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October 23, 2014

Climate Change Back at the Top of the Environmental Agenda

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More than 300,000 people took part in the People's Climate March on September 21, 2014 in New York – the single largest climate protest in history. The march coincided with last month's United Nations Climate Summit in New York, which was organized, in part, to prepare for a critical climate change meeting in Lima, Peru, in December 2014, followed by an ultimate meeting in December 2015 in Paris.

The New York event prompted the federal government to announce developments on four new regulatory initiatives to reduce vehicle greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions:

  • On September 27, 2014, Canada published proposed amendments to the On-Road Vehicle and Engine Emission Regulations and the Sulphur in Gasoline Regulations – designed to bring Canada's permissible levels of emissions from light vehicles and sulphur content in gasoline in line with US Tier 3 standards.
  • On October 4, 2014, Canada published a Notice of Intent to develop regulations to further reduce GHG emissions from on-road heavy-duty vehicles and engines for post-2018 model years.
  • On October 8, 2014, Final Regulations Amending the Passenger Automobile and Light Truck Greenhouse Gas Emission Regulations were published in Canada Gazette Part 1. 
  • On September 23, 2014, Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq announced that Canada will publish a Notice of Intent to regulate hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) - a potent source of GHG emissions. [see page 4644 of this issue of CERCN].

However, the flurry of announcements failed to obscure a scathing assessment released on October 7, 2014, by Canada’s new Commissioner for the Environment and Sustainable Development, Julie Gelfand. The report noted that, although the federal government has completed draft emissions regulations for the oil and gas sector, it has failed to release them publicly. Moreover, the report claims that the federal government has no firm plans to monitor the oil sands beyond next year; and that federal emissions reduction plans will have "little effect" leading up to the Copenhagen 2020 target. "I think that when you make a commitment, you need to keep it," Ms. Gelfand - a former mining industry executive - said. "... Canada is not working with the provinces. There’s no overall... national plan, for how we’re going to achieve our target."

CWWA has a very active Climate Change Committee which has been working at identifying and communicating the impacts of climate change on municipal water and wastewater services as well as how water and wastewater operations are contributing to the problem. We are launching a national survey directed towards water and wastewater managers to determine the level of perception/knowledge of water utilities on climate change impacts, preparedness and resources required. This survey will help CWWA produce tools to help our members and will be shared with federal departments who are developing policies and programs to help municipalities cope with climate change.


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