Kyoto Protocol greenhouse gases and the Canadian Environmental Protection Act

Explanatory Note

As stated in Moving Forward on Climate Change: A Plan for Honouring our Kyoto Commitment, the Government's working assumption is that the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA 1999) will be chosen as the legislative vehicle for implementing a regulatory system for emissions of the Kyoto Greenhouse Gases (GHGs) from Large Final Emitters. The plan notes that the Government would regulate under Parts 5 and 11 of CEPA 1999 and that in order to do so, GHGs will first have to be added to the list of substances in Schedule 1 to the Act. This process was begun on September 3, 2005, with the publication of a draft Order Adding Toxic Substances to Schedule 1 to the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (PDF document, 1,546KB, page 46). Members of the public have until November 2, 2005 (60 days) to comment on the draft order.

Addition to Schedule 1 is a decision of the Governor-in-Council (the federal Cabinet). The Governor in Council may, if satisfied that a substance meets the criteria set out in section 64 of CEPA, on the recommendation of the Ministers of Environment Canada and Health Canada, make an order adding a substance to Schedule 1.

The criteria set out in Section 64 of CEPA are that a substance is entering or may enter the environment in a quantity or concentration or under conditions that:

  1. have or may have an immediate or long-term harmful effect on the environment or its biological diversity;
  2. constitute or may constitute a danger to the environment on which life depends; or
  3. constitute or may constitute a danger in Canada to human life or health.

Therefore, the first step is to demonstrate that a substance meets at least one of these criteria. In Moving Forward on Climate Change it is noted that international science clearly demonstrates that GHGs meet the second criterion for listing, namely that they constitute a danger to the environment on which life depends.

This report provides a summary of international science from the Third Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in order to determine whether the Kyoto Protocol greenhouse gases (GHGs) (namely, carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), sulfur hexafluoride (SF6), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), and perfluorocarbons (PFCs)) meet one or more of the criteria set out in section 64 of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA, 1999). Material from the IPCC Third Assessment Report has been used exclusively since the findings of the Report are recent and are accepted by scientists and governments worldwide as representing the current scientific consensus on climate change. It is important to note that the IPCC is a UN body that developed the science that forms the basis of the Kyoto Protocol. The scientific literature published since 2001, which will be included in the Fourth Assessment Report of the IPCC (to be produced in 2007), is expected to strengthen the conclusions of the Third Assessment Report. The evidence supports a conclusion that GHGs are entering or may enter the environment in a quantity or concentration or under conditions that constitute or may constitute a danger to the environment on which life depends, and thus meet the criterion of Section 64b.

For further information, please contact:

Cynthia Wright
Director General, Strategic Policy Directorate
Environmental Protection Service
Environment Canada
21st Floor, P.V.M. 351 St. Joseph Blvd.
Gatineau, Quebec K1A 0H3
Tel: (819) 953-6830

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