Voluntary Measures Failing to Control Greenhouse Gas EmissionsCall to Joint Ministers' Meeting to Adopt Financial Incentives, Regulations

Oct. 16, 2000

Québec City — Companies participating in Canada's flagship program to control industrial emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG), which is based on voluntary action, increased their average emissions substantially between 1990 and 1998, with companies in the fossil energy sector far outstripping, on average, the 13% rise in Canada's total emissions over this period. Federal and provincial Environment and Energy ministers meeting this week in Québec City should adopt financial incentives and regulatory instruments to curb Canada's industrial GHG emissions and make the reporting of these emissions mandatory.

These are the main conclusions of the Pembina Institute's second annual comprehensive report on Canada's company-specific industrial GHG emissions, released today. The report, which analyzed 115 corporate submissions to the Voluntary Challenge and Registry (VCR) program, backed up its calls for ministerial action with these further findings:

VCR participants reporting their GHG emissions likely represent no more than half of Canada's industrial GHG emissions. Some of Canada's largest GHG emitters do not report their emissions to the VCR, and several major companies that reported their 1997 emissions to the VCR failed to report their 1998 emissions;
between 1990 and 1998, sixteen companies, including some of Canada's largest emitters, actually increased their emissions intensity (emissions per unit of production), out of the 58 for which it was possible to do this calculation;
between 1997 and 1998, there was a mix of increases and decreases in companies' emissions, but significantly more companies reporting to the VCR experienced large increases between the two years than experienced large decreases; and
there are numerous variations and inconsistencies in the methodology used by companies to calculate the emissions they report.
"Ministers must adopt complementary financial incentives and regulatory instruments capable of bringing about the meaningful reductions in Canada's industrial GHG emissions that voluntary programs are incapable of achieving on their own," said Dr. Matthew Bramley, author of the report. "Voluntary programs have utterly failed to bring about the kinds of emissions reductions that Canada will need to meet its international climate change commitments."

"Companies are already required to report their emissions of toxic substances under the National Pollutant Release Inventory. It is inexplicable that reporting of GHG emissions, which are responsible for the world's most serious environmental threat — climate change — should be optional" Dr. Bramley added.

Federal, provincial and territorial ministers of Environment and Energy are meeting in Quebec City on October 16 and 17 to seek agreement on Canada's National Implementation Strategy on Climate Change. Under the international Kyoto Protocol, Canada would be required to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to 6% below 1990 levels in the period 2008-2012. But official projections show that Canada's emissions will be 27% above 1990 levels in 2010 if no new measures are adopted to address climate change.

Canada's five largest GHG-emitting provinces all received a failing grade in a Pembina Institute assessment of provincial government performance on climate change released on October 4, 2000. The Pembina Institute's assessment considered 38 different policy initiatives provincial governments could take to reduce GHG emissions. Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario, Québec and Saskatchewan all received marks of only 20% to 30%.

For more information contact:

Robert Hornung
Policy Director, Pembina Institute
Office: 613-235-6288 ext 22
Email: roberth@pembina.org


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