Our process helps Canada achieve sustainable development solutions that integrate environmental and economic considerations to ensure the lasting prosperity and well-being of our nation.


We rigorously research and conduct high quality analysis on issues of sustainable development. Our thinking is original and thought provoking.


We convene opinion leaders and experts from across Canada around our table to share their knowledge and diverse perspectives. We stimulate debate and integrate polarities. We create a context for possibilities to emerge.


We generate ideas and provide realistic solutions to advise governments, Parliament and Canadians. We proceed with resolve and optimism to bring Canada’s economy and environment closer together.

Chapter 3: Provincial Climate Plans

Reality Check: The State of Climate Progress in Canada



Provinces across the country have committed to reducing their GHG emissions and have introduced policies to make progress in that direction. A broad and diverse range of measures exists across provincial climate plans. Common features of provincial plans include public education campaigns, energy efficiency and renewable electricity programs, and greening government operations. Diverse measures include market-based instruments such as carbon taxes, regulatory measures, and legislated renewables targets. Since provinces own, operate, or regulate power utility systems, the link between energy and emissions is a core driver of provincial efforts to combat climate change.

This chapter begins the NRT’s assessment of provincial plans and measures, identifying key elements of effective provincial plans, assessing the completeness of plans against this set of criteria and drawing out shared challenges and leading practices.

3.1 Characteristics of provincial climate plans

In response to the Minister of Environment’s request, the NRT has developed a framework to assess provincial climate plans. Consistent with earlier NRT advice (see, for example, Achieving 2050: a Carbon Pricing Policy for Canada37), this framework emphasizes the importance of establishing concrete goals and effective implementation plans alongside a strategy to assess results over time. While each province is unique and there is no common standard against which provinces articulate their climate policies, this framework can be applied across the board. Key elements in an effective plan include the following:

  1. Identification of targets and timelines. Provincial governments should publicly disclose targets and timelines to communicate the level of ambition of a climate plan, bring people and organizations together around a shared objective, and create accountability through a benchmark against which progress can be measured over time.
  2. Measures that address key emission sources. Plans should focus on establishing measures that confront the largest emissions sources to create the greatest environmental benefit.
  3. Evaluation mechanisms. Provincial governments should establish mechanisms to evaluate progress, provide transparency on results achieved, and strengthen plans over time in response to learnings.
  4. Environmental effectiveness. Building on element 2, provincial plans should include sufficient measures to achieve the GHG reduction targets established.
  5. Cost-effectiveness. Provincial plans should avoid delays and incent low-cost reductions to achieve the greatest environmental benefit at the lowest cost.

Throughout the next three chapters of this report, we use this framework to assess provincial progress. The first three elements are addressed in this chapter. The last two elements warrant a more thorough analysis that builds on the qualitative analysis conducted in this chapter with quantitative analysis relating to elements 4 and 5, provided in Chapter 4 and 5 respectively. In Appendix 7.6 we provide a brief summary of each province’s emissions profile, GHG reduction plan, and measures in place.

Characteristic 1: Identification of targets and timelines

Provincial climate change plans should set out clear GHG emission targets with corresponding dates so that provinces can track their success over time. As shown in Table 3, all provinces have established GHG reduction targets and timelines but the choice of baseline year, target year, and emission-reduction goals varies between provinces.

Table 3: Canada’s GHG emission reduction targets§
  2020 Reduction Target (%) 2020 Reduction target (Mt CO2e) 2020 Emissions Target (Mt CO2e)   2009 Emissions (Mt CO2e)
null CANADA 17% below 2005 124 Mt below 2005 607 Mt   690
null BC 33% below 2007 21.5 Mt below 2007 43.7 Mt   63.8
null AB 18% above 2005 50 Mt below BAU 272 Mt   234.0
null SK 20% below 2006 14.1 Mt below 2006 56.3 Mt   73.1
null MB Under Development (1.1 Mt or 6% below 1990 by 2012)   20.3
null ON 15% below 1990 26.6 Mt below 1990 150.5Mt   165.0
null QC 20% below 1990 16.6 Mt below 1990 66.6 Mt   81.7
null NB 10% below 1990 1.6 Mt below 1990 14.4 Mt   18.4
null NS 10% below 1990 1.9 Mt below 1990 17.1 Mt   21.0
null PEI 10% below 1990 0.2 Mt below 1990 1.8 Mt   1.9
null NL 10% below 1990 0.9 Mt below 1990 8.3 Mt   9.5

§: Unless otherwise noted, numbers in this column have been calculated by the NRT based on stated provincial and federal targets and data supplied in Environment Canada 2011b (see Appendix 7.6 for details).

¶: Alberta is the only province to state its 2020 emissions reduction target in terms of megatonnes reduction from business as usual (BAU). This target comes from NRT calculations based on The Pembina Institute 2011 data which indicates that Alberta’s BAU emissions in 2020 are projected to be 322 Mt.

The majority of provinces use 1990 as the baseline year against which subsequent reductions are set out, consistent with the baseline year used for the Kyoto Protocol. However, the official federal target under the Copenhagen Accord is based on a 2005 baseline. The use of differing base years makes it difficult to compare the stringency of targets across provinces. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recommends that developed countries set 2020 targets at 10–40% below 1990 levels and 2050 targets of 40–95% below 1990 levels.38 As things stand, eight Canadian provinces are targeting reductions from 1990 levels by 2020 (anywhere between a 10% and 20% reduction) while two provinces — Alberta and Saskatchewan — have targets that would lead to an increase in emissions over 1990 levels. In the case of Alberta, its 2020 provincial target would exceed the province’s 2005 emissions.39

If the provinces are unable to meet their respective 2020 targets, should federal policies ensure that Canada as a whole still reaches the target of 607 Mt CO2e?

Summing up the targets set out by the provinces in Table 3, they yield a total Canada-wide emission level of 648 Mt CO2e in 2020.c This sits 41 Mt CO2e above the federal government’s 2020 GHG emissions target of 607 Mt CO2e. Assuming these targets are met, a key question is whether federal, provincial, or other actions will drive these remaining 41 Mt CO2e of reductions. A further question remains: If the provinces are unable to meet their respective 2020 targets, should federal policies ensure that Canada as a whole still reaches the target of 607 Mt CO2e?

Most provinces have stated additional interim targets to help reach their 2020 targets. Setting an interim target allows provinces to monitor their progress to their 2020 target not only to determine how effective measures have been with time, but also to guide the province in determining if other measures need to be implemented so 2020 targets can be achieved.

  Provinces with Interim Targets
null British Columbia 6% below 2007 levels by 2012; 18% below 2007 levels by 2016
null Alberta 20 Mt CO2e below BAU by 2010
null Manitoba 6% below 1990 levels by 2012
null Ontario  6% below 1990 levels by 2014
null Québec  6% below 1990 levels by 2012
null New Brunswick reduce to 1990 levels by 2010, 5.5 Mt below 2007 levels by 2012
null Nova Scotia           2.5 Mt CO2e below 2009 levels by 2015
null Newfoundland and Labrador reduce to 1990 levels by 2010

Several provinces have also indicated a 2050 emissions reduction target. Setting future targets reminds provinces that achieving GHG emission reductions is a process that requires long-term commitments.

Provinces with 2050 Targets
null British Columbia  80% below 2007 levels
null Alberta  200 Mt CO2e below BAU
null Ontario 80% below 1990 levels
null Nova Scotia up to 80% below current levels
null Newfoundland reduce to 1990 levels by 2010 and Labrador 75–85% below 2001 levels

In addition to setting overall targets and timelines, individual measures committed to in climate plans should also have specified targets and timelines so that their own contribution to the overall plan is known and success can be evaluated over time.40 Over half of the provinces do set out targets and timelines for specific measures within their plans. A summary of each province’s approach is provided in Table 5.

Characteristic 2: Measures that address key emission sources

To effectively reduce emissions, provinces need to identify and quantify their major sources of emissions and then set out measures to reduce emissions from these sources. Current climate plans generally set out measures that largely align with the major sources of emissions that are identified and ranked according to contribution to overall provincial emissions in Table 4.

There is also evidence of many provinces conducting forecasting and emissions trends analyses to inform the development of suitable measures. In addition, integration of measures across departments appears to be more and more the norm linking environmental and economic mandates.

Table 4: Emissions by activity by province (2009 Mt CO2e) and ranked by size of contribution to overall provincial emissions
    null BC null AB null SK null MB null ON null QC null NB null NS null PEI null NL
Stationary Energy Mt CO2e 23.5 132.0 29.3 4.4 69.7 23.4 12.2 14.5 0.6 4.4
Ranking 2 1 1 3 1 2 1 1 2 1
Transport Mt CO2e 24.6 35.2 14.2 7.0 58.2 35.6 4.6 5.2 0.8 3.6
Ranking 1 3 3 1 2 1 2 2 1 2
Fugitive Sources Mt CO2e 6.0 35.7 15.2 0.6 1.6 0.7 0.2 0.1 0.6
Ranking 3 2 2 6 6 6 6 6 3
Agriculture Mt CO2e 2.1 17.0 12.0 6.7 10.0 7.3 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.1
Ranking 6 4 4 2 4 4 4 3 3 6
Industrial Processes Mt CO2e 3.7 12.0 1.6 0.7 18.2 9.1 0.4 0.3 0.0 0.2
Ranking 5 5 5 5 3 3 4 5 5 5
Waste Disposal Mt CO2e 3.9 1.7 0.7 0.9 7.3 5.5 0.5 0.4 0.1 0.6
Ranking 4 6 6 4 5 5 3 3 4 3

Source: Data taken from Environment Canada 2011b

The effectiveness of measures is heavily influenced by the choice of mandatory versus voluntary approaches. Generally speaking, mandatory measures provide more certainty that a given amount of emission reductions will be achieved because of the regulatory burden imposed. This quantity certainty exists in a cap-and-trade system where the emissions limit is established but the price of compliance is unknown. In contrast, a mandatory carbon tax provides price certainty but the level of emission reductions that will occur is uncertain. The forthcoming federal coal-fired power regulations and Québec’s cap-and-trade system are examples of mandatory measures that will provide a more predictable amount of GHG reductions. Conversely, voluntary measures can raise awareness of energy conservation by consumers, but are not as effective as carbon pricing or regulations at changing behaviour or drawing investment that leads to reduced emissions.

With energy-related emissions (stationary energy, transportation and fugitive emissions) contributing 82% of Canada’s total emissions in 2009, any provincial strategy must confront energy issues. As noted earlier, stationary energy and transportation are key emission sources across all provinces. A common measure to address stationary energy emissions has been investing in non-emitting electricity generation, which can yield large GHG reductions and offer co-benefits for local air quality and ecosystem health. Several provinces have pursued new electricity generation strategies that will make major progress in support of GHG reduction goals. Examples include Ontario’s coal phase-out, Nova Scotia’s renewable portfolio standard, Point Lepreau nuclear refurbishment in New Brunswick, and Newfoundland and Labrador’s Lower Churchill hydroelectricity project. Large-scale hydro plants are already a main renewable energy strategy for British Columbia, Manitoba, and Québec.

Energy efficiency programs are also widely used to drive GHG reductions, improve air quality, and moderate the demand for new electricity generation capacity in response to economic and demographic growth. In addition, three provinces representing 75% of Canada’s total population — Québec, Ontario, and British Columbia — continue to indicate their formal intention to introduce a cap-and-trade system that will affect energy emissions, although progress remains slow. Québec has moved the furthest along by adopting the Western Climate Initiative (WCI) regulation for establishing the system. British Columbia and Québec are also using forms of carbon taxes to lower energy emissions.

Many provinces are pursuing efforts to drive down transportation emissions through vehicle emissions standards, investment in public transportation, investments in research and development, and public awareness campaigns to reduce transportation emissions. However, addressing emissions from this source has proved challenging, as we see later in this chapter.

Characteristic 3: Evaluation mechanisms

Strong evaluation plans monitor and assess performance over time and incorporate adaptive management strategies to improve policies and practices.41 In addition, they include public reporting provisions so citizens and stakeholders can be made aware of progress. Many provinces are committing to providing interim reports prior to 2020 as a way of evaluating the effectiveness of individual measures, publicly indicating progress to date, and detailing areas that require more efforts so that the target can be reached. Nevertheless, these are not yet as comprehensive overall as they should be to independently evaluate progress and effectiveness.

Table 5 lays out three components that support measuring and evaluating climate change plans. Public reporting on progress toward meeting climate change objectives provides transparency and accountability. As a best practice, a third-party audit or assessment is ideal. This could be conducted by the province’s Auditor General or another independent body, for example the Environmental Commissioner in Ontario and the Sustainable Development Commissioner in Québec.

Across the country, many climate change plans do include provisions for public reporting on progress and for periodic evaluation. Some provinces have already conducted evaluations and made program adjustments in response, with several going as far as publishing revised climate change plans. Independent assessments have taken place in three provinces already.

Table 5: Assessment of provincial climate change plans
  null BC null AB null SK* null MB§ null ON null QC§ null NB§ null NS null PEI null NL
Targets with corresponding timelines are established
Emission-reduction targets have been legislated
Measures within the plan are assigned targets with corresponding timelines
Key emissions sources are identified
Measures are set out to reduce emissions from key sources
Measures have been informed by emissions trends and forecasting
There is coordination between the provincial environment department and departments responsible for effected sectors
Provisions are set out for regular public reporting on progress
Evaluation has occurred and new measures have been developed in response UD UD UD UD §§
There has been an independent audit, assessment, or evaluation UD §§

*Saskatchewan has not published an up-to-date climate change plan. To populate this table we relied on the province’s earlier climate plan and more recent information provided by the province.

§The province is currently developing a new climate change plan. This table was populated using earlier climate change plans and more recent publicly available information (see Appendix 7.6 for references).

**Key sources are generally defined here as the top three categories of emissions. However, where the third emissions source represents less than 10% of provincial emissions, we only considered the top two sources.

¶ Nova Scotia’s Minister’s Round Table on Environment and Sustainable Prosperity will perform a public evaluation of the target every 5 years.

§§ The climate change plan is too recent to have been evaluated.
UD: under development

3.2 Some key challenges

Transportation issues

Transportation is the second-highest emissions source across the country with road transportation as the leading contributor.42 Addressing emission reductions in this sector is particularly challenging given where and how Canadians live; quality of life and convenience when it comes to vehicle use; urban design; and the cost, choice, and availability of road transport options. In addition, investments in the transportation fleet are long-lived. Even when new technology becomes available, it takes time for that technology to make its way into the majority of the vehicle fleet. Federal vehicle performance standards and fuel regulation standards will contribute to emission reductions over time from transportation;43 many provinces indicated to the NRT the need for continued federal focus in this area. At the same time, provinces will likely need to continue to invest in public transit and infrastructure, with and without federal support.

Integrating environmental management with economic development

All provinces face competing pressures to invest in economic growth while seeking to reduce GHG emissions from that growth. Reconciling GHG emission reductions and economic growth is a particular challenge in provinces like Saskatchewan and Alberta where activities comprising emissions-intensive natural resource extraction contribute significantly to both the provincial and national economies. Both provinces have coupled economic growth with GHG mitigation in their regulations on large final emitters.44 Policies in these provinces base requirements on emissions intensity, allowing for contributions to a technology fund as a compliance option to incent R&D for low-emitting technologies. Strong domestic and international demand for Canadian natural resource commodities, particularly oil and gas, will keep upward pressure on provincial and, by extension, national climate emissions goals. We further explore the economic efficiency of provincial plans in Chapter 5.

Jurisdictional overlapd

Jurisdictional overlap can have the drawbacks of leading to conflict, buck-passing, inefficient duplication of efforts, reduced democratic accountability, and the establishment of national standards that reflect the lowest common denominator. The potential advantages of this overlap are less commonly recognized but they include supporting provincial innovation and diffusion of novel policies, supporting oversight between orders of government, and tailoring of roles to each government’s strengths. Federalism has been a particular challenge in Canada when it comes to developing and sustaining climate plans, relative to others like the European Union and Australia. Canada’s difficulties are due to limited public support for deep action, the potential for significant regional disparities in abatement costs, and a strong norm of federal-provincial consensus in intergovernmental relations. Going forward, policy makers should keep in mind that intergovernmental consensus is not the objective in itself; indeed consensus may mask or even contribute to lack of progress as individual jurisdictions act on their own. Furthermore, compatibility of federal and provincial climate change objectives can be more important than a shared commitment, but the variation in provincial greenhouse gas intensities and emissions trends, and corresponding economic stakes, present tremendous challenges.

Policy overlape

In a federation with fragmented climate policy plans, overlap between provincial and federal policies can be problematic depending on the policy instruments involved. We assessed the implications of overlap assuming that the federal government maintains its focus on emissions performance standards (e.g., coal-fired electricity generation regulations) and product performance standards (e.g., renewable fuels content) and that provinces move forward with a variety of price, quantity and regulatory measures. We found that in many instances overlap does not present policy problems, but there are cases where unintended consequences can arise such as redistributing emission-reduction requirements without creating overall environmental benefits, and increasing the overall cost of achieving a level of emission reductions. To avoid this problem, provinces should be cognizant of these risks in designing future policies and the federal government should consider regulatory approaches that do not penalize those provinces wanting to make similar or extra efforts. Equivalency agreements or negotiated regional and pan-Canadian approaches are tools to avoid problematic overlap. Appendix 7.5 provides additional details on our assessment.

Inter-jurisdictional coordination

In Canada, while two bodies currently exist that could bring together governments to consider climate policy as it relates to achieving Canada’s 2020 target, these mechanisms have not met to tackle such policy coordination head on.

First, the Council of the Federation comprises the premiers of Canada’s provinces and territories. This institution promotes interprovincial-territorial co-operation while fostering meaningful relations between governments in recognition of their diversities. The Council has been working on climate change initiatives since 2007, including those focused on climate change adaptation and energy efficiency.45

Second, the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME) is made up of provincial, territorial, and federal environment ministers. It seeks to achieve positive results on national environmental issues in a collaborative manner. The CCME’s past work on climate change includes a 2003 report on climate change trends in Canada and a 2011 report on the use of water monitoring networks for climate change adaptation.46

The role of municipalities47

In addition to the policies being pursued at the provincial level, many municipalities are also engaging in emission-reduction activities. Canadian municipalities are engaging in mitigation measures through the Partners for Climate Protection (PCP) network coordinated by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) and Local Governments for Sustainability (ICLEI). PCP includes 221 Canadian member municipalities. Since 2008, PCP has developed the National PCP Measures Database to track projects, and it currently contains more than 700 projects that represent over $(2012)1 billion in investments leading to GHG reductions in excess of 1.7 Mt CO2e. Emission-reduction measures span large and small communities, residential and corporate sources, energy efficiency, waste diversion, fleet improvements, and renewable energy activities among others. To date, district energy systems and landfill gas capture and recovery systems have produced some of the largest sources of reductions. Many provinces have identified the need to work with municipalities in their climate plans, but municipal actions are not typically accounted for separately in provincial reporting of emission reductions. Rather, they are reported as a reduction in the context of a sector, such as landfills and waste or from public transit.

Looking forward

Provincial governments continue to explore new GHG reduction measures as the economy changes, technologies advance, and gaps between GHG reduction targets and current emission trajectories emerge. Newfoundland and Labrador has indicated that it may introduce regulations to limit emissions from industrial sources.48 Ontario, Manitoba, and British Columbia may follow Québec and introduce emissions trading as members of the Western Climate Initiative (see Text box 3).

Text box 3: Western Climate Initiative




The Western Climate Initiative (WCI) was initially introduced in 2007 as an agreement between five U.S. state governors to work together to establish GHG reduction targets, measure emissions, and develop market-based schemes to achieve reduction targets that allowed for interregional trading of permits. The design of the program proposed by WCI is a cap on all major emissions sources, a consistent reporting methodology for regulatees, and support for compliance

flexibility through a cap-and-trade system that allows for banking credits over time and for offsets.

The WCI points to several benefits to the proposed regional system including greater economic efficiency through compliance flexibility, reduced risk of “leakage” of emissions to areas that are not covered by a GHG reduction target, economies of scale in administrative and technical oversight, and enhanced capacity to support future national-level systems.

Membership has declined from a high of 11 members to five current members: California, British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario and Québec. Québec

has clarified plans to proceed to implementation in 2013 by formally adopting a WCI regulation putting this into effect, using 2012 as the transition year. The other three Canadian provinces are at varying degrees of readiness to proceed with the system, but their plans are unknown and timing is uncertain.

Members of WCI are collaborating with other states and provinces across North America through North America 2050: A Partnership for Progress. This partnership provides a forum for states and provinces to share information, coordinate efforts, advocate, and reduce GHG emissions.

Source: Western Climate Initiative 2008, 2012a, 2012b; North America 2050 ND; Finances Québec 2012

The Western Climate Initiative (WCI) was initially introduced in 2007 as an agreement between five U.S. state governors to work together to establish GHG reduction targets, measure emissions, and develop market-based schemes to achieve reduction targets that allowed for interregional trading of permits. The design of the program proposed by WCI is a cap on all major emissions sources, a consistent reporting methodology for regulatees, and support for compliance flexibility through a cap-and-trade system that allows for banking credits over time and for offsets.

The WCI points to several benefits to the proposed regional system including greater economic efficiency through compliance flexibility, reduced risk of “leakage” of emissions to areas that are not covered by a GHG reduction target, economies of scale in administrative and technical oversight, and enhanced capacity to support future national-level systems.

Membership has declined from a height of 11 members to five current members: California, British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario and Québec. Québec has clarified plans to proceed to implementation in 2013 by formally adopting a WCI regulation putting this into effect, using 2012 as the transition year. The other three Canadian provinces are at varying degrees of readiness to proceed with the system, but their plans are unknown and timing is uncertain.

Members of WCI are collaborating with other states and provinces across North America through North America 2050: A Partnership for Progress. This partnership provides a forum for states and provinces to share information, coordinate efforts, advocate, and reduce GHG emissions.

Source: Western Climate Initiative 2008, 2012a, 2012b; North America 2050 ND; Finances Québec 2012

As provinces move forward in implementing their plans, they have the opportunity to learn from the experiences of others and borrow existing policy measures and tailor them to their own circumstances. In one example of this, Saskatchewan is currently developing a regulatory regime for industrial emitters that shares many common elements with Alberta’s Specified Gas Emitters Regulation.49

3.3 Leading practices

GHG reduction policies across the country are diverse and many of them are also highly innovative. This section describes examples of leading provincial practices. Other jurisdictions may look to include such actions in their own suite of measures to enhance climate policies in the future.

A carbon-neutral government in British Columbia.50 A key component of British Columbia’s 2007 Greenhouse Gas Reduction Targets Act was a commitment to achieve a carbon-neutral public sector by 2010. The province relies on an approach of measuring, reducing, offsetting, and finally reporting emissions from public sector sources. In the buildup to 2010 almost $75 million was spent to conserve energy in public buildings. To supplement internal reductions, the government also purchased 0.7 Mt CO2e of offsets from the Pacific Carbon Trust — a provincial crown corporation that reviews and approves offset projects. To date, offsets have been generated through forest-based carbon sequestration, energy efficiency, and fuel switching across the province.

Funding technology development in Alberta.51 Alberta’s emissions-intensity-based regulatory system allows regulated entities to achieve compliance through several mechanisms including contributing to a technology fund at a rate of $15/tonne CO2e. This fund — the Climate Change Emissions Management Fund — is administered by an arms-length not-for-profit corporation. The corporation’s mandate is to use Fund revenues to support GHG reduction activities and climate change adaptation within the province. Funding is distributed using a portfolio approach focused primarily on green energy production, energy efficiency, and carbon capture and storage (CCS). As of September 2011, the fund had collected $257 million, with 27 projects representing $126 million in investment expected to produce annual GHG emission reductions (by their reckoning) of 2.3 Mt CO2e, or 23 Mt CO2e over 10 years.52

Carbon capture and storage in Saskatchewan.53 In 2011 the Government of Saskatchewan announced the approval of the construction of the Boundary Dam Integrated Carbon Capture and Storage Demonstration Project, a $1.24 billion project aimed at capturing emissions from coal-fired electricity generation and using the CO2 in enhanced oil recovery. Construction is now underway and once operational in 2014, the project is expected to reduce GHG emissions by 1 Mt CO2e per year. SaskPower, the provincial utility implementing this project, identified project goals including demonstrating an economic and technically feasible method by which to make coal-fired generation sustainable and influencing future industry-wide regulations and policies governing this emerging technology. Partners on the project include the provincial government, several private firms, and the Government of Canada, which has contributed $240 million toward the project.

Exporting clean electricity in Manitoba.54 Hydro power is the main source of electricity in Manitoba and on an annual basis, Manitoba is a net power exporter. In 2010, non-emitting power exports reduced emissions outside the province by almost 7.2 Mt CO2e — the equivalent of about one-third of Manitoba’s expected 2010 emissions. Electricity is mainly transmitted via the north-south electricity grid from Manitoba to the United States.55 As Manitoba Hydro continues to make investments in hydro capacity and wind power, the province should be in a position to continue contributing to emission reductions outside the province.

Incenting small-scale renewable electricity production in Ontario.56 The Government of Ontario has developed a feed-in tariff (FIT) program to boost renewable energy use across the province. The Ontario Power Authority administers this program by entering into long-term purchasing agreements with renewable electricity producers working with bioenergy, solar photovoltaic, water, and wind. The program is designed to bring new electricity sources online in support of the coal-fired electricity phase-out, and support economic activity, new renewable electricity technologies, and growing employment in the industry. It is estimated that the FIT program will offset 8.4 Mt CO2e that would otherwise be produced by natural gas facilities.57

Establishing an emissions market in Québec.58 In 2009, Québec tabled Bill 42: An Act to amend the Environment Quality Act and other legislative provisions in relation to climate change to allow it to establish a cap-and-trade system as part of its participation in the WCI. The province has since adopted a regulation in preparation for launching its provincial cap-and-trade system in 2013, following a year of transition. A second regulation will be required to link trading systems between jurisdictions. Participation will be voluntary in the first year, giving companies an opportunity to learn the system. As of 2013 roughly 75 operators — primarily from the industrial and electricity sectors — will be covered under the system and then in 2015 coverage will be expanded to fuel distributors and importers. The threshold that triggers participation is emissions of at least 25 kt Co2e. Compliance permits will be distributed via free allocation, and/or auctioning and revenues from the scheme will be used to fund Québec’s climate change plan for the period 2013–2020.

Making the energy-environment connection in New Brunswick.59 New Brunswick’s 2011 Energy Blueprint identifies environmental responsibility as one of the province’s key energy objectives. It recognizes that energy use is the source of 92% of GHG emissions and that the energy-intensive and export-oriented nature of its industries could be a liability if the environmental impact of energy is not lessened. The Blueprint identifies 20 government actions directed toward enhancing the energy sector including 13 actions that further the environmental responsibility objective. These actions include developing the province’s 2012–2020 Climate Change Action Plan through cross-departmental participation, pursing regional electricity partnerships, and increasing the Renewable Portfolio Standard.

Legislating a greater role for renewable power in Nova Scotia.60 The Government of Nova Scotia introduced a renewable energy plan for Nova Scotia in 2010, committing to source 25% of electricity from renewables by 2015 and setting a goal of 40% renewables by 2020. The 2015 target was put into law through the Renewable Electricity Regulations under the Electricity Act. When the targets were introduced in 2010, Nova Scotia sourced roughly 90% of the province’s electricity from fossil fuels-based, principally coal. Recognizing that achieving the renewables targets will become increasingly difficult if energy demand rises, complementary energy efficiency measures are also planned.

Building wind energy capacity in Prince Edward Island.61 Prince Edward Island has been committed to enhancing wind power capacity within the province since the development of the first utility-grade wind farm in 2001. In 2008, the Government of Prince Edward Island announced plans to generate an additional 500 megawatts of wind power by 2013. The province also supports wind energy R&D through collaboration with the Wind Energy Institute of Canada.

Expanding hydroelectric production in Newfoundland and Labrador.62 In 2010 the government of Newfoundland and Labrador announced plans to develop new large-scale hydroelectric generation on Labrador’s Lower Churchill River. This project will commence with hydroelectric development at Muskrat Falls, and additional capacity is expected to be built at Gull Island further in the future. With this agreement, new transmission lines will allow for electricity to travel from Labrador to Newfoundland and from Newfoundland to Nova Scotia and create further potential for regional electricity exports. Once Muskrat Falls is operational, it is estimated that 98% of the province’s energy supply will be non-emitting and that Newfoundland and Labrador’s emissions will fall by 1.2 Mt CO2e in 2020 (or 13% of the province’s 2009 total emissions) as a result.

3.4 Climate change plans in the territories

Canada’s three territories — Yukon, the Northwest Territories, and Nunavut — contributed 1.9 Mt CO2e to Canada’s total GHG emissions in 2009. The main emissions source in the territories is transportation (1.1 Mt CO2e in 2009) with the largest sub-set of transportation emissions stemming from off-road diesel vehicles.63 Transportation plays an integral role in socio-economic well-being in the territories. Even in Yukon where almost all communities are connected by roads, a large number of people still use off-road transportation to commute, receive provisions, and access health services.64 Fuel content requirements may be considered to reduce emissions, but Arctic conditions need to be accounted for.65

Many isolated communities in the territories rely on diesel generators for electricity. Overall, hydro is the largest source of electricity generation for the North, but its distribution is very limited. Nunavut relies completely on diesel for electricity generation. Because of the heavy reliance on diesel, the desire to improve efficiency of diesel generators has increased in the territories, and is generally seen as a “reliable and least-cost, near-term solution.”66

Yukon and the Northwest Territories have limited the application of GHG emission reductions targets to government operations.67 Yukon seeks to cap GHG emissions from government operations in 2010, to achieve emission reductions of 20% below 2010 levels by 2015, and to be carbon neutral by 2020. The Northwest Territories has established a target to stabilize emissions from government operations at 2005 levels by 2015, to limit emissions increases to 66% above 2005 levels by 2020, and to return emissions to 2005 levels by 2030. Nunavut has no established target, but has committed to controlling and reducing GHG emissions between 2003 and 2013.

Each territory faces challenges on the horizon. Since 2009 there has been an increase in mining operations in Yukon with two new mines planned for the near future. The hydroelectricity grid has been maxed out in Yukon, and with additional mining activities, it will require more electricity. Rapid growth in the mining and natural gas sectors in the Northwest Territories could result in emissions increasing three-fold during the next two decades, with emissions from fossil fuels projected to reach 5,000 Kt by 2030.68 Nunavut is focusing most of its efforts on adaptation, but mining growth in that territory may also create new pressures.

3.5 Conclusion

This chapter shows how without an agreed national policy approach, provincial climate policies in Canada have all developed individually. Nevertheless, even if divergent, these climate plans can still prove effective if they have the necessary common elements of targets and timelines, measures to drive emission reductions, and provisions to report and evaluate progress over time. The provinces have many crosscutting issues to consider when creating climate policies. These include ensuring that targets and timelines are ambitious yet realistic, balancing economic growth with emission reductions, and ultimately, determining how to tackle key emissions sources effectively to meet targets. Intergovernmental collaboration and regional efforts can prove instrumental in policy development. We have seen examples of this in Atlantic Canada and Québec as part of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) with the New England states as well as the WCI. All provinces and territories should consider the effective and innovative reduction efforts of their counterparts when evaluating the effectiveness of their own measures and developing future policy choices.

As the levels of ambition in GHG reduction targets and the policy approaches to achieve them vary across provinces, so too will the environmental outcomes. The next chapter further investigates the GHG reductions expected from these plans.

[c] This number comes from the 2020 emissions targets for each province calculated in Table 3. Manitoba’s 2020 target is assumed to be 15% below 2005 (17.9 Mt CO2e) from NRT calculations based on Environment Canada 2011a..

[d] Based on Harrison 2012, available upon request.

[e] Based on Wigle and Rivers 2012, available upon request.

[37] National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy 2009a

[38] Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change 2007

[39] The Pembina Institute 2011

[40] Environmental Commissioner of Ontario 2011

[41] National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy 2007

[42] Environment Canada 2011b

[43] Environment Canada NDb

[44] Government of Saskatchewan 2009b; Specified Gas Emitters Regulation, Alta Reg 139/2007 2007

[45] Council of the Federation ND

[46] Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment ND

[47] Federation of Canadian Municipalities 2012; Federation of Canadian Municipalities and Local Governments for Sustainability – ICLEI 2012

[48] Government of Newfoundland and Labrador 2010b

[49] Government of Saskatchewan 2010a

[50] Live Smart British Columbia ND; Pacific Carbon Trust NDa, NDb

[51] Climate Change and Emissions Management Corporation ND

[52] Government of Alberta ND

[53] Government of Sasktachewan 2011; SaskPower 2012a, 2012b

[54] Government of Manitoba 2010

[55] Government of Canada 2011

[56] Ontario Power Authority 2010a, 2010b

[57] Dachis and Carr 2011

[58] Développement durable Environnement et Parcs ND; Government of Québec ND

[59] New Brunswick Department of Energy 2011

[60] Nova Scotia Department of Energy 2010; Province of Nova Scotia 2010

[61] Prince Edward Island Department of Environment Energy and Forestry 2008

[62] Government of Newfoundland and Labrador 2010a; Government of Newfoundland and Labrador 2011

[63] Environment Canada 2011b

[64] 32nd Yukon Legislative Assembly 2011; National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy 2009b

[65] Environment Canada 2012

[66] National Energy Board 2011b

[67] Department of Sustainable Development 2003; Northwest Territories Environment and Natural Resources 2011; Yukon Government 2009

[68] Northwest Territories Environment and Natural Resources 2011