Interim Plan 2001 on Particulate Matter and Ozone: chapter 3
Regulations and policies alone are not enough to achieve clean air for Canadians. It is also important to promote individual and collective actions to reduce air pollution. Governments have an obligation to provide regular information to the public, based on good science, so that Canadians can understand the health impacts of air pollution and how they can take steps to protect themselves.
Canadians are being engaged and informed through federal initiatives such as the following:
- The Commercial Building Incentive Program provides incentives for energy efficiency in new commercial and institutional buildings, along with the Energy Innovators Initiative for organizations wishing to reduce energy operating costs, greenhouse gases and other pollutant emissions.
- The EnerGuide for houses helps assess the energy efficiency of houses, while the EnerGuide for vehicles promotes fuel consumption labeling of new vehicles.
- Regular trends reports are issued on pollution emitted to air, water and land.
- A Smog Advisory Program for several key areas has been in place since 1993.
- The National Pollutant Release Inventory (NPRI) provides enhanced reporting to Canadians through an interactive on-line database that allows tracking of pollutant releases in individual neighbourhoods. The NPRI list of substances will be expanded in 2002 to include precursors of ground-level ozone and smog: total particulate matter (TPM), PM10, PM2.5, SOX, NOX, VOC, total ammonia, and carbon monoxide. As well, the number of industrial facilities reporting pollutant emissions is expected to rise from 2,100 in 1999 to more than 7,000 by 2005. Communication tools have been developed to facilitate access to and use of the NPRI.
- The Clean Air website provides information on science and research, as well as ideas for action that Canadians can take to help achieve clean air, and progress reports on such actions.
- Clean Air Day Canada (June 6, 2001) provides a focal point for local and national activities promoting clean air awareness and actions to reduce smog.
- Of 800 community-based environmental projects funded by the EcoAction Community Funding Program, 9 per cent related to air quality and climate change.
- The Community Animation Program, with its focus on developing the capacity of health and environment groups to work together on shared issues, has helped engage the broader community.
- Sustainable Communities programs and contributions to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities have helped develop programs and projects that promote environmental action and energy efficiency, and also contribute to clean air actions at the local level.
- In the agriculture sector, the Agricultural Environmental Stewardship Initiative and the Livestock Environmental Initiative promote practices that help to achieve clean air.
"We are also seeking to strengthen our investments in the science that is needed to move us forward..."
David Anderson, P.C., M.P.
Minister of the Environment
Possible future areas of action
Canadians are concerned about air pollution and want to do their part for clean air, but many are unsure what practical actions they should take to support that concern. SUVs are popular, there are more cars and light trucks on the roads than ever before, communities continue to expand the number of roads and grow far from workplaces and services.
Efforts to engage Canadians should target those who are concerned but not yet active in finding solutions; those who are most vulnerable to health effects from smog; and communities and networks that reach industry, public health and the voluntary sector.
An effective engagement program is required that balances raising national awareness with support for local communities. It would recognize that real change happens locally at the community level, and provide the tools, information and support that respond to community needs. On-line communications would be emphasized as an effective method of sharing knowledge with communities and supporting wise choices.
Partnerships are a key component of successful engagement. They should focus on industry leaders to promote incorporating sustainable practices. As well, a public health information program on air quality involving partnerships with key organizations would help spread the message about individual responsibilities for clean air. Other measures to promote better understanding of what individuals can do to achieve cleaner air include peer training sessions to increase understanding and capacity in the medical community, and work with industry groups to support community initiatives.
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