Policy Framework for Environmental Performance Agreements: chapter 7


The Environmental Performance Agreement process can enable parties to identify and address a broader range of aspects related to environmental matters than the traditional regulatory approach, which usually focuses on a medium, a substance of concern, a pollution stream, etc. An Environmental Performance Agreement can lead to a multi-media and multi-stakeholder perspective and the setting of environmental priorities based on the systematic consideration of all relevant issues. This may result in the inclusion of multiple environmental performance objectives within a single agreement. While providing a means of addressing matters that would not be affected by regulation, this proactive approach can also enable faster achievement of objectives than would be possible through regulations alone.

Environmental Performance Agreements are not a panacea, however. For example, where few contributors to an environmental problem are willing to participate, Environment Canada would have to give more weight to alternatives such as regulation. The existence of a large number of "free riders" would undermine the credibility of a potential Environmental Performance Agreement and discourage its consideration. As well, this may not be the best solution where multiple agreements are needed to address the same environmental issue, as this can impose significant transaction costs on all participants, including government, and thus reduce the cost-effectiveness of the approach. Environment Canada will weigh all factors described in this policy framework before deciding whether to enter into an agreement with a company or group of companies.

All things considered, the growing international and domestic experience with environmental agreements demonstrates that Environmental Performance Agreements can both protect the environment and recognize business imperatives if they are properly applied and designed. Environment Canada is prepared to consider negotiating performance agreements with companies that are committed to achieving measurable and verifiable environmental results and to including public participation and reporting. This Environmental Performance Agreement policy approach will complement existing policy and regulatory tools while advancing Canada's overall environmental agenda.

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