Canada: Climate Change - December, 2009

Last Updated: December 11 2009

Article by Patricia A. Koval, Dennis E. Mahony, Michael Pickersgill and Tyson Dyck

Recent Developments


Copenhagen climate conference has begun

From December 7 to 18, 2009, delegates from about 200 countries are meeting in Copenhagen for the 15th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). As the conference approached, many countries signalled that the core elements of an international climate change treaty to succeed the Kyoto Protocol would be left on the table at least until 2010, when the UNFCCC parties reconvene in Mexico City. In particular, President Obama and other world leaders agreed in mid-November to make the mission of Copenhagen only to enter into a non-binding political agreement that would call for reductions in global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and the provision of aid to help developing countries adapt to climate change.

Key negotiating positions include the following:

  • President Obama has announced that the United States will offer to reduce its emissions by about 17% below 2005 levels by 2020. This target is consistent with the medium-term target set out in the Waxman-Markey climate change bill (see page 2 of Torys' July Climate Change Bulletin) that passed the U.S. House in June. It is conditional, however, on Congress first passing domestic legislation consistent with this target.

  • Prime Minister Stephen Harper has indicated that Canada's goal for reducing GHG emissions is "virtually identical" to the goal set out by President Obama, implicitly referring to the Canadian government's official plan to reduce Canada's GHG emissions by 20% below 2006 levels by 2020.

  • The European Union has maintained its promise to cut aggregate emissions of its member states by 20% below 1990 levels by 2020, or by 30% if other developed countries commit to significant reductions as well.

  • China and India have offered to set voluntary emissions intensity targets, which would commit them to reduce their carbon dioxide emissions per unit of gross domestic product by 40%–45% and 20%–25%, respectively, below 2005 levels by 2020. However, on December 3, 2009, these two countries, along with Brazil and South Africa, rejected a Danish proposal to halve global GHG emissions by 2050, since much of this reduction would necessarily be borne by developing countries.

A commitment by developed countries to contribute to a "quick start" fund for climate change actions in the developing world is a likely outcome of the Copenhagen conference. However, the mechanism for transferring any funding to developing countries will likely be debated into 2010.

For further information, please see the Conference website.


Environment minister continues to espouse Canada-U.S. cooperation

On November 13, 2009, Environment Minister Jim Prentice reiterated the federal government's plans to work toward harmonized Canada-U.S. action on climate change. He stressed the government's position that if "the U.S. does not make a substantial effort going forward, there is nothing Canada can do." In addition, according to Prentice, if the United States begins to regulate GHG emissions and Canada does not adopt comparable regulations, it may face border-tax adjustments on carbon-intensive Canadian exports to the United States. The Waxman-Markey bill that passed the U.S. House contemplated such "carbon tariffs" by 2020 for certain imported products from countries that did not have comparable GHG emissions regulations. Minister Prentice also highlighted the federal government's ongoing work on a cap-and-trade system for industrial GHG emitters, which he stated would be comparable to a future U.S. system while still reflecting unique Canadian circumstances.

For further information, please see Minister Prentice's speech.


Ministry of the Environment finalizes GHG reporting requirements

On December 1, 2009, the Ministry of the Environment (MOE) issued its final Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reporting regulation. This regulation imposes mandatory emissions reporting for all regulated sources that are emitting 25,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent or more per year. Reporting for 2010 will occur on or before June 1, 2011 and continue annually thereafter. The MOE will accept a number of different quantification methods for the reporting of 2010 emissions, but standardized quantification methods will be imposed from 2012. In addition, third-party verification of emissions will be required for the 2011 reporting year and continue annually thereafter. Under the regulations, firms that emit between 10,000 and 25,000 tonnes per year will not be required to report emissions. However, the MOE plans to develop a program to encourage voluntary reporting for these firms.

For further information, please see Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reporting Regulation and Guideline.

Ontario passes amendments further enabling cap-and-trade system

On December 3, 2009, the Ontario legislature passed the Environmental Protection Amendment Act (Greenhouse Gas Emissions Trading). The amendments clarify the province's existing authority to issue market-based regulations to achieve environmental standards, such as the regulations that would be necessary to establish a future cap-and-trade system. In addition, the amendments state that the province may issue market-based instruments, such as emissions allowances, for free or by auction, sale or other means. According to the amendments, any amounts paid for these instruments must be paid into a provincial account designated for reimbursing the government for costs incurred in administering GHG regulations and for supporting GHG reduction initiatives. The province continues to work with other Canadian and U.S. partners of the Western Climate Initiative to establish a regional cap-and-trade system by 2012.

For further information, please see Ontario's press release.

Ontario issues second annual climate change progress report

On December 2, 2009, Ontario released its 2008–2009 Annual Report on the province's Climate Change Action Plan. The report highlights the province's progress toward meeting its goals of reducing Ontario's GHG emissions, relative to 1990 levels, by 6% by 2014, 15% by 2020 and 80% by 2050. The report also highlights Ontario's introduction of the Green Energy and Green Economy Act, 2009, which has established a feed-in tariff for renewable source electricity generators; the province's plan to invest $11.5 billion over several years in transit projects in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area; and its ongoing development of new land-use management plans for the Lake Simcoe area and the province's Far North region.

For further information, please see Ontario's press release.

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.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.