Federal Environment Minister Stphane Dion says the government plans to invoke the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA) to force heavy industries to cut emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. National targets will be set to help Canada meet its commitments under the Kyoto Protocol on climate change.
The plan will run into opposition from Liberal backbenchers as well as from the Conservatives when it reaches the House next week as a budget measure. Several key Liberals, including environment committee chairman Alan Tonks, have reservations about the plan. The Toronto Liberal MP noted that carbon dioxide in itself is not a toxic risk to human health in the same way as are PCBs and other substances regulated under the act.
The same point has been made by Conservative environment critic Bob Mills. Placing the control of greenhouse gas emissions under the CEPA would be a de facto carbon tax which would result in the loss of thousands of jobs and would increase the cost of heat, electricity and transportation, Mr. Mills says.
The CEPA legislation is to come up for a full parliamentary review in the fall. But Mr. Dion and the government intend to move as early as next week. Officials have told cabinet ministers that the cost of meeting Canada’s commitments under the Kyoto Protocol could balloon to $10-billion, twice what was announced in last month’s federal budget.
The issue is relevant to municipal and private sector professionals in the waste management industry since greenhouse gases from landfills, thermal treatment plants, composting facilities and other systems play a role in Canada’s Kyoto compliance requirements. Some Canadian waste management companies are already selling emissions credits on an exchange in Chicago.