Archived: Departmental Plan 2019 to 2020 report, Environment and Climate Change Canada, chapter 2

Plans at a glance and operating context

Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) is the lead federal department for strategic action on a wide range of environmental matters, including action on clean growth and climate change, preventing and managing pollution, conserving nature, and predicting weather and environmental conditions. The Department’s program focus reflects the interdependence between environmental sustainability and economic well-being.

Operating context

Protecting and conserving the environment requires ECCC’s commitment and action, as well as that of federal government partners, provinces and territories, Indigenous peoples, business and industry, and individual Canadians. International partners are also vital to addressing Canadian and global environmental challenges. Effective engagement with partners and stakeholders helps ECCC to advance innovative and effective policies, regulations and services, facilitates a coordinated approach to achieve results that represent the interests of all partners, and allows ECCC to be more responsive to evolving environmental challenges and circumstances, such as is often observed when addressing global climate change and protecting species at risk.

ECCC will remain focused on commitments set out in the Prime Minister’s mandate letter to Minister McKenna, many of which are outlined in the priorities and related actions described below.

In pursuit of its commitments, the Department will continue to experiment to reflect the federal culture of measurement, evaluation and innovation in delivering its mandate, and will integrate Gender-Based Analysis Plus (GBA+) principles into its analysis to ensure that the Department is better positioned to serve Canadians equitably. 

Taking action on clean growth and climate change

Addressing climate change is one of the Government of Canada’s top priorities. The impacts of climate change are being felt across the country, from floods, droughts, forest fires, and heat waves to a thawing Arctic. The costs associated with disaster response and recovery are also increasing. Between 1983 and 2008, insurance claims from extreme weather averaged $400 million a year. Between 2009 and 2017, those costs quadrupled to an average of $1.8 billion a year.

In 2016, the Government of Canada worked with provinces and territories, and engaged with Indigenous peoples and Canadians to develop the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change, Canada’s plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) by 30% below 2005 levels by 2030. This plan contains over 50 concrete measures to drive down emissions, build resilience to a changing climate, and create a clean economy. Governments have made tremendous progress in realizing this plan, but more needs to be done to ensure Canada remains on a path to meet its Paris Agreement target. As such, the implementation of the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change will continue to be a key priority for the Department.

In 2019–20, ECCC will: 

  • Ensure pollution is no longer free, and stimulate clean innovations and energy efficiency by implementing the federal carbon pollution pricing system. ECCC will also work with other government departments and agencies to ensure that proceeds will go directly back to the people of these provinces though the Climate Action Incentive and the provision of funds for small and medium-sized enterprises, not-for profit organizations, municipalities, universities, schools, hospitals, and Indigenous communities to, for example, help them become more energy efficient and reduce emissions.
  • Continue to leverage investments in projects that will generate clean growth and reduce GHGs through the $2 billion Low Carbon Economy Fund (LCEF), including working with provinces and territories to identify opportunities for partnership under the Leadership Fund. To date, 37 projects, totalling over $1.1 billion, have been approved under the Low Carbon Economy Leadership Fund across 9 provinces and territories. In addition, the LCEF Challenge Fund ($500M) provides funding to provinces and territories, municipalities, Indigenous communities and organizations, businesses and not-for-profit organizations, and small municipalities.
  • Reduce GHGs and drive clean growth through the development and implementation of key regulations, such as the Clean Fuel Standard, which is expected to cut 30 million tonnes of pollution every year by 2030.
  • Continue to support meaningful engagement between the Government of Canada and representatives of Indigenous peoples and governments to ensure that Indigenous peoples are full and effective partners in advancing clean growth and addressing climate change goals. ECCC will engage Indigenous peoples in implementing the PCF, including through senior and distinct tables with the Assembly of First Nations, Métis Nation and Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, as well as in consultation with the women’s councils of these organizations and the Native Women’s Association of Canada.
  • Support the implementation of a range of adaptation efforts to help all levels of government, communities, Indigenous peoples, businesses and individuals make informed decisions and be better prepared for the impacts of climate change.
  • Take steps to strengthen Canadians’ and their communities’ capacity to adapt so that they can better withstand the impacts of climate change, through key initiatives such as Canadian Centre for Climate Services, which helps Canadians understand and plan for climate impacts.
  • Continue to champion and demonstrate global leadership on climate action by encouraging the implementation of the Paris “rulebook” to guide pledges, action and accountability of all signatories to the Paris Agreement. ECCC will also continue to deliver on Canada’s pledge of $2.65 billion by 2020-21 to help developing countries transition to low-carbon, climate-resilient economies through investments in clean technology, climate-smart agriculture, and other initiatives.

Preventing and managing pollution

Building on the progressive work undertaken with provinces and territories under Canada’s Air Quality Management System, ECCC will continue to reduce emissions from a range of sources and protect Canadians from harmful pollutants by developing more stringent ambient standards for air quality.

To contribute to global commitments and efforts to reduce marine litter, including plastic waste, ECCC will work with provinces, territories, and other partners to achieve targets under the Ocean Plastics Charter, including those under the Strategy on Zero Plastic Waste to achieve 100% reusable, recyclable or recoverable plastics by 2030, and to increase the recycled content of plastic products by at least 50% by 2030. The Government of Canada will also invest $100 million to prevent plastic waste from entering the oceans, address plastic waste on shorelines, and better manage existing plastic resources in developing countries including $65 million through the World Bank for an international fund to address plastic waste in developing countries, $6 million to strengthen public-private partnerships to support global action in plastic pollution hot spots, and $20 million in support for the G7 Innovation Challenge to Address Marine Plastic Litter. Canada is also taking direct actions at home through the Canadian Plastic Innovation challenge, which will provide funding of up to $12.85 million to Canadian innovators and businesses to develop innovation technologies to reduce plastic waste.

ECCC will continue its work with Canadian and U.S. partners to protect and improve Canada’s freshwater resources, including the Great Lakes, St. Lawrence River and Lake Winnipeg watersheds, through its science-based research and monitoring, and by investing in actions that reduce nutrient pollution in these waters that support tens of millions of Canadians.

The Department will apply its scientific expertise and advice to Canada’s Oceans Protection Plan, including by supporting a state-of-the-art safety system to preserve and restore Canada’s marine ecosystems. For example, the Department’s data and modelling contributions will support environmental sensitivity assessments to help protect marine birds on British Columbia’s north coast.

Conserving nature

ECCC will continue to collaborate with partners to conserve 17% of Canada’s lands and inland waters (10.55% as of December 2018), and 10% of coastal and marine areas (7.9% as of December 2018) by 2020. With significant federal funding ($1.35 billion between 2018-19 and 2022-23) to support its efforts, the Department will continue to:

  • Expand existing federal protected areas as both Migratory Bird Sanctuaries and National Wildlife Areas;
  • Collaborate with federal, provincial and territorial ministers responsible for nature and habitat to meet the commitments set out in Canada’s Natural Legacy Declaration, while also working in the spirit and practice of reconciliation with Indigenous peoples; and
  • Fund initiatives that conserve spaces and species under the $500 million Canada Nature Fund, beginning with support to establish Territorial and Municipal Protected Areas, and Indigenous Protected Areas.

ECCC will transform the way species at risk are conserved through a new ecosystem-based, multispecies approach. The Department will partner with and support provinces and territories in their leadership role to recover and protect species at risk on their lands, and will also partner with Indigenous peoples to establish plans to recover and protect Canada’s Boreal and Southern Mountain Caribou herds.

Under the proposed Impact Assessment Act, ECCC will continue to provide scientific expertise and advice related to climate change, air quality, water quality, environmental preparedness and emergencies, and biodiversity. This will include: developing guidance for project proponents on standard methodologies to address common issues such as species at risk, migratory birds and wetlands issues; contributing advice on strengthening a federal offsets framework that encompasses biodiversity and developing datasets and science products to inform decisions on the assessment of impacts. 

Predicting weather and environmental conditions

ECCC will continue to bring leading-edge technology and science together to provide timely and accurate forecasts on which Canadians, businesses, communities and others rely to make health and safety decisions. The Department will upgrade its vital infrastructure, including 12 radars in 2019-20, to contribute to more reliable weather information for businesses, communities and individuals.

Canadians will continue to have access to the WeatherCAN application and use ECCC’s forecasts to plan ahead. The application provides current conditions and push notifications for weather alerts issued by the department for locations anywhere in Canada. It also provides quick access to ECCC's dynamic radar image.
For more information on Environment and Climate Change Canada’s plans, priorities and the planned results, see the “Planned Results” section of this report.

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