On April 11 2008, the Manitoba government introduced for first reading Bill 15, "The Climate Change and Emissions Reductions Act" ("Bill 15"). The Bill sets out a wide range of government initiatives designed for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions ("GHG"). This includes specific requirements and programs for vehicles, new building construction, energy efficiency, elimination of coal-fired electricity generation and landfill emissions mitigation. The legislation also proposes to amend a number of existing statutes to authorize the broad range of GHG emission reduction programs contemplated in Bill 15, including: the Municipal Revenue Act, Municipal Assessment Act, Buildings and Homes Act, Highway Traffic Act and others.
Bill 15 is also supported by $145 million of investments over the next four years that includes GHG reductions in various economic sectors. Government initiatives will be announced in the near future and will include programs targeting large emitters, expanding renewable energy and programs for the agricultural and forest sectors.
The following summary highlights key aspects of Bill 15 and the areas being targeted by the Manitoba government as part of its related investment.
GHG Emissions Reductions Targets
The initial target described in Bill 15 (section 3(1)) is to reduce GHG emissions by December 31, 2012 to an amount that is at least 6% less than Manitoba’s total 1990 GHG emissions. The Bill also provides (section 3(2)) that Cabinet may make regulations establishing further GHG emissions reductions beyond the 2012 targets and specific targets for different greenhouse gases.
The Manitoba government’s press material announcing Bill 15 claims that the government needs to reduce its GHG emissions from 20 megatonnes (MT) to roughly 17 MT. This involves a short term target of reducing GHG by 2010 to 2000 levels. In addition, the government has indicated that achieving the 17 MT target will require the following reductions:
- 1 MT from the transportation sector
- 650,000 tonnes from large emitters
- 670,000 tonnes from expanding clean energy programs
- 680,000 tonnes from the agricultural and forestry sectors
- 250,000 tonnes from future climate change initiatives.
Program Development Framework For Developing GHG Reduction Programs
Bill 15 also gives the Minister the authority to create various programs with individuals or with representatives of different economic sectors and various provincial, federal and other non-Canadian governments.
Climate Change Reporting Requirements For The Minister
The legislation also imposes specific reporting requirements on the Minister to be tabled in the Manitoba legislature. For 2010 and 2012, and every fourth year after 2012, the Minister must report on the:
- current and predicted impacts of climate change for Manitoba;
- the government’s policies, programs, incentives and measures for assisting citizens in their reductions of GHG emissions;
- successes at meeting the GHG reduction targets in Manitoba and other jurisdictions as a result of the actions of Manitoba;
- future GHG reductions that are likely to be achieved by 2020 and 2025 due to actions taken in Manitoba;
- the government’s interjurisdictional programs and their successes at reducing emissions;
- measures taken in the agricultural and forestry sectors to reduce emissions.
GHG Emissions Registry
Section 6 of Bill 15 gives Cabinet the authority to establish regulations to designate a public registry to allow businesses, persons and other entities to voluntarily register the amount of emissions, the emissions reductions achieved and emissions offsets obtained.
The methods for calculating emissions and offsets is determined by the Minister. The Minister will, however, be required to have regard for methods and principles used in other jurisdictions and those with regional climate change partnerships, and he/she must consult with recognized experts (section 3(4)).
Vehicle Standards—Government And Private
On government owned vehicles, Cabinet may pass regulations prescribing fuel efficiency standards and the use of alternative fuels that assist in reducing GHG emissions. For privately owned vehicles, the Minister will appoint an "advisory board" (the "Board") to determine fuel standards. The Board must file its recommendations by January 31, 2009 with the Minister. The Board will make recommendations on targets, programs and measures to increase: 1) the use of vehicles employing low emissions technologies and 2) the proportion of new vehicles that are high efficiency private vehicles.
Mitigating Landfill Emissions
Landfill owners will be required to meet the government’s GHG reduction targets. Owners must file with the Minister an assessment of the potential for mitigating GHG emissions for each landfill site. They must propose a plan for monitoring those emissions and for controlling, collecting or using them before they are released in the atmosphere. Each plan will be reviewed and approved for implementation by 2011 (section 15).
Manitoba Hydro Initiatives
Manitoba Hydro is directed to eliminate the use of coal-fired electricity (except in emergency situations) and develop plans with First Nations to reduce or eliminate the use of diesel fuel in off-grid communities. The utility must consult with the affected First Nations and the federal government and also determine sources of funding and the costs of such fuel switching. The utility will provide a report on these matters to the Minister who will table it with the Legislature (section 16).
Other initiatives in relation to the use of coal include:
- A coal reduction and conversion plan for large industry. This includes a new tax on coal emissions and capital support for firms that convert their operations to cleaner energy sources.
Green Building Requirements
Bill 15 gives the government the power to create regulations that prescribe green building requirements for energy and environmental performance in respect of:
- construction projects for buildings owned or operated by the government or its agencies;
- construction projects for which the government provides capital funding.
This will include projects for new buildings and significant renovations of existing buildings. In addition, the government will have the regulation making authority to prescribe operating and management standards for buildings to ensure energy efficiency standards are met. In this regard, the Minister of Energy must make recommendations to Cabinet about various efficiency standards for residential boilers and furnaces for implementation in 2009.
Bill 15 and its related initiatives cover a wide range of areas affecting many sectors of the Manitoba economy. Beyond the necessary requirements of the legislature, various sections of the Bill create obligations that will involve both the public and private sectors, many of which will be subject to extensive consultations with stakeholders. Several advisory bodies will be established to facilitate this process and provide advice to the responsible Minister.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.