Canada's 2014 plans

We will discuss the federal, Ontario and Toronto plans.

In 2014 Environment Canada published a Climate Action Plan. It is no longer available online but here is what we wrote about it at the time: 

Critiques are in the footnotes below.

To meet this ambitious target, Canada will proceed on three parallel pathways, with strong domestic, continental and international action. To this end, we are:

  • 1 - implementing tough new regulations to limit greenhouse gas emissions from the automotive sector through Environment Canada's Passenger Automobile and Light Truck Greenhouse Gas Emission Regulations
  • 2 - implementing Renewable Fuel Regulations,  requiring an average renewable fuel content of five percent in gasoline that will come into effect starting December 15, 2010;
  • 3 - working with the United States to regulate emissions from heavy-duty trucks;
  • 4 - introducing new regulations on coal-fired electricity generation that will have a significant impact on reducing emissions from the electricity sector, thereby making one of the cleanest electricity systems in the world even cleaner;
  • 5 - continuing to advance the Clean Energy Dialogue with the United States and collaborate on clean energy research and development, the development and deployment of clean energy technologies and building a more efficient electricity grid based on clean and renewable energy;
  • 6 - investing in green infrastructure, energy efficiency, clean energy technologies and the production of cleaner energy and cleaner fuels as shown through the Government of Canada's investment of more than $10 billion since 2006;
  • 7 - providing new investments totaling $190 million to support a cleaner, more sustainable environment in Budget 2010;
  • 8 - playing an active and constructive role at the UN climate change talks;
  • 9 - working constructively to implement the Copenhagen Accord and to complete the negotiations under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) for a legally binding post-2012 agreement that is fair, effective and comprehensive;  and
  • 10 - contributing $400 million in new and additional climate change financing for the 2010-2011 fiscal year as part of Canada's commitment under the Copenhagen Accord to provide our fair share of fast-start financing. The financing will go towards supporting developing countries' efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change, with a focus on three priority areas - adaptation, clean energy, and forests and agriculture.


* the notes on Bio-fuels come from Adriana Mugnatto-Hamu. John Streicker also provided some information about the relative costs of bio-fuels and other means of reducing GHGs (see comment below.)

1. The regulations state:

"Companies may purchase credits from the Receiver General at a rate of $20 per megagram [tonne] of carbon dioxide-equivalent (CO2e) emissions to offset a deficit incurred for the 2011 model year." - it is not clear whether companies can continue to purchase credits after 2011.


"The regulations establish fleet average greenhouse gas (GHG) emission standards aligned with applicable standards under the U.S. national fuel economy program." This applies to all years. Canada has no standards.

"The fleet average GHG emission standards become progressively more stringent with each new model year from 2012-2016." I could find no numbers to explain what "more stringent" means.

The US regulations state:

"The final combined EPA and NHTSA standards that make up the first phase of this National Program apply to passenger cars, light-duty trucks, and medium-duty passenger vehicles, covering model years 2012 through 2016. They require these vehicles to meet an estimated combined average emissions level of 250 grams of carbon dioxide per mile, equivalent to 35.5 miles per gallon (MPG) if the automobile industry were to meet this carbon dioxide level solely through fuel economy improvements. Together, these standards will cut greenhouse gas emissions by an estimated 960 million metric tons [tonnes] and 1.8 billion barrels of oil over the lifetime of the vehicles sold under the program (model years 2012-2016)."

In Europe they have much higher fuel efficiencies.

"CSI found that the number of vehicle models sold in the United States that achieve combined gas mileage of at least 40 miles per gallon actually has dropped from five in 2005 to just two in 2007 — the Honda Civic hybrid and the Toyota Prius hybrid.

"Overseas, primarily in Europe, there are 113 vehicles for sale that get a combined 40 mpg, up from 86 in 2005. Combined gas mileage is the average of a vehicle’s city and highway mpg numbers."

2. Bio-fuels

Bio-fuels "may" reduce emissions but they do so at the cost of reducing food stocks. There is also concern that bio-fuels reduce MPG (or KPK?) so they may have no significant effect on GHGs.

*A number of studies have suggested that it actually uses more energy in production than it delivers for the vehicle, and most of that energy would presumably be of fossil origin. So it may actually increase emissions.

Probably the most authoritative recent report comes from the USDA. It recognizes the dispute but puts a hopeful spin on progress in the industry toward greater efficiency.  Still, even this optimistic study puts the net efficiency of ethanol at 21,105 BTUs per gallon (less than 20% of the energy delivery of gasoline), and 2/3 of this is actually not in the vehicle but in energy credits for co-products. So in the car itself, the ethanol delivers a net energy value of about 6% of a gallon of gasoline

Now if we take a new fuel efficiency standard that mandates 5% bio-fuel content in gasoline, then cars will produce 6/100 of 5/100 = 3/1000 or 0.3% fewer emissions in the most optimistic case.

Keep in mind that ethanol production in the United States takes up almost 1/3 of the corn crop

It is also significant that the bio-fuels regulation was made jointly by the Minister of Agriculture and the Minister of the Environment.

3. Working with the US

Working with the US is not (in itself) action. As with most of the Canadian government's "strong actions" there are no numbers or dates.

4. Coal-fired Electricity Generation

These regulations have not been published yet and even so are not planned to take effect until July 2015

"Draft regulations to reduce GHGs from the electricity sector are expected to be published in Canada Gazette early in 2011 and final regulations published later that year. This will allow sufficient time for consultations and outreach with industry and other stakeholders. Regulations are scheduled to come into effect on July 1, 2015."

5. Dialogue with US

Dialogue is not action.

6. Clean energy technologies

"Clean energy technologies" is often a euphemism for Carbon Capture and Storage/Sequestration, a technology that is still being developed and which has not yet been proven to be scalable to store all of the emissions from the tar sands nevermind all of Canada's emissions.

7. Investment in Clean Energy

$190M is a fraction of the over $1B/year that the tar-sands industry receives in tax credits.

8. Active and Constructive Role

Canada has not played a constructive role in recent UN climate change conferences.

9. Copenhagen Accord

Canada was working with Japan and Russia to block the second phase of Kyoto at the UN Climate Change Conference in Cancun.

10. $400 million in new and additional financing

It is not clear that any of this money had been delivered, or if it was, whether it was truly new money. According to

"... 72% of funds committed are in the form of loans for clean projects through the World Bank, only 11% is dedicated in the form of grants to adaptation efforts in poor countries, and that at least a portion of the funding appears to be taken out of the international aid dollars already announced in Canada’s 2010 budget."