the Kigali amendment could avoid up to 0.5 degrees Celsius of warming by the end of the century; this is a significant step towards limiting global warming to under two degrees, as committed under the Paris Agreement.
Endorsing the World Bank Zero Routine Flaring initiative
In the interest of achieving zero routine flaring by 2030, Canada will work with the provinces and territories to implement consistent regulatory requirements to continue efforts towards eliminating routine flaring, recognizing that flaring for certain specific circumstances, such as safety or emergency reasons, may still need to occur. A number of Canadian regulators in provinces across the country have already taken action to eliminate routine flaring. These measures will ultimately reduce emissions of black carbon, CO2 and other pollutants.
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