Bottom
Lines

A quarter-century report on Canada's natural security.

Our review covered Canada’s record on water, land and air, as well as species, ecosystems and climate change.

Canada enjoys the world’s second-largest landscape. Surely we can count on it for natural security: a healthy environment to support our well-being and prosperity long into the future. But can we?

We reviewed the facts over a quarter century. We looked at how governments led by five Prime Ministers and three political parties over twenty five years–from 1989 to 2014–have cared for the ecological assets that support Canada’s wealth and health. We sought original documents and independent reports, and ignored political spin.

And here’s the Bottom Line: Canada’s natural security has been deeply degraded. Our review found persistent failures to meet environmental goals set in law or accepted under international treaties. Meanwhile, audits have revealed declines in the biodiversity that underwrites our natural security in every part of Canada, along with new as well as resurgent old threats to our health.

The other clear lesson: the idea that natural security has to be sacrificed for prosperity is contradicted by the record. The facts reveal the very large contribution that thriving ecosystems make to our local and national economies beyond their deep values as treasured landscapes and iconic wildlife.

The next few pages tell the story in words, pictures and info-graphics that drill down into particular subjects. There’s more information hidden in the footnotes.1 And here you’ll find absolutely everything we found out in a searchable file.

  1. Inside each footnote like this you will find additional information.

Falling Grades

Twenty-five years of active lawmaking has not halted the decline of Canada’s ecosystems or environmental standing.

When others grade our stewardship, Canada consistently falls short of its citizens’ aspirations

Nothing says ‘Canada’ quite like a scenic vista—be it Gros Morne, the Saskatchewan sky, or a whale breeching in the Salish Sea. Canadians are justly proud of the vast variety of our landscapes. Our pride and concern for our natural environment has been rock-steady over a quarter of a century. Only Swiss and Norwegian citizens are more likely than Canadians to identify the environment as their No. 1 political issue. 355

Our leaders have appeared to be in step. Regardless of party, they have regularly assured us that Canada’s natural security is well protected. Legislation has been enacted across an impressive range of fronts, from protecting species to penalizing polluters and preventing foreseeable harm.

Yet independent assessments and a candid account of our history tell quite a different story. Much of this country’s original wealth was created by logging forests for timber, breaking native prairie for grain fields, and blasting minerals from hard rock. The idea that environmental loss is a regrettable but necessary price for prosperity has been deeply ingrained. Last year, the Prime Minister argued against additional measures to preserve a stable climate by saying, “No country is going to take actions that are going to deliberately destroy jobs and growth in their country.”

That this conventional wisdom is wrong is one of the clearest signals to emerge from the past quarter-century. To the contrary, a growing body of evidence reveals the very large economic benefits that flow from healthy ecosystems, and the correspondingly high cost of their loss or disruption.

Significantly, as the value of the security these natural systems provide has come more sharply into focus since the turn of the century, Canada’s standing on environmental stewardship has slipped from near the top of the class among developed countries, to near or even at the very bottom.

We examined the actions that Canada’s governments—of differing political stripes—have taken to protect and secure the environment since 1989, as well as the global context of those actions. Over the 25-year period to 2014, we found that state-of-the-art legislation to protect biodiversity, the safety of air and water, and critical natural systems, has never been fully implemented or effectively enforced. Numerous mandated goals remain unmet.

The consequences of bi-partisan neglect are now becoming apparent. Many supposedly ‘protected’ species are at greater risk today than they were in 1989. New and more elusive chemical threats have replaced older biological ones in Canada’s water—although some of the latter are also back with a vengeance.

Ambitious goals articulated a quarter-century ago to reduce Canada’s climate-altering greenhouse gas emissions have slipped by unmet. Our contributions to climate change have reversed a brief decline and are now again trending upward, even as its manifestations take a growing toll on livelihoods and structures.

Elsewhere, international investors and key agencies like the World Bank and International Monetary Fund now question the conventional Canadian wisdom that expanding the economy is worth any price to the environment. Bodies that report on how well different countries’ maintain their natural security have made the same link.

From ‘A’s to ‘F’s

Such rankings are only as old as the new century. One of the earliest was completed in 2000 as a pilot project for the World Economic Forum. Combining 64 indicators, the Yale Centre for Environmental Law and Policy and Columbia University Center for International Earth Science ranked Canada 7th among 56 developed and developing countries.12 In a more polished version the following year, Canada scored even better: third in a field of 122. 14

But more critical assessments surfaced almost at once. In the same year that Yale and Columbia placed Canada third in the world, researchers at the University of Victoria called Canada’s environmental record, “one of the poorest of the industrialized countries.” 16 In follow-up comparisons, the same team ranked Canada 28th among 30 wealthy countries in 2005, and 24th of 25 in 2010. 25 35

Other assessments have reached the same unflattering conclusion: against its developed peers, Canada trails. The United Nations Environment Program put us as low as 43rd in the world in environmental “vulnerability” in 2005. 26 The business-oriented Conference Board of Canada scored us 15th among 17 countries in 2013. 46

That same year the Centre for Global Development put us last in class for environmental care: 27th in a field of 27 rich, educated nations. 48 And last year the Climate Action Network and a research partner again placed Canada at the very bottom of 58 countries whose climate protection policies they evaluated. 357

Not how we see ourselves

Our national decline in global stewardship rankings is at odds with Canadians’ priorities over the same years as captured in opinion polls, although these also reveal that we’ve long been skeptical that our governments were up to the job.

Back in 1989, more than four-fifths of Canadians polled by Environics Research agreed at least somewhat (and fully half felt so “strongly”) that pollution “threatens the very survival of the human race.” 360 More than nine in ten of us were at least somewhat concerned about specific issues like acid rain, toxic chemicals, and air and water quality. Concern for wildlife followed closely. Climate change was on the minds of eight Canadians in ten even then.

At the same time, Canadians were roughly split on whether the federal government was doing a “fair” job protecting the environment, or a “poor” one. Four in ten nonetheless optimistically believed the environment would improve over the following decade. A dozen years later, further research by the same company revealed that public concern about threats like toxic chemicals, water quality and wildlife, had hardly changed. 361 Confidence in the federal government was up modestly: by 2001 more than half of Canadians felt it was doing a “fair” job; only 29% rated it “poor.”

The financial crisis that struck in 2008 dramatically changed Canadians’ priorities. The year before, polls had placed the environment in a statistical tie with health care as the country’s most important problem in citizens’ eyes. 358 By the following year, it had dropped to a distant third, buried by worry over the economy. 359

There has been a corresponding drop-off in pollsters’ interest in Canadians’ environmental views since then, but a handful of studies confirm that our concern hasn’t lessened.

Environics found in 2013 that more Canadians identified the economy than the environment as the country’s #1 issue just then. 362 But when they considered the future, they saw the loss of our natural security as the greatest threat. Other research found that while Canadians’ have become more certain that human activity is causing climate change, their confidence in government to be the “lead actor” in response, has dropped.

In short: Canadians’ concern for the environment has changed little over 25 years. Governments claim to have taken effective action. Yet our grades are dropping. Below, we explore this paradox in detail.

Return of the Dead Zones

Few Advances on Canadians’ Top Three Concerns: Air, Water, and Toxic Chemicals

Some familiar old threats are back, and exotic new ones are coming to light.

When Canadians were asked back in 1989 to name their biggest environmental concerns, the top three answers they gave were, in descending order: toxic chemicals, water quality, and air quality. 360 Four in ten were hopeful that things would improve within a decade.

Two and a half decades later, toxic chemicals, water and air quality are still among Canadians’ top concerns. 362 But whether those 1989-era hopes have been realized depends on where you look. Some former threats have receded, but others have taken their place. And a few banes that once appeared to be conquered are now back and more dangerous than ever.

An example is blue-green algae—a type of primitive phyto-plankton. These can be dangerous as well as unsightly: when blue-green algae die and break down they release potent neuro and hepato-toxins, destructive to nerve and liver systems respectively. Contact can produce headaches, fever, abdominal pain, nausea and death. 363

The primary cause of their summertime ‘blooms’ in lakes, oceans and rivers is an over-abundance of dissolved phosphorus and nitrogen—ingredients in farm and garden fertilizers that have the same powerful effect in the wild, ‘fertilizing’ the rapid growth of aquatic algae. The organisms flourish particularly well in water bodies depleted and warmed by a changing climate.

And such toxic blooms are spreading. 364 365 Once banished from Lake Erie, blooms have returned to the shallowest Great Lake. Last summer, residents of the U.S. city of Toledo and Canada’s Pelee Island were warned that drinking tap-water piped from Lake Erie could endanger their lives. 369 370 ‘Dead zones’ created by algae die-offs in Lake Winnipeg have at times covered half the lake’s surface, rivaling those in the Gulf of Mexico for expanse. 367 Toxic blooms have even been spotted in the St. Lawrence River and the Salish Sea. 366

Gender-bending new pollutants

After intestinal ailments killed seven people in Walkerton, ON, in 2000, and sickened half the population of North Battleford, SK, ten months later, many provinces tightened up regulations to protect Canadians’ drinking water. 368 Traditional water-borne threats such as cholera and typhoid are largely vanquished, although hundreds of smaller and remote communities continue to experience water safety warnings, some of many years standing. 368 371

Meanwhile exotic new contaminants have emerged to pose elusive but alarming threats to Canadians’ reproductive health. 372 So-called ‘endocrine-disrupting chemicals’ (EDCs) are found in thousands of commercial products, from face creams to industrial cleaners. All mimic or disrupt natural hormone signals that normally control the body’s physical processes from growth to appetite. Low-level exposure at critical moments in life—notably conception and puberty—are being linked to a spate of strange effects on sex characteristics in both human and wildlife.

Lake Erie 2011 Blooms
A satellite image captures algae blooms in Lake Erie that prompted warnings to Canadian and American residents not to drink their tap-water. (Photo NOAA)

Doctors observe an ongoing decline in the number of Canadian boys being born in comparison to girls—equivalent to about 800 statistically ‘missing’ boys a year by 2010. 373 368 Meanwhile hypospadias, a correctable birth defect in which the urethra opens at the base of the penis instead of the tip, is becoming more common. 374 Reproductive system cancers—especially of the breast and testes—are also on the rise. 372 Fish exposed to EDCs in wild settings display trans-gender physiology, fewer males, and in controlled experiments, eventually population collapse. 375 Surveys have found scores of such EDCs in virtually every Canadian river, wetland and drinking-water reservoir tested from coast to coast. 377 378

Of an estimated 23,000 such ‘chemicals of concern, Health Canada and Environment Canada has targeted 4,300 for re-evaluation, but does not expect to complete the task until 2020 at the earliest. 368 Toxicity information for nearly nine in ten chemicals in current use (87%) is missing, the Council of Canadian Academies warned in 2012. 379

Airborne wins and losses

Air quality presents the same mixed picture over the past two-and-a-half decades. While some pollutants, such as the nitrogen and sulfur oxides that created acid rain, have receded, others such as air-borne ammonia are on the rise. 380 Toxic mercury, carcinogenic hydrocarbons, and EDCs have been found to be accumulating on surfaces downwind from Alberta’s oil sands regions. 381 382

Global winds are blamed for carrying other pollutants from as far away as Asia to the Canadian arctic, where levels of exotic chemicals in the breast milk of nursing mothers in the North are on the rise. 368 383 At the same time, smoke from massive fires in Canada’s boreal forest in 2013 and 2014 was tracked as far away as Europe. 384 385

Forest fires in western Canada
Giant forest fires in western Canada are blamed for polluting the air as far away as Europe. (Photo by Vladimir Melnikov, Shutterstock)

Canada has no equivalent of the Clean Water Act or Clean Air Act that set mandatory standards for water and air quality in the United States, nor of the Water Framework Directive, which does the same thing for Europe’s water. 386 387 13 Instead, the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA), put into effect in 1989, allows the federal government to relinquish enforcement of water and air-quality goals to the provinces. 112 309

This policy has failed repeated assessments over 25 years. In 1990, the federal Auditor General found “a serious deterioration in compliance” in every sector where Ottawa had delegated its monitoring and enforcement authority to the provinces. 113 The most recent such federal-provincial agreement established national limits for some pollutants in municipal sewage effluent. However it postponed implementing those limits until 2020, for urgent cases, and as late as 2040 for all waste systems. 162

By 2011, the Environment Commissioner found that Environment Canada had been enforcing fewer than half (19 of 45) of its own CEPA regulations. 155 The department did not know whether it had been collecting reports that are legally required from six of nine “priority” polluting industries. And although it had added 68 enforcement positions since 2007, the number of inspections it actually conducted had dropped.

The tragic poster town for the undiminished risk Canadians face from toxic chemicals in their environment may be the small Anishinabek community of Aamjiwnaang, near Sarnia on the shore of the St. Clair River. 388 The settlement of 850 is surrounded by Canada’s highest concentration of petro-chemical plants; their emissions suffuse its homes, school and playgrounds. By the first decade of the new millennium, the ‘normal’ human birth ratio of about 105 males to 100 females was so far out of balance in Aamjiwnaang that newborn girls outnumbered boys by two to one. Coaches filled three girls’ softball teams, but could only scrape together enough boys for one.

It was an unsettling indicator that Canadians are well justified in continuing to worry about what may be in the air and water.

More Endangered than Ever

Most Species “Protected” Under Canadian Law Are Losing Ground

Canada has made strong commitments on biodiversity; fewer promises have been fully met

In a Canada Day poll a couple of years ago, 83 per cent of us identified our untamed landscape as a “good” or “great” reflection of Canadian identity. 389 And surely the iconic moose and orca, the loon that adorns the dollar and its twoonie counterpart the polar bear, the old national symbol of the beaver—all speak to Canadians’ affinity for the wildlife beyond our urban limits.

Slideshow: What’s Happening to Canada’s Iconic Wildlife?"

Our actual care for those iconic species and landscapes, let alone for lesser-known ones, reveals a quarter-century of unfulfilled good intentions however, and lengthening odds against the survival of many of our most emblematic fauna.

Six major and several minor federal laws have been enacted to protect Canada’s ecosystems. In 1989, two were already nearly as old as the country: the Fisheries Act protected all fish and their habitat; the Navigable Waters Protection Act protected all of Canada’s rivers and lakes. 391 392 Since 1930, the National Parks Act had allowed Ottawa to protect entire ecosystems. 393

Three more laws of importance were added over the last quarter century. The Canadian Environmental Protection Act, passed in 1988, came into effect in 1989; it consolidated federal powers to control air, water or ocean pollution. 112 An Environmental Assessment Act, added in 1992, was intended to anticipate and prevent harm to ecosystems from human development. 187 And in 2002 a Species at Risk Act promised to restore struggling wildlife populations. 194 Other legislation provided for Marine Conservation Areas, the protection of migratory birds, controls on the use of pesticides, and penalties for offenses under all of these laws.

The collective scope of this legislation is impressive. But multiple assessments have concluded that it is failing across the board. 35 46 48 Many of Canada’s most significant landscapes and species are more endangered now than at the start of the period we reviewed. 214

There is some good news: seals and whales once hunted to near extinction are recovering in all of the Pacific, Atlantic and Arctic Oceans, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans reported in 2010. 205

According to the same assessment by federal scientists, all three oceans are becoming more acid, threatening the future of shellfish, and experiencing more exotic chemical contamination. Stifling ‘dead zones’ are appearing off our Pacific and Atlantic coasts. Toxic mercury is accumulating in the Arctic Ocean. On both the east and west coasts, commercial fish stocks have collapsed and the average size of the remaining fish has declined. Marine ‘trophic’ indices—which reflect the complexity of life present—have declined, indicating that simpler forms like worms and jelly fish are replacing higher ones like fin fish and marine mammals.

Jellyfish in Canada's coastal zones
Jellyfish and other creatures low on the ‘trophic’ scale are replacing higher-ranked more vertebrate fish in Canada’s coastal zones. (Photo Allen McDavid Stoddard, Shutterstock)

Numerous factors contribute to those changes. However Canada lags far behind other countries with long coastlines in the portion that is protected. More than 30 per cent of U.S. and Australian coastlines have protected status, and more than 11 per cent of Russia’s; less than two per cent of Canada’s coastline is similarly secure. 395

In 2013, Canada’s Commissioner of the Environment advised Parliament that the federal government had not met its obligations under the Species At Risk Act. 343 Of 97 recovery plans the law required, only seven were in place. Of those, three failed to identify habitat crucial to the species’ survival, while others provided no budget or failed to say what agency would take actions required to reverse the species’ decline. 344

Federal reliance on the provinces to achieve national biodiversity goals has produced disappointing results. Nova Scotia, Manitoba and Saskatchewan have done the most to protect endangered species, but even in those provinces more than a quarter remain without statutory protection. 396 In other provinces, as few as five percent of at-risk species are protected.

Meanwhile, many supposedly protected populations are dwindling. Migratory waterfowl (ducks and geese valued by hunters) have been well protected, but other shore, grassland and forest birds “are in major decline,” the Environment Commissioner reported. 216 Disappearing fastest are “aerial insectivores that depend on flying insects for food.” British Columbia’s orcas, woodland and tundra caribou, and the Arctic bear that adorns Canada’s two-dollar piece are all among iconic megafauna that continue to face an uncertain future.

Vanishing Canada

Entire landscapes are also disappearing, albeit mostly beyond urban notice. In the south-west Arctic, spruce forests are collapsing as the permafrost beneath them melts. 398 A warmer, less stable climate is igniting more forest fires—that burn greater expanses of mature forest. 397 Above the advancing northern treeline, satellites have observed lakes both forming and disappearing by the hundreds. 399

Researchers speculate that British Columbia’s interior pine forests, devastated by a plague of bark beetles unleashed by warmer winters, will not return; rather, they will be replaced by prairie-like vegetation. 401 Once-continuous boreal forest in Alberta and Saskatchewan is now so sliced by cut-lines cleared for seismic surveying that the balance of forces between caribou and their top predator, wolves, has shifted decisively in the wolves’ favour. 207 402 Further east and south, rising temperatures are literally sucking the Great Lakes up into the air, increasing summer humidity and altering shorelines. 106

How fast these changes are occurring, especially to species on the losing end of habitat loss, is difficult to know. Ottawa abandoned an initiative to provide Canadians with regular reports on the State of the Environment in 1993, amid government-wide budget cuts.

Shrinking ice for Canada's polar bears
A changing climate is transforming Canada’s Arctic, shrinking the extent of floating sea ice on which polar bears and other wildlife rely. (Photo by Baranov E, Shutterstock)

In the economic downdraft following the 2008 financial crisis, federal personnel engaged in environmental science were cut further. 402 Several research facilities highly prized by researchers were scheduled for closure, although two—the Experimental Lakes Area in northwest Ontario and the Polar Environment Atmospheric Research Laboratory (PEARL) on Ellesmere Island, Canada’s northernmost point—received reprieves, one by transfer to a non-government operator, the latter with a five-year funding extension.

Ottawa also shifted the focus of federal support for science from government-sector research (typically focused on basic and natural-resource science) to technology development in the private and public-private university sectors. 403

There have been some new science investments. Ground was broken in August for a new $142 million lab facility at Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, about 1,300 km south of the PEARL site; it’s expected to begin operating in 2017. 354 404 And in August Ottawa announced $2.5 million (roughly one-tenth of what it budgets for prime ministerial security) for new climate research. 293

Nonetheless numerous investigations by think-tanks, scientific bodies, individual authors and the federal Commissioner of the Environment—including several predating the present government—have drawn attention to the failure to collect reliable, consistent and long-term observations of such key indicators of natural security as water flows, air contamination, or wildlife populations. 410 412

Environment Canada itself has acknowledged, in communications cited by the Environment Commissioner, that it has no idea whether nearly a third of Canada’s bird populations are safe from extinction. 342 Its ability to ensure the health of entire ecosystems is no better: in 2013 the Commissioner reported that it had “made little progress in monitoring activities, conditions, and threats for the protected areas it manages.” 343

These are not new lapses. In 2002 several groups lodged a complaint with the semi-judicial North American Commission on Environmental Cooperation that Canada, then under Liberal government, was not enforcing its laws protecting migratory birds. 417 In 2007, the Commission upheld the complaint. 197 418 The government, now under Conservative management, announced it was developing a new protection program but cancelled that initiative in 2010.

Limiting Protection

The third modern legal leg of federal wildlife protection is the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, created by a Progressive Conservative government in 1992. 187 Subsequent court decisions confirmed its country-wide force, and required its assessments to consider long-term as well as immediate impacts from development. 132 310

That Act was retired in 2012. A new Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (2012) requires far fewer reviews than the law it replaced—by one count, 3,000 fewer a year. 337 Changes the same year to the 144-year-old Fisheries Act and the similarly venerable Navigable Waters Protection Act—renamed the Navigation Protection Act— sharply reduced their coverage from all fish species and most waterways in Canada, to a listed handful. 336 159

In 2013, a global comparison of stewardship practices, led by Harvard economist Michael Porter, ranked Canada in 51st place among 132 countries in protecting its natural security—suggesting we care less for our iconic wildlife and landscapes than do either Bolivia or the Central African Republic. 45

A Different Country

As Canada delays, rising temperatures alter the landscape and test the economy.

Canada’s greenhouse emissions briefly dropped, and are now forecast to rise sharply

Nothing has changed more widely or dramatically over the past 25 years than the global climate. And on no other subject has Canada’s natural security policy reversed more sharply. In 1989, Canada was a leader in the international response to climate change. 227 228 In many assessments it is now deemed a laggard. 48 357

Over the same period, the evidence that human emissions of greenhouse gasses are the biggest factor in rising global temperatures has solidified. 256 280 The human and economic costs of disrupting familiar climate patterns has become sharply clearer. 258 292

The subject was well on Canadians’ radar a quarter century ago. Polled in 1989, almost 80 per cent responded that they were at least somewhat concerned about climate change. 360 In subsequent surveys, the share of Canadians expressing concern for the climate has never dropped below 80 percent, and reached 88 per cent in 2013. 361 362

That said, both Canadians’ acceptance of the scientific consensus that human activity is a leading factor in altering the climate, and their sense of how urgent it is to respond, have drifted downward in the past decade. Surveyed in 2007, 64.6 per cent of us agreed on a human role in climate change; 53.9 per cent thought it advisable to act sooner rather than later to contain its most dangerous implications. 358 By 2013, agreement on a human contribution to climate change had slipped eight points to 56.4 per cent; support for early action had fallen below 45 per cent. 419

Out front back in the day

Prime Minister Brian Mulroney was among the leaders of the world’s seven largest economies who called from their 1989 summit meeting in Paris for “common efforts to limit emissions of carbon dioxide.” 227 The previous year, Canada had hosted an international meeting that proposed a global goal of reducing human CO2 emissions by 20 percent by 2005. Soon after the Paris summit, Canada joined 59 other countries in endorsing that objective. 228

Canada was also an active participant in the 1992 Rio de Janeiro Earth Summit, where the ground was laid for the Kyoto accord on reducing greenhouse emissions, concluded five years later in 1997. 231 Canada, by then under a Liberal government, promised to reduce its 676 million tons (MT) of greenhouse emissions that year to 555 MT by 2012. 236

A global science assessment reported in 2001 that “demonstrable” change in global temperatures risked triggering “large-scale, high-impact, non-linear, and potentially abrupt changes” to Earth’s physical and biological systems. 242 Heat stress, invasive pathogens, disrupted food supplies, storms and floods, were becoming more common.

Canada did not act to implement its Kyoto commitments until 2005 however. Eighteen days after the protocol came into international force that February, Prime Minister Paul Martin’s government committed $1 billion to purchase credits testifying to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions anywhere in the world. 248 It promised additional money for research and demonstration projects aimed at reducing industrial emissions. The measures were passed into law later that year, shortly before a general election ended the Liberal mandate.

Within months, the newly elected Conservative minority government announced that Canada would not meet its Kyoto emission targets. 251 Nevertheless, it continued to assert that “this Government takes its responsibilities under the Kyoto Protocol very seriously.” And in early 2007 released a plan to reduce the “intensity” of industrial emissions (greenhouse gas releases per unit of output) by 18 per cent by 2010. The plan further envisaged a carbon price for industry of $65 a ton to take effect the same year, as well as an emissions trading system. 254

Canada's oil sands
Rising greenhouse gas emissions from oil and gas development have offset reductions elsewhere, pushing Canada’s overall contribution to climate change up. (Photo Chris Kolaczan, Shutterstock)

In March of 2008, Natural Resources Canada reported that our climate was already changing, in ways that “will exacerbate many current climate risks, and present new risks,” as well as some opportunities. 258 In particular, Canada is losing its winter ice—both in the Arctic and over the Great Lakes. Extreme weather threatens southern infrastructure, while “resource-dependent and Aboriginal communities are particularly vulnerable.” (A follow-up report in 2014 confirmed that all those trends continue. 288)

Two months later, Prime Minister Stephen Harper asserted that Canada would, “in a relatively short period of time restrain and reverse the growth of GHG emissions.” 260 Moreover, he said, “after 2012, oil sands operations will only be permitted if they can massively reduce their emissions.”

In the event, however, the government implemented none of the policies it had initially proposed. Instead, the government mandated specific emission reductions for various sectors of the economy. 264 Matching a US initiative, in 2012 it required automakers to cut new car and light truck emissions in half by 2025. 278 It ordered new and refurbished coal-burning power plants to reduce emissions by 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2020. 275 But speaking to Parliament as 2014 ended, the Prime Minister characterized as “crazy” calls for the implementation, assured six years earlier, of similar rules to limit Canada’s fastest-growing emissions source, the oil and gas industry.

Half of the ten southern provinces have in fact made headway in cutting their greenhouse emissions, but that accomplishment is more than offset by soaring emissions from Alberta and Saskatchewan (up 47 and 72 percent respectively between 1990 and 2012). 421 Meanwhile Canada’s government has turned against two counter-measures it once endorsed: either a carbon tax like one pioneered in British Columbia, or an emissions cap with permit trading, as Quebec launched this year with California. 422 253

Canada formally renounced its Kyoto commitments in 2011. 273 Before doing so however it agreed (in Copenhagen in 2009) to a new target to be met by 2020: emissions 17 percent below 2005 levels, roughly 611 MT. 265

Now that target too is beyond reach. Since dipping after the 2008 economic downturn, national emissions have been climbing again since 2010, reaching 726 MT a year —- almost 19 per cent above our revised goal. 421 In 2014 Canada reported to the United Nations that by 2020 our emissions are likely to breach 735 MT—20 per cent over its promise in by 2030. 283

Extreme precipitation
Calgary’s record-setting $4.8 billion 2013 flood was typical of the rising costs associated with more extreme precipitation caused by a warming climate. (Photo Ryan Morgan, Shutterstock)

Canada’s serial failures to meet its climate commitments have attracted international censure. They have been identified as a factor in our plummeting standing on environmental care. 48 53 In a 2014 assessment by Europe’s Climate Action Network of national responses to climate change, Morocco and Turkey warranted “good” grades; Canada, with Australia, Russia and Saudi Arabia, were graded as “very poor.” 357

The issue has created an intangible impediment to other national objectives, such as market access to Europe for Canadian crude oil and the proposed XL pipeline across America. 425 426

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned again late last year that humanity must achieve “stringent” reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, or face “irreversible and dangerous impacts.” 280 World leaders will meet in Paris again this year, to consider new national reduction commitments. In May, Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq said Canada would commit to reduce its emissions by 30 per cent below their 2005 levels by 2030. The 515 MT target is 6.5 per cent lower than Canada’s 1997 commitment at Kyoto–but to be achieved 18 years later.

Costs becoming clearer

Meanwhile, the cost of climate instability has come into sharper focus over 25 years. A report released with little fanfare by Natural Resources Canada early in 2014 warned that some livelihoods will no longer be “feasible and/or cost-effective” in the near future. 288 Indeed, it appeared to endorse a fatalistic approach for some: selling “last chance tourism,” to witness wildlife and landscapes before they disappear.

Property damage from increasingly volatile weather has soared since 1989. 2013’s record-setting summer floods in Calgary and Toronto and year-end ice-storms typify the violent extremes being energized by additional heat in the global oceans and atmosphere. 99 Hotter summers nurture more frequent poisonous algae blooms—raising health risks and water treatment costs. 365 The B.C. and federal governments have spent over $1.2 billion so far to help communities adjust to the loss of forests devastated by insects no longer controlled by winter cold. 427 Toronto’s Mowat Centre warns that the loss of water from the Great Lakes will cost its region $9.6 billion (and waterfront property owners directly $794 million) by 2030. 106

Other studies have refined estimates of the risk that climate change presents to the global economy, as well as the benefits of limiting its advance. The World Bank calculated last year that tackling climate change would boost world gross economic product by $2.6 trillion (about three percent of its 2011 value) within 16 years. 104 Shortly after, the International Monetary Fund reported that a national carbon tax modeled on British Columbia’s would boost growth in Canada by close to 0.8 per cent of GDP—about as much as the economy expanded in the first three months of 2014. 297

After a quarter century of unmet commitments and climate policy neglect however, Canada finds itself ill-positioned to take advantage of such returns on initiative.

Billions of Reasons to Change

Impaired natural security leaves Canada at a global disadvantage.

Researchers have cracked the code to work out nature’s dollar value to the economy

It’s an old economic truism, a corollary of the law of supply and demand, that scarcity creates value. In an era when natural capital is disappearing, it is also increasingly highly valued. Canada’s ineffective stewardship of its ecological assets puts at risk hundreds of billions, potentially trillions, of dollars worth of wealth, in addition to intrinsic and cultural values.

Economists have estimated that the ecological services provided by the Mackenzie River watershed in northern Canada are worth some $571 billion a year—thirteen and a half times the region’s official GDP of $42 billion. 83 In 2014 an unknown portion of that wealth went up in smoke, when fires consumed vast swaths of boreal forest. Soot from the fires in the Northwest Territories drifted downwind to darken Greenland’s ice sheets, hastening their melt. 384

The anecdote illustrates how perceptions of environmental stewardship and risk have tightened over a quarter-century. Canadians feared for their natural security as long ago as 1989, when eight in ten of us agreed at least somewhat in surveys (and half of us, “strongly”), that pollution “threatens the survival of the human race.” 360

The nature and extent of that threat are now much clearer, as is how much we stand to lose.

The eco-systems that provide Canadians with their natural security, that sustain health and prosperity, are weakening and degrading. While some old hazards are in check, others have resurfaced and new ones are appearing in our air and water. 372 Wildlife and landscapes deeply woven into Canadians’ identity are at more risk now than 25 years ago. 366 394 And a quarter-century after Canada’s government endorsed cutting our annual greenhouse gas emissions to 472 MT within sixteen years, they are nearly one and a half times that, and will rise more by 2020 and beyond. 283

If Canada has realized few of the good intentions embodied in its array of environmental legislation, research and experience have heightened our awareness of what’s at stake. Setting aside—though not discounting—the intangible cultural and spiritual values received from natural landscapes, the release of tension found in an urban park or remote campsite, and the moral “existence value” imputed to non-human creatures, close analysis has revealed with growing precision the measurable benefits that natural infrastructure provides to our dollar-denominated economy.

An early study, for example, estimated in 1996 that British Columbia received $2.75 billion a year (adjusted for inflation to 2014) in non-lumber value from its pre-pine-beetled forests, mainly from outdoor recreation, but also from wildlife viewing and recreational fishing and hunting. 59

Ontario's greenbelt
Southern Ontario’s ‘greenbelt’ provides benefits valued at $2.7 billion a year to the province’s residents. (Photo SF Photo, Shutterstock)

Investigators have since revealed the economic value of services that Ontarians derive from Toronto’s greenbelt: farmland, recreational areas, water collection and air quality benefits ring in at $2.7 billion a year. 77 Toronto’s trees were revealed in a different study to be worth more than $80 million annually, in services that run from energy-saving shade to scrubbing pollutants from the air; that amount was more than the city spent in 2014 on economic development and recreation. The asset value of the urban forest was assessed at $7 billion. 103

The value of climate-threatening carbon stored in Manitoba’s 50 million hectares of boreal forest was assessed in 2014 at $117 billion—10 times the province’s full budget—not counting recreation, hunting, and other economic contributions. 101

Our peers and trading partners are moving beyond the outdated perspective that economic and natural security present a zero-sum dilemma, in which preserving the environment can only reduce prosperity. Policies increasingly recognize that the two are additive: that resilient, productive ecosystems also expand national and corporate bottom lines.

Some of these suggest practical steps for Canadians to consider, in order to reverse the erosion of our environmental advantage.

Standards and accountability

It may be axiomatic that it’s impossible to manage what you don’t measure. Yet a recurrent complaint among experts is that Canada lacks the consistent and timely reporting of critical ecological variables, from snow depth to species populations, needed to support sound decisions. In the words of a joint federal-provincial study in 2010: “Information critical to the assessment of ecosystem health is missing.” 414

Nearly 50 European governments have countered their own impulse to overlook environmental decay by joining the Aarhus Convention. It commits them to gather and publish enough information about their national environment to establish its status. Anyone who believes a government is failing to do so, may request an arms-length investigation and ask national courts to compel compliance with any judgment that results. 10

Near-term electoral rewards may tempt any democratic government to overlook long-term environmental losses in its decisions. Britain, India, Australia and the United States all broadly share Canada’s legal tradition, but have found at least a partial answer in a legal doctrine known as the “Public Trust.” 428

Derived from Roman antecedents, it holds that governments have an inescapable duty to current and future citizens to protect certain natural features, especially related to water—and that citizens may ask the courts to force governments to meet that responsibility. Written into constitutions and simple legislation, the doctrine has obliged governments at all levels to improve their stewardship.

Canadians remain as concerned for the security of their air and water today as they were in 1989. Justifiably: new biological and synthetic toxic threats have emerged, and Canada continues to lack mandatory national air or water pollution limits.

The United States has had mandatory standards for air and water quality for over 40 years. Contained in the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts, they are enforced on a county-by-county basis. 386 387 Rules adopted in the European Union in 2007 require importers and manufacturers to replace the most toxic industrial compounds with more benign alternatives; the changes are expected to save the EU $4 billion a year in health costs. 28

Other countries and some provinces have pioneered other effective approaches to better environmental stewardship: regulated water ‘markets’ (Australia and Alberta); watershed-based stewardship (France and, for more than seven decades, Ontario); taxes on carbon emissions (Britain, British Columbia) 429; special courts that can order companies to compensate communities for lost eco-services (Mexico) 430; and legal rights to a clean environment (Mexico and more than 110 other countries). 431

There has been another transformative advance in the quarter century since 1989: plummeting technology costs now make it affordable for environmental managers to stay on top of complex and variable natural conditions in real-time. Examples can be found in southwestern Alberta and British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley where mounting water scarcity has prompted the development of highly sophisticated tracking systems that could prove models for the rest of the country. 432

Only the Norse and the Swiss are more likely than Canadians to rank the environment as their country’s most important issue. 355 The same world study that revealed that curious factoid however, also scored Canadians’ actual behavior as “green” consumers in 16th place among the 17 countries it examined—marginally above dead last.

The shortfall between the environmental aspirations we express as Canadians, and Canada’s achievements over the past quarter-century, is irrefutable. But it’s not inevitable. Effective models for action surround us. And the same 25-year perspective reveals that we have a fast-rising economic, as well as ecological, stake in the outcome.

A Simple Question

How and why this report came to be: Disclosure, methods and sources

About the project

Tyee Solutions Society (TSS) is a Canadian non-profit society that uses traditional investigative journalism techniques and innovative presentations to provide citizens with the information they need to create positive change. Its previous work has included new approaches to aboriginal education, solutions for affordable housing, practical ideas for ‘greening’ Canada’s oil sands, and more.

This TSS project asked a deceptively simple question: Cutting through all partisan rhetoric, how well has Canada cared for its environment, really?

The result is a ‘just the facts ma’am’ record of the best answers we could find. To make our report the most objective one possible without conducting prohibitively expensive original science, we spent 10 months combing the most reliable publicly available sources: government documents, scientific papers, reports from independent international bodies, leading research and think-tank organizations.

To help overcome a potential bias toward only the most recent activities, we examined a full quarter-century of Canada’s environmental record—a period during which five Prime Ministers from three parties occupied 24 Sussex Drive. This method had some weaknesses. Some older and formerly public government reports have become difficult to obtain as a result of changes to archiving policy. Continuous records of key environmental variables are in any case few (as many of the reports we reviewed also observed). Some information simply did not exist in 1989. Evidence-based ranking of countries’ environmental stewardship dates only to 2000. In other cases time liberated information that might once have been locked behind proprietary walls—such as detailed polling results.

The search produced hundreds of individual records, across six environmental dimensions, covering the entire period chronologically. These records, with links to many of their sources, can be found here; we hope other researchers find them of use. We have made every effort to confirm the accuracy of each of these, but do not guarantee it all cases. For some earlier events, dates are best approximations. We will be grateful to have errors brought to our attention.

We ourselves draw no broader conclusion than this to the general question we were asked: “How well has Canada cared for its environment, really?” Sadly, not very well.

The Organizations & People Behind Bottom Lines

This series was produced by the Tyee Solutions Society (TSS) with generous support from Gencon Foundation. TSS’ funders neither influence nor endorse the particular content of TSS’ reporting and guarantee its full editorial autonomy.

We are also grateful to the Environmental Law Centre at the University of Victoria for its assistance in identifying and providing analysis of key legislative and judicial developments since 1989, and to Evidence for Democracy for data relating to government support for science. We’ve made our research freely available for any individual or organization who finds it useful.

The Team

  • Chris Wood, Research & Reporting
  • David Beers, Editing
  • Phillip Smith, Web Producer
  • Alex Grunenfelder, Creative Director
  • Sarah Berman, Associate Producer
  • Michelle Hoar, Project Administrator
  • Carra Simpson, Project Administrator

Photo credits

All images unless otherwise noted here were provided by Shutterstock.

Polluted water photo by Jes Abeita in Your BC: The Tyee’s Photo Pool.

Leaf on cement photo by Elvis in Your BC: The Tyee’s Photo Pool.

Caribou skull photo by Waferboard in Your BC: The Tyee’s Photo Pool.

Whales photo by Carrie Cole in Your BC: The Tyee’s Photo Pool.

Satellite of Saskatchewan oil pads (photo Google Earth)

Smokestacks photo by Chris Yakimov in Your BC: The Tyee’s Photo Pool.

Reprints

Tyee Solutions Society offers its reporting free of charge to be republished by other media. If you wish to re-publish elements of this project or any other TSS-produced article, please contact Chris Wood.

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guide

Twenty-five years of active lawmaking has not halted the decline of Canada’s ecosystems or environmental standing.

When others grade our stewardship, Canada consistently falls short of its citizens’ aspirations

Nothing says ‘Canada’ quite like a scenic vista—be it Gros Morne, the Saskatchewan sky, or a whale breeching in the Salish Sea. Canadians are justly proud of the vast variety of our landscapes. Our pride and concern for our natural environment has been rock-steady over a quarter of a century. Only Swiss and Norwegian citizens are more likely than Canadians to identify the environment as their No. 1 political issue. 355

Our leaders have appeared to be in step. Regardless of party, they have regularly assured us that Canada’s natural security is well protected. Legislation has been enacted across an impressive range of fronts, from protecting species to penalizing polluters and preventing foreseeable harm linked resource.

Yet independent assessments and a candid account of our history tell quite a different story. Much of this country’s original wealth was created by logging forests for timber, breaking native prairie for grain fields, and blasting minerals from hard rock. The idea that environmental loss is a regrettable but necessary price for prosperity has been deeply engrained. Last year, the Prime Minister argued against additional measures to preserve a stable climate by saying, “No country is going to take actions that are going to deliberately destroy jobs and growth in their country.”

That this conventional wisdom is wrong is one of the clearest signals to emerge from the past quarter-century. To the contrary, a growing body of evidence reveals the very large economic benefits that flow from healthy ecosystems, and the correspondingly high cost of their loss or disruption.

Significantly, as the value of the security these natural systems provide has come more sharply into focus since the turn of the century, Canada’s standing on environmental stewardship has slipped from near the top of the class among developed countries, to near or even at the very bottom.

We examined the actions that Canada’s governments—of differing political stripes—have taken to protect and secure the environment since 1989, as well as the global context of those actions. Over the 25-year period to 2014, we found that state-of-the-art legislation to protect biodiversity, the safety of air and water, and critical natural systems, has never been fully implemented or effectively enforced. Numerous mandated goals remain unmet.

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The consequences of bi-partisan neglect are now becoming apparent. Many supposedly ‘protected’ species are at greater risk today than they were in 1989. New and more elusive chemical threats have replaced older biological ones in Canada’s water—although some of the latter are also back with a vengeance.

Ambitious goals articulated a quarter-century ago to reduce Canada’s climate-altering greenhouse gas emissions have slipped by unmet. Our contributions to climate change have reversed a brief decline and are now again trending upward, even as its manifestations take a growing toll on livelihoods and structures.

Elsewhere, international investors and key agencies like the World Bank and International Monetary Fund now question the conventional Canadian wisdom that expanding the economy is worth any price to the environment. Bodies that report on how well different countries’ maintain their natural security have made the same link.

From ‘A’s to ‘F’s

Such rankings are only as old as the new century. One of the earliest was completed in 2000 as a pilot project for the World Economic Forum. Combining 64 indicators, the Yale Centre for Environmental Law and Policy and Columbia University Center for International Earth Science ranked Canada 7th among 56 developed and developing countries.12 In a more polished version the following year, Canada scored even better: third in a field of 122. 14

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But more critical assessments surfaced almost at once. In the same year that Yale and Columbia placed Canada third in the world, researchers at the University of Victoria called Canada’s environmental record, “one of the poorest of the industrialized countries.” 16 In follow-up comparisons, the same team ranked Canada 28th among 30 wealthy countries in 2005, and 24th of 25 in 2010. 25 35

Other assessments have reached the same unflattering conclusion: against its developed peers, Canada trails. The United Nations Environment Program put us as low as 43rd in the world in environmental “vulnerability” in 2005. 26 The business-oriented Conference Board of Canada scored us 15th among 17 countries in 2013. 46

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That same year the Centre for Global Development put us last in class for environmental care: 27th in a field of 27 rich, educated nations. 48 And last year the Climate Action Network and a research partner again placed Canada at the very bottom of 58 countries whose climate protection policies they evaluated. 357

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Our national decline in global stewardship rankings is at odds with Canadians’ priorities over the same years as captured in opinion polls, although these also reveal that we’ve long been skeptical that our governments were up to the job.

Back in 1989, more than four-fifths of Canadians polled by Environics Research agreed at least somewhat (and fully half felt so “strongly”) that pollution “threatens the very survival of the human race.” 360 More than nine in ten of us were at least somewhat concerned about specific issues like acid rain, toxic chemicals, and air and water quality. Concern for wildlife followed closely. Climate change was on the minds of eight Canadians in ten even then.

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At the same time, Canadians were roughly split on whether the federal government was doing a “fair” job protecting the environment, or a “poor” one. Four in ten nonetheless optimistically believed the environment would improve over the following decade. A dozen years later, further research by the same company revealed that public concern about threats like toxic chemicals, water quality and wildlife, had hardly changed. 361 Confidence in the federal government was up modestly: by 2001 more than half of Canadians felt it was doing a “fair” job; only 29% rated it “poor.”

The financial crisis that struck in 2008 dramatically changed Canadians’ priorities. The year before, polls had placed the environment in a statistical tie with health care as the country’s most important problem in citizens’ eyes. 358 By the following year, it had dropped to a distant third, buried by worry over the economy. 359

There has been a corresponding drop-off in pollsters’ interest in Canadians’ environmental views since then, but a handful of studies confirm that our concern hasn’t lessened.

Environics found in 2013 that more Canadians identified the economy than the environment as the country’s #1 issue just then. 362 But when they considered the future, they saw the loss of our natural security as the greatest threat. Other research found that while Canadians’ have become more certain that human activity is causing climate change, their confidence in government to be the “lead actor” in response, has dropped.

In short: Canadians’ concern for the environment has changed little over 25 years. Governments claim to have taken effective action. Yet our grades are dropping. Below, we explore this paradox in detail.

  1. Widely applauded as one of the most successful international treaties ever, and the only one to be ratified by all 197 world nations and the European Union, the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, under the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer, provided for the phase-out of hydroflourocarbons and other chemicals identified as damaging the earth's ozone layer, which protects terrestrial life from excessive ultraviolet radiation. (Visit source)

  2. The 301-m. long oil tanker Exxon Valdez runs aground on a reef in Prince William Sound, Alaska, spilling between 257,000 and 750,000 barrels of crude oil into the coastal environment. The spill devastates wildlife and local indigenous communities. (Visit source)

  3. European nations sign the Maastricht Treaty, beginning the process to European Union and continent-wide environmental standards.

  4. The Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal, addresses for the first time the temptation for poor countries to become dumping grounds for cast-off First World toxic chemicals. It bans the export of toxic waste -- with the exception of radioactive waste -- from developed nations to developing ones. Efforts have since been made to extend the ban to ships which may contain asbestos and other toxic substances sent to poor nations to be broken up for scrap. Canada has opposed that extension. (Visit source)

  5. The United Nations Conference on Environment and Development brings 176 governments and thousands of NGO representatives together over two weeks in Rio de Janeiro to hammer out goals and an agenda for sustainable development. Delegates sign the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change that will lead to the Kyoto Protocol. (Visit source)

  6. The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), better known as the Biodiversity Convention, comes into force with Canada as a party. It sets three goals for protecting biological diversity, sustainable use of living resources, and fair and equitable sharing of the economic benefits of diverse biogenetics. The agreement covers all ecosystems as well as individual species, and embeds the Precautionary Principle, urging governments not to postpone remedial action to avert threats of significant loss of biodiversity even absent full scientific certainty. (Visit source)

  7. In a side-agreement to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), Canada, the United States and Mexico sign the North American Agreement on Environmental Cooperation. It creates a Commission on Environmental Cooperation, housed in Montreal, to study environmental issues in the trade bloc and provide information to the public and decision-makers. The Commission is empowered to investigate public complaints that any NAFTA member state is failing to enforce its own environmental laws. The Commission has no enforcement power however, and NAFTA state representatives must approve--and may prevent--its investigations. (Visit source)

  8. Canada is among the signatories to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, as it takes effect on Boxing Day, 1996. The only international convention to spring directly from the 1992 Rio Earth Summit, the Convention on Desertification aims to marshall international and national action to combat drought and the loss of productive farmland to desert. Drought is occurring more often, and lasting longer, under the emerging climate. By 2013, as much as 30 per cent of Earth’s land surface had become too dry to farm—twice as much as before 1980. (Visit source)

  9. The "Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters,"--better known as the Aarhus Convention--is adopted in Europe. It commits member-state governments to gather enough information about their country's environment to establish its health status, and make that data available on request to any petitioner, whether a citizen of the country or not. Aarhus also empowers any citizen or organization with a complaint that a signatory country is not adequately reporting on its natural security, to trigger an investigation by an international panel of legal experts. The panel's verdict and recommendations are not binding, but petitioners may ask national courts to compel compliance. By 2014, 46 mainly European countries are parties to the Convention. Canada is not. (Visit source)

  10. The United Nations Population Fund estimates that world population has reached six billion people. Dr. Nafis Sadik, the Fund’s executive director, notes that the date arrives later than once forecast. "However, world population is still increasing by 78 million people a year. Ninety-seven per cent of that increase is in developing countries, where access to family planning and reproductive health services is limited and where pregnancy and childbirth are still a risk to the lives and health of women." (Visit source)

  11. Canada's eco-stewardship ranks seventh among 56 countries. In a first effort to develop a comparative index for the World Economic Forum by which to compare different countries' economic sustainability, the Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy, and the Columbia University Center for International Earth Science Information Network, combine 64 indicators of national environmental care and performance. (Visit source)

  12. Enacted after a decade of development, the European Union’s ‘Water Framework Directive’ sets out unprecedented goals for its surface and subsurface water, as well as for water in estuaries and marine water within 1 nautical mile of the coast. The Directive sets a target of 2015 for all of Europe’s surface water to be restored to “good” condition. Its definition of “good” is also novel: water must meet both “chemical” and “ecological” standards. The former are based on maximum concentrations of named pollutants; the latter on indices of biological health such as biodiversity. (Variation is permitted for unusual natural conditions such as mineral hot springs.) (Visit source)

  13. Canada's eco-stewardship is the third best in the world. Developed by analysts at Yale and Columbia universities for the World Economic Forum, the first Environmental Sustainability Index merges multiple indicators reflecting the state of a country's ecosystems, the degree of human pressure on the environment, human risk from natural hazards, the country's social and institutional capacity, and its stewardship of the global environment. Canada ranks third among 122 countries. (Visit source)

  14. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Christine Whitman, speaking for the newly inaugurated President George W. Bush, announces that the United States will not proceed with its commitments under the Kyoto Protocol to reduce greenhouse gasses. The commitments had been made by former President Bill Clinton. “We have no interest implementing that treaty,” Whitman says. National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice declares Kyoto “dead.” (Visit source)

  15. Canada's eco-stewardship ranks 28th among 29 countries. A detailed examination by researchers at the University of Victoria of Canada's performance on 25 indicators in ten environmental categories, from air pollution to waste management, concludes that, "Canada has one of the poorest environmental records of the industrialized countries." (Visit source)

  16. The Aarhus Convention comes into force, committing its mainly European member states to monitor their national environments and make the results public. The Convention also empowers citizens or groups to trigger independent investigations if they believe a country is not living up to its commitments. (Visit source)

  17. The Yale/Columbia Environmental Sustainability Index, developed for the World Economic Forum, merged 76 data sets tracking natural capital, pollution, ecological stewardship, and a country’s human and financial ability to improve its standard of care, into a single index score. Canada's eco-stewardship ranks fourth among the 142 countries studied. (Visit source)

  18. Twenty-one years after signing the landmark Convention on the Law of the Sea in 1983, Canada ratifies the centerpiece of international ocean law. The convention recognizes signatories’ marine territorial and exclusive economic zones (within 12 and 200 nautical miles from their coastlines, respectively), and their jurisdiction over certain fish and all non-living resources to the edge of the continental shelf. Signatories commit to cooperate in conserving transient fish stocks and fisheries on the high seas. The convention gives states authority over vessels carrying their flag anywhere on the globe, including the high seas, but also makes them responsible for controlling the activities of those vessels wherever they operate. (Visit source)

  19. The Rotterdam Convention on Prior Informed Consent for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade, comes into force with Canada as a member. The convention is intended to prevent toxic compounds from being misidentified for international sale, or otherwise entering a country that wishes to exclude them. It calls on exporting nations to require accurate chemical labelling, with directions for a product’s safe handling and disclosure of any known restrictions or bans on a product’s use. Party nations may ban the import of chemicals listed in the convention without triggering trade retaliation, and exporting party nations are obligated to respect those bans. (Visit source)

  20. The Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants comes into force. The convention commits member states, including Canada, to take action to reduce and eliminate the intentional or accidental production of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) -- toxic chemicals that bio-accumulate and move up the food chain, posing dangers to human and wildlife. The operations of the heavy oil industry generate substantial volumes of POPs. (Visit source)

  21. Canada's eco-stewardship ranks 6th among 146 countries. The Yale/Columbia Environmental Sustainability Index for the World Economic Forum, ranks the world's countries' stewardship based on 76 data sets tracking natural capital, pollution, ecological stewardship, and a country’s human and financial ability to improve its standard of care. (Visit source)

  22. The Kyoto Protocol on greenhouse gas emissions reduction comes into force after Russia ratifies it. Canada commits to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by six per cent below their levels in 1990--to roughly 555 megatons--by 2020. In 2012, the most recent year for which Canada has reported its emissions, national emissions stood at 699 MT. (Visit source)

  23. More than 1,000 leading international life and earth scientists assess the condition of 24 terrestrial and marine ecosystem that supply essential services to mankind, from fresh air to food and water. Their ‘Millennium Ecosystem Assessment’ reports that 15 of those (60 per cent) are in serious decline. Five more are stable but threatened. Only four have improved over the last half-century. Humans have transformed natural ecosystems faster and more comprehensively than ever before in human history in order to secure food, fresh water, fiber and fuel—with a wide and largely irreversible loss of other species. (Visit source)

  24. Canada ranks 28th among 30 countries in eco-stewardship. Comparing Canada to other leading industrial-country members of the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development), on 29 indicators ranging from conservation of nature to sustainable building, researchers based at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, B.C., rank Canada in the bottom three of wealthy nations on environmental care. (Visit source)

  25. Canada comes 43rd, among 234 countries and autonomous zones, in protecting its environmental resilience. Developed by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the South Pacific Applied Geoscience Commission (SOPAC), the Environmental Vulnerability Index captured 50 indicators of a country’s vulnerability to environmental shock. A higher score indicates greater resilience; a lower one, greater vulnerability. (Visit source)

  26. Canada's eco-stewardship ranks eighth among 133 countries. The Joint Research Centre of the European Commission joins the Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy, and Columbia University Center for International Earth Science Information Network to inaugurate the Environmental Performance Index for the World Economic Forum. The index compares different countries' environmental performance across multiple weighted indicators. (Visit source)

  27. The European Union’s “Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals” (REACH) regulation takes effect. It obliges any company that imports or manufactures more than a metric tonne of a material to register it with a central database in Helsinki, along with information about its effects on human health and the environment. If the material is determined to pose serious and irreversible risk, it cannot be used without official authorization. Before receiving authorization, companies must look for a suitable, less-toxic substitute. Over time, manufacturers must replace extremely toxic compounds with more benign alternatives. A review by the World Bank forecasts that the system will take fifteen years to institute and cost governments and businesses as much as $6.5 billion—but will also save Europe’s health care system $60 billion over the same period. (Visit source)

  28. Canada's eco-stewardship ranks 14th among 17 countries. Poor scores on climate change, waste generation, and the overuse of water, pull down Canada's better marks for air quality and forest cover, giving us a 'D' overall in the Conference Board of Canada's comparison of environmental performance among 17 leading industrial nations. (Visit source)

  29. Canada falls to 12th place in the World Economic Forum's Environmental Performance Index. Developed by the Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy, Columbia University Center for International Earth Science Information Network and the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission, the index compares the environmental performance of 149 countries across 25 indicators. (Visit source)

  30. Canada drops one place to 15th among 17 OECD countries ranked for environmental stewardship by the Conference Board of Canada. The assessment scores performance on 15 indicators across six dimensions of stewardship: air quality, waste, water quality and quantity, biodiversity and conservation, natural resources management, and climate change and energy efficiency. The Board ranks Canada near the bottom, awarding it a ‘C’ grade and singling out its poor performance on climate change, its heavy water use and the volumes of waste produced. (Visit source)

  31. Canada is last among eight top industrial countries in climate stewardship. Consulting company Ecofys ranks the top eight industrialized countries and five major developing countries according to their climate policy for the conservation organization WWF and the global insurance firm Allianz SE. Canada comes last among the leading industrial nations. “Nowhere else on Earth do fewer people steward more resources, yet Canada now stands dead last amongst the G8 Nations in protecting our shared home from the threat of dangerous climate change,” says Keith Stewart, Director of WWF-Canada’s Climate Change Campaign. (Visit source)

  32. Canada's eco-stewardship ranks 46th in world. The Yale/Columbia/European Commission Environmental Performance Index for the World Economic Forum, compares 163 countries' environmental performance across 25 indicators. (Visit source)

  33. Two environmental-law groups and three Canadian citizens ask the Montreal-based Commission on Environmental Cooperation, established under NAFTA, to investigate the allegation "that the Government of Canada is in breach of its commitment… to effectively enforce … the Canadian Fisheries Act against the practice of leaking deleterious substances from oil sands tailings ponds.” The act prohibits the direct or indirect "deposition of deleterious substances into waters frequented by fish,” their submission notes. Environmental Defence and US-based Natural Resources Defense Council cite studies showing that oil sands operations leak four billion litres (one billion gallons) of toxic fluids into the surface environment each year. “The Canadian government has neither prosecuted any company for documented surface water contamination,” the brief adds, “nor has it pursued regulation governing tailings pond leakage. It relies on the Government of Alberta to alert it to possible violations of the Fisheries Act, and Alberta in turn relies on industry self-reporting.” (Two years later, the government will amend the Fisheries Act to replace those general prohibitions with narrower ones.) (Visit source)

  34. Canada is second-last in the OECD in eco-stewardship. Examining 28 indicators of effective environmental care reported by industrial-state members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, researchers at the School of Resource and Environmental Management, at Simon Fraser University, rank Canada 24th among 25 countries, just ahead of the United States. (Visit source)

  35. Britain's first-ever National Ecosystem Assessment calculates that wetlands, natural pollinators, and greenspace amenities contribute the equivalent of $6 billion CAD (£3.23 billion) a year in economic value to UK citizens. (Visit source)

  36. Canada’s delegation to an international meeting held under the Rotterdam Convention on the control of toxic products blocks the listing of chrysotile asbestos, a powerful carcinogen, among products whose producers must warn purchasers of their dangers, and which importing countries may choose to ban for health reasons. It is the third time Canada, a major asbestos producer from mines in Quebec, has blocked asbestos’ listing. In 2012, Canada will abandon its opposition. (Visit source)

  37. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon marks the day that estimated global population reaches seven billion people. “Today, we welcome baby seven billion,” Ban said told international media in New York. “In doing so we must recognize our moral and pragmatic obligation to do the right thing for him, or for her.” Ban observes that the world’s last population milestone--six billion people--passed just 13 years ago in 1998, and called on world leaders to meet the challenge of growing human populations by ensuring the supply of food and clean water, and guaranteeing equal access to human security and justice. (Visit source)

  38. Hours after returning from a United Nations climate conference, Environment Minister Peter Kent announces that Canada will withdraw from the Kyoto Protocol rather than pay $14 billion in penalties for failing to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by six per cent from 1990 levels by 2012. In fact, Canada's emissions have risen 30 per cent, mainly from oilsands development. Russia and the United States have also withdrawn from the Protocol. (Visit source)

  39. Canada's eco-stewardship ranks 37th among 132 countries. Developed by the Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy, and Columbia University Center for International Earth Science Information Network, in collaboration with the World Economic Forum and the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission, the index provides a way to compare different countries' environmental performance across multiple indicators. (Visit source)

  40. Canada and the United States renew the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, first signed in 1972. It is the second time the agreement has been renewed. This update addresses the effects of climate change on the Great Lakes for the first time, but also abandons the specific objectives of earlier versions. (Visit source)

  41. Canada announces it will no longer block the listing under the Rotterdam Convention of Canadian-mined chrysotile asbestos, a powerful carcinogen, among products whose producers must warn purchasers of their dangers, and which importing countries may choose to ban for health reasons. (Visit source)

  42. A comparison by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) of its member countries' national, provincial and local government support for scientific research and development (spending as a percentage of GDP) ranks Canada in 18th place out of 23 countries. With science spending about 25 per cent below the OECD average, Canada falls below Hungary. (Visit source)

  43. Canada informs the United Nations that it is withdrawing from the international Convention to Combat Desertification. No announcement is made to the Canadian public, although media report the decision the following week. The government cites the Convention as ineffective and bureaucratic. Canada is the only signatory to withdraw from the Convention, and becomes the only UN member not a party to it. The world continues to lose about 12 million hectares of productive land to expanding deserts every year--roughly the equivalent of all the farmland in Ontario and Manitoba combined. (Visit source)

  44. The non-profit Social Progress Imperative, directed by Harvard economist Michael Porter, ranked most of the world's countries for factors that encourage human well being. Overall, Canada scored very well: in seventh place, the best of any major industrial economy. On environmental care, however, Canada wasn't even in the top third, coming 51st among 132 countries. (Visit source)

  45. Canada's eco-stewardship remains the second-poorest among advanced nations. Canadians generate more garbage per person than any other developed country. That, our world-leading energy consumption, and water withdrawals of twice the industrial country average, place Canada 15th out of 17 leading countries in The Conference Board of Canada’s "How Canada Performs" environmental ranking, earning us a 'C' grade. (Visit source)

  46. Canada becomes an early signatory of a new international treaty to control and reduced the emission of mercury to the environment. Mercury is a potent neurotoxin (the convention is named after Minamata, Japan, the site of an infamous contamination episode). The treaty calls on signatory nations to reduce air emissions of mercury in particular, but does not take effect until 50 nations have ratified it. Although Canada signed, it did not ratify the convention. Separately, Canadian scientists have identified rising mercury emissions as the number one pollution concern from expanding oil sands extraction. (Visit source)

  47. The Washington, DC-based Center for Global Development ranks Canada in last place among 20 wealthy nations scored for their stewardship of the environment. The report identifies as weaknesses Canada's high greenhouse gas emissions, low gas taxes, and "poor compliance with reporting requirements" under its international biodiversity commitments. (Visit source)

  48. Canada's eco-stewardship ranking recovers slightly to 24th place, according to the Yale/Columbia/European Commission Environmental Performance Index for the World Economic Forum. The 2014 index ranks 178 countries across a reduced number of 20 indicators. (Visit source)

  49. Documents released to the Broadbent Institute under an Access to Information request reveal that Canada closed the environment section of the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT) in 2011, and was no longer engaging diplomatic partners in maintaining or expanding seven international conventions to control the spread of pollution. The documents redact the names of the affected conventions, but independent research indicates they include the Montreal Protocol to protect the ozone layer, the Basil Convention on the movement of toxic wastes, International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution From Ships, and several others. (Visit source)

  50. A quarter-century after the Exxon Valdez ran aground in Prince William Sound on the south Alaska coast, the area's wildlife have not completely recovered. Salmon and sea otters have returned to the area in pre-spill numbers, but crab, herring, orca and some seabird populations have not recovered. (Visit source)

  51. Two U.S. agencies, the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (responsible for most of the country's dykes and many water diversions) issue a joint draft rule to greatly expand federal jurisdiction over "waters of the United States." The new ruling declares that upland tributaries and wetlands that contribute to the health and stability of larger rives and lakes, also fall under federal oversight. (Visit source)

  52. Canada pulls up, but still fails to break into the top one-third of countries in environmental stewardship. The non-profit Social Progress Imperative, directed by Harvard economist Michael Porter, ranked countries for a variety of factors that encourage human well-being. On the environment, Canada moves up four spots to 47th from 51st place among 132 countries. Overall, Canada holds its seventh place ranking, the best of any major industrial economy. (Visit source)

  53. The Montreal-based Commission on Environmental Cooperation notifies Canada that it is recommending that an investigation prepare “a factual record” to “provide the public with a better understanding of Environment Canada’s [Fisheries Act] enforcement strategy and actions as they pertain to oil sands tailings ponds in northern Alberta.” Its notification responds to a four-year-old complaint by Environmental Defence, the US-based Natural Resources Defense Council, and three Canadian citizens. Media report that Canada is lobbying the Commission—made up of the federal Canadian Environment Minister, the head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and Mexico’s secretary of the environment--to dismiss the recommendation. Canada and Mexico previously voted to block a CEC recommendation that Canada be investigated for failing to enforce its Species At Risk Act. (Visit source)

  54. The world's major economies are falling further behind the reductions in greenhouse gas emissions that are needed to keep the planetary temperature within 2°C of its pre-industrial average, a leading research and accounting firm reports. The world’s governments have set a goal of capping warming at 2°C in the belief that anything more will trigger dangerous climate disruption. However, “the gap between what we are achieving and what we need to do is growing wider every year," said a spokesman for Pricewaterhouse Cooper, which compiled the study. "Current pledges really put us on track for 3 degrees [of warming].” A more positive sign is that emerging economies including China, India and Mexico have reduced their economy’s carbon ‘intensity’ (how much carbon is emitted for every dollar of value produced) faster than the United States, Japan or the European Union. (Visit source)

  55. The degradation of 800,000 hectares of boreal forest for oil and gas exploitation in northern Alberta, increasingly large forest fires and old-growth logging elsewhere in Canada, make this country the world leader in degrading intact forest landscapes. According to the World Resources Institute, Greenpeace and other groups, the Amazon had the second-worst record of forest degradation, followed by Russian Siberia and the Congo River basin. (Visit source)

  56. A thirty-minute supper-time hailstorm does $300 million in damage to vehicles and buildings, becoming Canada's second-costliest storm to date. (Visit source)

  57. The federal government announces a moratorium in fishing for Atlantic cod in an effort to forestall collapsing numbers of the once-abundant species. The moratorium puts an end to a 400-year-old mainstay of Newfoundland's economy. It fails to halt the collapse in cod stocks, which by 2014 still have not recovered, 22 years later. (Visit source)

  58. Researchers calculate that British Columbia earns $2.75 billion a year (updated to 2014 dollars) from the non-lumber value of its forests and other natural landscapes. The value comes mainly from outdoor recreation, but also from wildlife viewing and recreational fishing and hunting. (Visit source)

  59. Flooding in Quebec's Saguenay region forces 12,000 people to flee their homes and leaves 10 people dead. Damage makes the flooding Canada's first billion-dollar disaster. (Visit source)

  60. A series of moisture laden 'Pineapple Express' storm systems lash southern Vancouver Island and the lower B.C. mainland, dropping a meter of snow on Victoria. The storms strand scores of motorists on B.C. highways and at one point leave 150,000 homes without power. (Visit source)

  61. Heavy snowfall followed by warm temperatures releases near-record amounts of spring runoff water into the Red River in the United States and Canada. Manitoba suffers over US$500 million in damages, although its 30-year-old diversionary floodwater ‘spillway’—operating at full capacity—saves downtown Winnipeg from the disastrous flooding that inflicts $3 billion in damage on upstream cities like Grand Forks, ND. (Visit source)

  62. Hail, rain, and winds of over 100 km/h, rip through British Columbia's Okanagan Valley, destroying nearly 40 per cent of the valley's fruit crop. The rain and hail also cause power outages and traffic accidents while the wind capsizes boats on Lake Okanagan. (Visit source)

  63. Days of freezing rain, wind and snow across Ontario and Quebec topple 130 power transmission towers, throwing four million people into the dark and contributing to three dozen deaths. Power outages last between a few days and four weeks. Damage is estimated at $3 billion. (Visit source)

  64. A series of storms over two weeks drops 118.4 cm of snow across southern Ontario. Toronto receives more than a year's worth of white stuff, in its snowiest two weeks since 1846, prompting Mayor Mel Lastman to call in the military to help clear it all away at a cost of $70 million. Across Ontario, the storm is blamed for 11 deaths. (Visit source)

  65. A winter storm blasts Atlantic Canada with blizzard snow, rain, and hurricane-force winds, damaging wharves, knocking a lighthouse off its foundation, relocating seaside cottages, and driving a storm surge of sea water into the streets of downtown Charlottetown, PEI. (Visit source)

  66. Southern Alberta suffers its worst drought since 1918--even drier than the 'Dust Bowl' 1930s--as barely a quarter of its normal rainfall arrives between May and August, 2000. The following year is not much better, and before normal rain returns in mid-2002, Alberta, B.C. and Saskatchewan lose 40,000 jobs and suffer what some estimate to be the most expensive natural disaster in Canadian history to this date. (Visit source)

  67. Unobservant and poorly trained public utility employees fail to notice a surge in pathogens entering a small Ontario town's water supply from local farms' field runoff. Before the contamination is detected and corrected, seven people die and 2,500 must be treated for gastro-intestinal infections. (Visit source)

  68. The worst drought in a century on the west coast, and interior temperatures that reached 40°C, set the stage for forest fires to rage over 2,650 sq. km of woodland--11 times the average of the previous decade--sparking British Columbia's longest province-wide state of emergency. In late August, after 44 rainless days in a row, a lightning strike ignites a fire south of Kelowna. Over the following week it destroys 250 homes, forcing a third of the city to be evacuated. (Visit source)

  69. The longest Atlantic hurricane season in 50 years spawns 16 named storms. On Sept. 29, Hurricane Juan, a Category 2 storm, strikes Halifax with sustained winds of 158 kmh. The first hurricane to hit the Nova Scotia capital in over a century topples an estimated 100 million trees, damaging countless homes, throwing thousands into the dark, and contributing to eight deaths across the Maritimes. The 19-floor Canadian Hurricane Centre in Dartmouth is evacuated. (Visit source)

  70. A study in four Canadian provinces identifies “hundreds of millions, if not billions of dollars” in annual costs for everything from flood control to respiratory health care, that Canadians are saved every year by natural landscapes such as wetlands, forests and natural stream-banks. The study by environmental economist Nancy Olewiler finds that wetlands and forests in the lower Fraser River valley of British Columbia generate services worth at least $231.7 million a year and possibly as much as $973 million. Natural areas in agricultural regions of Manitoba, southern Ontario, and Prince Edward Island, deliver eco-services—largely water purification—worth from $70 to $342 a hectare. In several areas, that exceeds the land’s lease value for farming. (Visit source)

  71. A violent summer wind and rain storm across southern Ontario does $400 million in provisionally estimated damage in just a few hours, making it the province's most costly storm to date. (Visit source)

  72. Commissioned by the British government, economist Nicholas Stern, chair of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, at the London School of Economics, reports that on the present course, the impacts of a disrupted climate on water resources, food production, health, and ecosystems will cost humanity at least five per cent of global gross domestic product (GDP) each year—forever. His conclusion implies a global economic loss of $4.25 trillion in 2012; $91 billion for Canada. It describes unmitigated climate change as the greatest and widest-ranging market failure ever seen in the global economy. Stern later estimates the annualized cost of stabilizing climate-heating atmospheric carbon at between 500 and 550 ppm CO2e (well above what many scientists believe is necessary to limit climate disruption) at about two per cent of world GDP. (Visit source)

  73. Starting with a tempest dubbed the “Hanukkah Eve Storm,” BC is battered by a series of wind and rain storms that generate 17,000 damage claims in the lower BC mainland, Vancouver Island and Gulf Islands. Winds of over 100 km/h topple thousands of trees in Vancouver's Stanley Park. The $135 million in claimed damage is ranked as the province’s worst weather-related disaster loss since fires swept the interior in 2003. (Visit source)

  74. A line of violent storms across southern Alberta drops heavy rain, snarling traffic at 300 flooded Calgary intersections and sending at least four people to hospital after they are struck by or were near lightning strikes. (Visit source)

  75. Canada’s first recorded F5 tornado touches down at 6:25 p.m. near the community of Elie, Man., with winds estimated at over 500 km/h. Despite tearing a 300m-wide track over 5.5 km, the tornado’s half-hour rampage takes no lives, although it rips bark off trees and moves an entire house off its foundations. (Visit source)

  76. Toronto’s greenbelt, which stretches around the west end of Lake Ontario and north along the Niagara escarpment to Lake Huron, is worth $2.7 billion a year to residents. Valued ecosystem services include farmland, recreational areas, water collection, and air-quality improvement, as well as carbon storage. (Visit source)

  77. Polluted air cost the Canadian economy $8 billion in 2008, the Canadian Medical Association will later estimate. The Association forecasts the accumulated costs will reach a quarter of a trillion dollars by 2031. (Visit source)

  78. A series of "Pineapple Express" moisture-laden storms strike the British Columbia coast, dropping 71 cm of snow between Christmas and New Year's Day, snarling holiday travel. (Visit source)

  79. Severe storms over three days dump torrential rains on the Ottawa and Hamilton regions. The storms cause power outages, felled trees, damaged roofs, snarled traffic and widespread sewer backups, producing damage claims that generate $196 million in insurance payouts. (Visit source)

  80. A storm wielding 100 km/h-plus winds and baseball sized hailstones races across southern Alberta at speeds of up to 90 kph, uprooting trees, damaging homes and cars and taking at least two lives. A flying piece of sheet metal kills a three-year-old girl in downtown Calgary. A woman is killed and dozens are injured when a stage collapses at a music festival in Camrose. (Visit source)

  81. The largest tornado outbreak on the Canadian record strikes southern Ontario, as 19 recorded twisters rake the region from near Sarnia to east of Toronto. One supercell south of Barrie produces a cluster of four tornadoes all by itself. A boy dies when a workshed collapses near Owen Sound. (Visit source)

  82. Ecological economists Sarah Wilson and Mark Anielski calculate that the "non-market" ecological goods and services (e.g., carbon storage, water filtration, water supply) provided by nature in the 1.7 million sq. km. Mackenzie River watershed are worth $571 billion per year—more than 13 times the region’s official GDP of $42 billion per year. (Visit source)

  83. Four-centimeter-wide hailstones batter cars and glazing in Calgary, doing a half billion dollars in damage in a few minutes. Auto body repair shops report later that they are wait-listed into the following year, and Insurance Bureau of Canada vice-president Doug Noble observes: "There is no doubt that we are seeing more and more the impact of severe weather in Alberta." (Visit source)

  84. By the time it struck Newfoundand, Hurricane Igor was past its prime. It still struck the island with hurricane-force winds, flooding roads, sweeping away houses and washing out roads. (Visit source)

  85. A study by the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) released in 2014 will find that nearly 7,500 Canadians died in 2010 from the health effects of ambient air pollution. Their deaths cost the economy more than US$27 billion (CAD $30 billion) in 2014 in lost productivity. (Visit source)

  86. A forest fire levels most of Slave Lake, Alberta, becoming the second-most costly natural disaster in history for Canada's insurers to that date, with preliminary damage estimates above $700 million. (Visit source)

  87. A tornado rips through Goderich, Ontario, on a summer afternoon, killing one person and destroying businesses and homes. (Visit source)

  88. High winds, rain and hail thrash downtown Calgary. Claims for property damage will reach $552 billion—nearly half the property-damage insurance payouts for all of Canada that year. (Visit source)

  89. Hurricane Irene is downgraded to a tropical storm before reaching Canada but still manages to leave tens of thousands of people in the dark as powerful winds and heavy rain disrupt Quebec and the Maritimes. (Visit source)

  90. Strong winds blow out the windows of office towers, tear shingles from roofs and flip at least one transport truck onto its side as late-November windstorms sweep southern Alberta.

  91. Seven Canadian weather catastrophes—up from five the year before—produce an estimated $1.58 billion in insurance payouts in 2011. Alberta has been hardest hit by property damage in the past 36 months, accounting for almost two-thirds of all Canadian insured losses to natural disasters. (Visit source)

  92. An unseasonable March warm spell brings apple and other fruit trees in southern Ontario into premature bloom five weeks early. An April frost destroys 80 per cent of the province's apple blossoms--and subsequent harvest value. (Visit source)

  93. A comparison of the world’s greenhouse gas ‘budget’ to stabilize the climate, and Canada’s oil, coal and gas reserves, finds that nearly 90% of those may need to remain buried. The study compared estimates of how much additional carbon can be released into the atmosphere without triggering dangerous climate upheaval, with the carbon contents of Canadian fossil fuel deposits. It finds that proven reserves represent at least ten times Canada’s ‘fair’ share of the world’s remaining carbon budget, if that is based on share of world GDP; 38 times our share on a per-capita basis. If the world instituted a $50/ton carbon price, the study found, 114 listed Canadian fossil energy companies would face liabilities of $844 billion, “more than two and a half times the market capitalization and nearly double the assets of those companies.” (Visit source)

  94. Heavy rains swell the Bow River, flooding much of downtown Calgary including its famous Stampede grounds. Insurers later call the floods the costliest single weather disaster to date in Canada, incurring $4.8 billion in economic losses. The direct cost of clean-up came to $1.9 billion. Most of that was ultimately paid by the federal government, since no Canadian insurer offers so-called “overland” flood insurance (different from insurance against sewer backups). Insurers blame the lack of coverage on their inability to estimate their loss risk from outdated or missing federal government flood-risk maps. (Visit source)

  95. Barely two weeks after floods ravage downtown Calgary, heavy rain overwhelms storm drains in Canada’s biggest city, leaving thousands without power and idling public and private transportation. Insured property damage will be estimated at $850 million—making it Ontario’s most expensive storm to that date. (Visit source)

  96. Ice storms sweep across southern Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes. The storm grounds hundreds of holiday flights and plunges tens of thousands of households into the dark, without heat or electricity, over the following days. Clean-up was expected to cost the city of Metro Toronto alone some $106 million. Insured losses are estimated at more than $200 million. (Visit source)

  97. Canada’s cities face at least $88 billion in overdue investment to bring water supply and waste-water treatment infrastructure up to requirements. A report sponsored by Canada’s largest bank, among others, recommends that ‘green infrastructure’—incorporating natural features and landscapes into water management—can save money and multiply benefits. (Visit source)

  98. The Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) announces that extreme weather events in 2013, from Calgary's floods to a late-in-the-year ice storm that paralyzed Toronto, forced insurers to pay out a record $3.2 billion in claims. "Canadian communities are seeing more severe weather, especially more intense rainfall. This overburdens our sewer and stormwater infrastructure, resulting in more sewer backups in homes and businesses,” says Don Forgeron, Chief Executive of the IBC. (Visit source)

  99. Economists Lord Nicholas Stern and Norman Dietz try to calculate the ‘value’ of preventing a ton of carbon from being released into the atmosphere, based on the damage it will do if global temperatures rise more than 2oC above pre-industrial levels (as is likely on the current trend). They come up with a range of $US32-$US103 today, and $US82-$US260 in 2035. If such a value had been placed as a price on carbon emissions in 2013, the world’s emitters would have had to pay between $115 billion and $371 billion. (Visit source)

  100. A study of Manitoba’s boreal forest estimates the value of its locked-in carbon at $117 billion. The report, by Ducks Unlimited and the Boreal Songbird Initiative, details a wide variety of other ecological values that the province’s 570,000 km2 of boreal forest—an expanse larger than Spain or Sweden--provide. The boreal region contains some of the last intact ranges for such threatened species as woodland caribou and many migratory forest songbirds. (Visit source)

  101. American environmental economist Robert Costanza and his research team estimate that the Earth's living and biophysical natural systems supplied global humanity with US $125 trillion in economic value in 2011. Natural services from cropland soils to photosynthesis contributed economic values of nearly one and a half times the global GDP that year, $84 trillon. (Visit source)

  102. A study by Toronto Dominion Bank economists calculates the value of the Ontario capital’s many mature trees at roughly $7 billion, or $700 per tree. The urban forest delivers over $80 million in environmental benefits and avoided costs each year—from energy-saving shade to the removal of air pollution. The benefits are worth about $125 year to each Toronto family, and return between $1.35 and $3.20 for every dollar spent on tree maintenance. (Visit source)

  103. The World Bank finds that tackling climate change would boost the world's gross economic product by $2.6 trillion by 2030. It finds that even if only the United States, China, Brazil, India, Mexico and the European Union instituted new policies aimed at cutting emissions, world GDP would rise 1.5 percent more than on its current track. "This report removes another false barrier, another false argument, not to take action against climate change," said World Bank President Jim Kim. (Visit source)

  104. A bipartisan, independent study group in the United States warns that the US economy faces potentially hundreds of billions of dollars in damage from unchecked climate change in the coming decades. Sea-level rise alone puts more than US$700 billion in coastal property at risk, the ‘Risky Business’ report says: “On our current climate path, some homes and commercial properties with 30-year mortgages in places in Virginia, North Carolina, New Jersey, Alabama, Florida, and Louisiana and elsewhere could quite literally be underwater before the note is paid off." Key crops like corn, soybeans and cotton, are likely to see harvests contract by 10 to 20 per cent as early as during the present decade. (Visit source)

  105. A study by Toronto’s Mowat Centre projects that falling water levels in the Great Lakes, as a result of climate change, will cost the region $9.6 billion by 2030 and nearly twice that by mid-century. Residential waterfront property in Ontario will lose $794 million in value by 2030. (Visit source)

  106. Researchers find that “corrosive” sea water (shared with Canada) threatens Alaska’s $6 billion fisheries. Ocean water generally is becoming more acidic as it absorbs roughly a quarter of human carbon dioxide emissions. Acid weakens or completely dissolves the shells that protect many marine animals, from tiny plankton-size shrimp to oysters and lobsters. In media reports on the study, Jay Inslee, Governor of Washington, which shares British Columbia’s southern ocean border, says that acidifying seawater also imperils that state’s $270 million shellfish industry. (Visit source)

  107. A report by the US Executive Branch concludes that the cost of action to mitigate (delay or reduce) climate change will rise by 40% for every decade it is postponed. “Although delaying action can reduce costs in the short run, on net, delaying action to limit the effects of climate change is costly,” the White House authors conclude. This is so for two reasons: first, delay allows more CO2 to accumulate in the atmosphere, creating more damaging weather disruptions; secondly, delay raises the cost of later action to achieve a desired greenhouse gas concentration. The report also estimates that for every degree Celsius the planet warms past 2°C above pre-industrial levels—a likely event if global responses remain on their current track—impacts would create an annual drain of $150 billion on the world economy. (Visit source)

  108. Environmental economists place a value of between US $69.2 billion and US $496.4 billion ($550 billion CAD) on services provided by the Colorado River and its watershed. The non-profit Tacoma, WA-based Earth Economics aggregated the dollar value of 11 ecosystem services such as water supply, air quality, reduced flood risk, wildlife habitat, recreation and a category called “aesthetic information.” Its report added: “This is likely an underestimate, since many services lacked valuation data.” (Visit source)

  109. A study by the market-oriented International Monetary Fund finds that a ‘carbon price’ of about $30 a ton of CO2 would boost Canada’s economy. The study finds that a carbon tax designed, like the one in place in British Columbia since 2008, to be ‘recycled’ through reductions in other taxes, could generate a boost to the national economy of close to 0.8 per cent of GDP (roughly as much as the economy grew in the first three months of 2014). The global study found that an average carbon price of $57.5 per ton of CO2, enacted at “efficient” levels in the top 20 greenhouse gas emitters, would deliver benefits worth 4 per cent of their combined GDP. (Visit source)

  110. Investors representing financial assets worth more than a quarter of the entire world’s economic product (2012), urge national leaders to take stronger action to limit climate disruption. The statement by more than 340 institutional investors, managing funds worth $24 trillion from around the globe, estimate that annual investment in clean, low-carbon technology needs to quadruple to hold global warming below 2°C, and called on governments to enact supportive legislation to accomplish that goal. (Visit source)

  111. Regulations begin to be put into effect under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA), passed the previous year in 1988. CEPA centralized and strengthened environmental protections that had previous been scattered among a variety of laws. It replaced the Clean Air Act of 1971, the Ocean Dumping Control Act of 1973, and the Environmental Contaminants Act of 1976, and captured some aquatic nutrient control provisions that had formerly been in the Canada Water Act. (Visit source)

  112. The federal Auditor General reports that compliance to environmental regulations has suffered "a serious deterioration" since the (then) Department of Environment turned enforcement of federal rules over to provincial governments. Compliance on limiting toxic effluent from mining fell from 85 per cent in 1982 to 48 per cent in 1988. Nine out of 20 non-compliant mines in 1988 were releasing at least three times their permitted amounts of pollution. The Auditor-General also found that the Department evaluated fewer than ten per cent of its programs, and found serious problems with those.

  113. The Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME) releases a plan to reduce ground level ozone (nitrogen oxide and volatile organic compounds) in Canadian urban centers to a maximum of 82 ppb by 2005. The plan sets Canada-Wide Standards for air pollution and represents a significant success in intergovernmental cooperation in reducing air pollution. (Visit source)

  114. The federal government tables a ‘Green Plan’ for Canada, its response to the 1987 Brundtland Commission’s report on sustainable development, Our Common Future. The $3 billion plan sets ambitious goals to transform decision-making across the entire federal government to view economic development and environmental stewardship as “mutually supportive, rather than mutually exclusive.” These priorities will change with a change in government three years later, and most of the Green Plan’s budget will be redirected to other purposes.

  115. Canada’s new Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development reports to Parliament on how effectively the Department of the Environment is working with provinces to protect Canadians’ natural security. The report notes that roles between the two levels of government must be negotiated, because the constitutional division of powers crafted in 1867 does not address the environment. It finds the federal government has not clarified with the provinces their respective responsibilities for enforcing federal laws, nor the environmental goals to be achieved. Enforcement priorities are not clearly defined, monitored or evaluated. Although a 1987 Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement committed Canada to implement plans to remediate identified pollution ‘hot spots’ on the lakes, the plans developed lack measurable goals or deadlines that could be used to hold managers accountable.

  116. A Provincial Court decision in 'R. v. Bata Industries Ltd.,' a footwear manufacturer, confirms that directors and officers of corporations in Canada bear a personal responsibility to ensure that their company obeys environmental laws. The company and three directors were charged under Ontario law with “failing to take all reasonable care to prevent the corporation from causing or permitting” an “unlawful discharge” of chemical wastes from its factory site in Batawa, Ont.. Two of the directors are found guilty and fined $12,000 each; their fines are reduced on $6,000 on appeal. The case demonstrates that company officers may be held personally responsible for its actions that damage the environment. -- R v. Bata Industries Ltd. 1992 (Visit source)

  117. The Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (1992) is passed. It requires federal departments, agencies and Crown Corporations to conduct environmental assessments of projects involving federal funding, permits or licensing. Those assessments must consider how the proposed project may affect environmental values protected under laws like the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, the Fisheries Act and Navigable Waters Protection Act. It will be the subject of numerous contests in court over the next two decades, before being repealed and replaced in 2012. The later Act will sharply limit both the scope and process terms of this original version. (Visit source)

  118. A Transportation of Dangerous Goods Act (1992) receives Royal Assent. It establishes a system of product classification, documentation, labelling, vehicle placarding, and reporting on the transport of “dangerous goods”. Those include explosives, corrosives, compressed gases, combustible liquids and solids, toxic, radioactive or infectious materials, and other products identified in regulation. The Act requires shippers to establish Emergency Response Plans, and have them approved by the Minister of Transport or their designate, before offering such goods for transport. Its coverage applies to all modes of interprovincial and international transportation, as well as to all those involved in manufacturing, packaging or shipping dangerous goods. It carries a maximum penalty of $100,000 or two years’ imprisonment. (Visit source)

  119. Canada's world-leading centre for freshwater science and policy, the Inland Waters Directorate, is renamed the Ecosystems Directorate. Over the following months its functions are dispersed through several reorganizations. Its largest units, the Canadian Water Survey, and research bases in Burlington and Saskatoon still exist in 2014, albeit reduced in size. The Inland Waters Directorate's water policy capacity is lost.

  120. Canada's federal, provincial and territorial Ministers of Environment, Parks and Wildlife sign a 'Statement of Commitment to Complete Canada's Network of Protected Areas.’ The governments undertake to designate for protection representative examples of terrestrial ecosystems by 2000, and accelerate designation of marine ecosystems.

  121. Senior Environment Canada officials review two years of Green Plan implementation, but the exercise ends by redefining the Department's mission away from enforcement.  “At Environment Canada," the final document reads, "we want to see a Canada where people make responsible decisions about the environment, and where the environment is thereby sustained.” Internal communications describe the new federal strategy as one of "steering" and leaving the provinces to do the "rowing."

  122. Ottawa and the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment agree to "harmonize" federal and provincial legislation and enforcement efforts to align standards and reduce duplicated effort. The agreement bears fruit five years later, in 1998. (Visit source)

  123. The Auditor General reports to Parliament on the government’s performance on the cleanup and control of freshwater pollution. The report finds that Ottawa is implementing action plans to improve water quality in the Great Lakes, B.C.’s Fraser River, and the Atlantic coast—but lacks metrics to know whether they are making headway. Plans for the Great Lakes and Fraser R. are “producing some positive results.” But lacking is “a federal framework of desirable water quality objectives for the major ecosystems across Canada,” to provide objectives for regional plans to work toward and provide the public with some assurance that they are achieving their objectives. “The federal government needs to know where it is going and how it is going to get there if it is to use its limited resources efficiently and effectively,” the Auditor General observes.

  124. The Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (1995) comes into force. Its key purpose is to carefully consider the long-term environmental consequences of a development proposal before deciding whether or how it should proceed. The Act requires that project impacts be examined in the light of other federal laws that protected species at risk, fisheries, migratory birds and protected areas. It acknowledges treaty and aboriginal rights and provides a mechanism for aboriginal consultation. The Act is repealed in 2012 and replaced by the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012. (Visit source)

  125. The federal government’s deficit-slashing 1995 budget, following a review of all government programs, cuts $256 million over three years from Environment Canada’s budget, a little more than one-third of its 1994 appropriation of $737 million. (Visit source)

  126. The federal government introduces ‘A Guide to Green Government’. It requires every federal department to develop a sustainability plan, and to present it to Parliament by 1997. The government also creates an office of Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development, within the Auditor-General’s office, to audit the progress departments are making toward their sustainability goals, and how the government in general is meeting its mandates under various environmental laws.

  127. The federal government lets cooperation agreements with three provinces to map flood zones expire. When the Flood Damage Prevention Program, which dated to 1975 and helped cities identify areas vulnerable to flooding, is entirely wound down in 2000, the federal government's only role in flood response will be as a last-resort provider of disaster assistance. (Visit source)

  128. The Council of Canadian Ministers of the Environment (CCME) form a working group to develop a Canada-wide Strategy for the treatment and release of municipal wastewater. The strategy will be announced 14 years later, in 2009, and sets targets to be achieved in some cases as late as 2039.

  129. Canada’s government is unaware of the full risk of dump sites on federal land harbouring threats from radioactive material to unexploded bombs. The new independent Commissioner of the Environment reports that the federal government does not have a complete picture of the environmental or financial liabilities arising from sites containing everything from unexploded military ordnance to petroleum products to radioactive waste. The Commissioner warns that with a few exceptions, the government has too little information about most contaminated sites to adequately assess their risks to human health or safety and the environment, or to estimate the cost and duration of remediation efforts. Based on the current progress (on timetables that the Commissioner found “overly optimistic”) it could take at least another decade to fully list, assess and clean up all contaminated sites.

  130. The Oceans Act receives Royal Assent and becomes law, establishing a 200 nautical mile "exclusive economic zone" beyond Canada's shoreline, as permitted by Canada's membership in the Convention on the Law of the Sea. The legislation also asserts Canada's right to the living and non-living resources of the continental shelf, which may extend beyond that exclusive zone. (Canada had unilaterally asserted a less inclusive, 200-nautical-mile fishing zone in 1977.) The Act requires the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans to: co-ordinate federal agencies concerned with protecting the ocean environment; lead the implementing of a national strategy to manage Canada’s marine waters; find ways to integrate the management of all private and public activities in estuaries, coastal and marine waters; and propose to Cabinet standards for marine environmental quality. It also creates a system of marine-protected areas (MPAs), “to protect and conserve important fish and marine mammal habitats, endangered marine species, unique features and areas of high biological productivity or biodiversity.” (Visit source)

  131. Hydro Quebec was charged under the 1988 Canadian Environmental Protection Act with releasing toxic polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) into a Quebec waterway. The provincial Crown-owned utility challenged the federal government’s constitutional jurisdiction in laying the charge. The Supreme Court of Canada confirms that Ottawa’s criminal law powers apply to environmental protection, as “a public purpose of superordinate importance.” The decision confirms that Ottawa can use its criminal law powers to enact nation-wide environmental protections. (Visit source)

  132. The Canada-Wide Accord on Environmental Harmonization takes effect. Its first three "principles" assert the "Polluter-Pay" and "Precautionary" principles, and the importance of preventing pollution from happening. After five years of negotiation, however, the Agreement's specific terms are put off still further for future sub-agreements. Ottawa and the provinces also undertake to develop a "one-window" approach for industries seeking federal and provincial environmental approvals, including combined environmental impact assessments. (Visit source)

  133. An overhaul strengthens and expands the 1988 Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA). CEPA (1999) requires all new chemicals brought to market to be evaluated for human health and environmental risks before they can be manufactured or imported into Canada; the responsibility is shared between Environment Canada and Health Canada. It also requires a systematic screening of 23,000 substances already in use in Canada. An initial screening is completed in 2006, but the schedule for giving 4,300 compounds of more concern a second look stretches to 2020. In 2012, a panel of experts will review how chemicals are assessed, and find that “toxicity data are lacking for 87 percent of chemicals on the market.” (Visit source)

  134. The Commissioner of the Environment reports that a ten-year-old federal provincial plan has failed to contain ground-level ozone smog (nitrogen oxide and volatile organic compounds). The report finds that the federal government did most of what it had promised to do, but that provincial “good intentions [were] never implemented as originally envisioned.” The Commissioner notes that the federal government’s duty to protect the public from environmental risk carries an obligation to establish cooperation agreements with provinces and territories that will achieve their desired results. (Visit source)

  135. Heavy spring rain rinsed animal manure from a pasture into a shallow well that served the 4,800 residents of the Ontario farm town of Walkerton. Municipal water system operators failed to notice a telltale downtick in chlorine levels and contaminated water flowed through the town’s mains for weeks, infecting half its residents with gastroenteritis and sending sixty-five to hospital. Twenty-seven people suffered acute kidney damage. Seven died. (Visit source)

  136. The Auditor-General, in a report, finds: "Developing the 1990 NOx/VOC [nitrogen oxide and volatile organic compounds] Management Plan represented a major achievement by the federal, provincial and territorial governments and provided sound strategic direction. We found that the federal government did most of what it had promised to do under Phase 1 of the 1990 Plan; however, more needs to be done to heighten public awareness. Even though the federal government expected that its contribution to reducing emissions would be modest, the 1990 Plan represented good intentions and the aspects that were completed should make a contribution to Canada's air quality. But the Plan was never implemented as originally envisioned, and this has created an "implementation gap" between strategic planning and the efforts required of the partners to achieve the goal. Canada's smog problem is far from being resolved." (Visit source)

  137. Canada has had national parks since 1885, and a National Parks Act since 1930. That act is updated with a variety of measures to streamline the process for creating or enlarging parks; restrict commercial development in communities located in parks; and improve protection for wildlife and other resources in national parks. At the same time, seven new national parks are created, including Gros Morne in Newfoundland, and the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve is created in British Columbia.

  138. Implementing an international convention, the Marine Liability Act makes a ship’s owner responsible for the costs of cleaning up or remedying damage from an oil spill. It also prohibits a ship carrying more than 2,000 metric tons of oil (that is, ships carrying oil as a cargo rather than a fuel), from entering or leaving a Canadian port without a certificate showing that it holds “a contract of insurance or other security” against clean-up costs, satisfying the requirements of the 1992 international Convention on Civil Liability for Oil Pollution. Ships registered in Canada may not enter or leave a foreign port without such a certificate either. The convention limits shipowners’ liability to about $80 million. (By comparison, at least $7 billion has been spent partially cleaning up oil spilled in 1989 from the Exxon Valdez across 1,300 miles of Alaska shoreline.) (Visit source)

  139. An updated Canada Shipping Act includes several measures designed to reduce pollutions risks. The Act empowers the federal cabinet, on the recommendation of the Minister of Transport, to prohibit the discharge of specified pollutants from ships. It also grants enforcement officers the power to compel ship owners or crews to take whatever action is required to minimize or prevent pollution. Officers have the power to board any Canadian vessels, and in some cases foreign vessels, to ensure they are complying with the Act. It also requires certain vessels to have in-place emergency response or oil pollution prevention plans. Penalties for ordinary violations can rise to C$1 million and/or 18 months’ imprisonment. If evidence shows that intentional or reckless acts caused environmental disasters, or a risk of death or harm to humans, fines are unlimited and a prison sentence may reach five years. (Visit source)

  140. The National Marine Conservation Areas Act receives Royal Assent. It gives the federal government authority similar to the National Parks Act, to protect designated areas “from such activities as ocean dumping, undersea mining, and oil and gas exploration and development,” and to “protect depleted, vulnerable, threatened or endangered marine species and their habitats,” among other goals. Together with the system of Marine Protected Areas establish under the 1996 Oceans Act, and creation of a stand-alone Parks Canada Agency in 1998, the government says it has created “a coherent body of legislation…to preserve and protect the national integrity of natural heritage sites.” (Visit source)

  141. Metal Mining Effluent Regulations (MMER) come into force under the federal Fisheries Act. The regulations require mines to limit the concentrations of certain toxic chemicals in their wastes, and to prevent the release of any effluent acutely lethal to fish. However, they also give the government the right to re-designate a natural lake as a tailings dump, thus allowing lethal waste to be disposed of there. (Visit source)

  142. A revised Pest Control Products Act incorporates a number of measures to implement a more precautionary approach to setting exposure standards, and better protect children. The Act prohibits the manufacture, distribution or use of an unregistered pest control product, or one that in any way endangers human health or the safety of the environment. Producers seeking to register a new pesticide must satisfy the Minister of Health that its value and its risks are both acceptable. Risk assessment must consider vulnerable groups such as children and seniors, and the effects of cumulative exposure over time. If new information reveals new risks, registered products must be re-evaluated. Information supporting a product registration must be available to the public, and the public must be consulted before significant registration decisions are made. Maximum penalties of C$1-million and/or three years’ imprisonment may be supplemented by an additional fine equal to three times whatever profit proceeded from committing the offence. (Visit source)

  143. The Commissioner on the Environment reports that the government is making “slow” progress re-evaluating older, widely used pesticides against contemporary health and environmental standards. Given that all the pesticides so far re-evaluated have either been pulled from the market or seen new restrictions placed on their use, and that others awaiting re-evaluation remain for sale, the Commissioner advises that, “it is likely that some of them do not meet today's standards.” The report also finds the government “has sometimes skipped steps in its [approval] process and has overused temporary registrations,” while missing deadlines to ensure that safer products are available. (Visit source)

  144. A study of 20 U.S. and Canadian cities around the Great Lakes by the environmental non-profit Sierra Legal, finds that they release close to 100 million cubic meters of raw sewage into the lakes every year. That's enough to fill Toronto’s Rogers Centre (formerly known as the SkyDome) to its retractable roof in sewage and empty it into Lake Ontario more than 62 times. (Visit source)

  145. The 2009 federal Budget Implementation Bill amends the Navigable Waters Protection Act to give the Minister of Transport authority, without public consultation or notice, to reduce the level of environmental protection for an individual river or lake or entire classes of waterways. The Bill also empowers that ministry to declare certain constructions, such as dams, booms, or causeways, in protected waterways to be “minor” and exempt from environmental impact review. (Visit source)

  146. The federal omnibus budget bill amends two sets of regulations to permit the exemption of several hundred individual construction projects and entire classes of other developments from federal environmental reviews. Amendments to the Exclusion List Regulation allow the federal cabinet to declare that as many as 2,000 individual projects, and all construction of roads or transit and waste- or drinking water systems, will have “insignificant environmental effects,” and so need not be reviewed under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (1995). Under other amendments to the Adaptation Regulation, projects which fail to qualify for that exclusion may be allowed to undergo a provincial—rather than federal—environmental review, which need not necessarily consider impacts on environmental values protected under the Constitution by federal laws and jurisdiction. (Visit source)

  147. The Council of Canadian Ministers of the Environment (CCME) announces a Canada-wide Strategy for the treatment and release of municipal wastewater. The strategy is described as a plan to reduce water pollution from municipal treated sewage waste releases and intentional or accidental releases of raw sewage. First announced in 1995, national standards to be met under the strategy will not appear until 2012, and some deadlines for meeting them will be put off until 2039. (Visit source)

  148. The Canadian Environmental Protection Act 1999 (CEPA) requires the Minister of the Environment to obtain an accounting from industry of the pollutants it releases to the environment, and to make that information public through the National Pollutants Release Inventory (NPRI). In 2007, the federal minister claimed a discretion to exempt from reporting the pollutants that mines release in tailings and waste rock disposal areas. An Ontario environmental alliance challenged that interpretation. The Federal Court upholds their challenge, and finds that the Minister did not have the power to exempt an industry from reporting pollution releases to the environment. -- Great Lakes United and MiningWatch Canada v. Minister of the Environment and Mining Association of Canada 2009. (Visit source)

  149. A new Environmental Enforcement Act (EEA) amends the penalties for pollution offences under nine other Acts, setting new minimum and increased maximum fines. Companion legislation creates an entirely new Act, the Environmental Violations Administrative Monetary Penalties Act, which creates a new category of penalty more punitive than a ticket but stopping short of a full-scale prosecution. The Acts come into force in December, 2010, but many regulations setting out specific penalties for various environmental offences under the EEA remain to be written. (Visit source)

  150. The Species at Risk Act (SARA) requires the federal government to implement plans to restore endangered species to healthy numbers, including protecting their critical habitat. After the Minister of Environment failed to identify any critical habitat for the endangered Greater Sage Grouse, wildlife groups took the Crown to court. The Federal Court held that the Minister could not put off protecting habitat until his staff received an unequivocal scientific judgment about its extent. Rather, “SARA stipulates that the respondent must make the determination of critical habitat based on the best available information, which is to say the best information that exists at any one point in time.” -- Alberta Wilderness Association and others v Minister of Environment 2009 (Visit source)

  151. Five months before a scheduled public review of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (1995), the omnibus federal budget bill makes a number of significant changes. One responds to a Supreme Court of Canada ruling that the federal Minister of Environment could not cherry-pick elements of a proposed project to submit to CEAA review in order to reduce the level of scrutiny it will receive; amendments provide explicit legislative authority for such limitations. Another change exempts numerous infrastructure projects that receive federal funding, such as roads and railway lines, from environmental review. Reviews of energy projects are reassigned from the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency to either the National Energy Board or the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission; both are centres of technical expertise in their respective sectors, but neither has previously been tasked to review projects in light of all of Canada’s federal statutes, as had the CEAA. (Visit source)

  152. A report from Canada’s biggest bank warns that a predicted seven to ten percent decline in the Athabasca River due to climate change, “may make flows insufficient to satisfy the needs of oil sands production, as well as other … agricultural, municipal and environmental users, including the biologically rich Peace-Athabasca Delta.” The report, by the Royal Bank’s Blue Economy Initiative, predicts that expanding oil sands operations in the region will increase annual water withdrawals for fossil energy recovery—the destination of 80 per cent of the water licensed to be removed from the river—by nearly 20 per cent, from 441 million cu. m. in 2010 to 529 million cu. m. in 2013, roughly 4.3 barrels of river water for every barrel of oil produced. (Visit source)

  153. Climate change is releasing long-dormant toxic organic pollutants in the Canadian Arctic. Environment Canada scientists report in a published paper that melting of Arctic sea ice retreat because of the region’s warming over the last two decades has re-release the persistent organic pollutants (POPs) previously contained in sea water, snow and ice, into the Arctic atmosphere. They note that the releases could undermine global efforts to reduce the pollutants’ threat to human health. (Visit source)

  154. The Commissioner of the Environment reports that Environment Canada is failing to enforce the 1999 Canadian Environmental Protection Act. He finds that the ministry doesn’t know whom it is supposed to regulate, or which entities pose the greatest threats, and so it cannot be sure it is targeting enforcement at the greatest risks to human health and the environment. Neither does Environment Canada know whether its enforcement efforts are improving compliance or reducing the threat of environmental damage. (Visit source)

  155. The 2002 Pest Control Products Act requires the Minister of Health to review the safety of an approved chemical if an applicant can show significant new evidence of its potential danger. Lawyers acting on behalf of a B.C. woman took the Minister to Federal Court for refusing to review an ingredient in the popular herbicide Roundup.They cited several studies showing that polyoxyethylene tallow amines (POEA) harm human embryonic and placental cells, and are associated with an elevated risk of miscarriage among humans and animals exposed to the product. Once in court, the applicant’s lawyers concede that their evidence is insufficient to show a “health risk” to humans or animals, and withdraw their application for a review of the pesticide’s approval. The Court upholds their remaining application however, that the Minister should have ordered a special review of POEA’s risk to amphibians in seasonal wetlands exposed to aerial spraying. -- Josette Wier v Minister of Health 2011 (Visit source)

  156. A review of federal environmental enforcement by Ecojustice Canada finds it is too weak to deter violations, and information about it too limited for the public to hold government accountable. Despite an increase in the number of enforcement officers since 2003, the actual number of inspections, investigations, charges and convictions under the Canadian Environmental Protection and Fisheries Acts has fallen. Although officers issue around 2000 warnings and do 5000 inspections under the Fisheries Act per year, these result in an average of only 20 prosecutions. Low fines do not discourage industrial violators whose potential revenues and profits from their violations far exceed those fines. Compliance rates are seldom made public, and little information is available about offenders or their violations. (Visit source)

  157. The Species At Risk Act (SARA) commits Canada to implement plans for the recovery of species identified by a special committee of experts as being at high risk. In 2001 the committee identified one group of west coast orca whales as facing "imminent" extirpation or extinction, putting them in the highest risk category of “endangered.” It determined that another group was in the second-most-serious category, as a “threatened” species “likely to become… endangered… if nothing is done to reverse the factors leading to its extirpation or extinction.” Both groups of whales face similar threats, including environmental contamination, declining stocks of prey food, and physical and acoustic disturbances in their customary ranges. However, when the federal Minister of Fisheries and Oceans released a SARA plan to protect the whales’ critical habitat, it committed only to protect geophysical features such as shorelines and seabeds against damage by activities like pile-driving, sea-bed trawl fishing and ships’ anchors, arguing that other attributes are up to the minister's discretion to protect under other legislation. Nine environmental groups took the Crown to court. The Federal Court of Appeal agrees that SARA obliges the minister to protect all the habitat elements critical to the survival of threatened and endangered species—including factors such food prey—and that the Minister of Fisheries acted “unlawfully” in substituting discretionary action under other legislation for such a plan. (The Court also remarks, in a discussion on costs, that Fisheries and Oceans had been “unjustifiably evasive and obstructive” in its conduct of the case.) -- Canada (Fisheries and Oceans) v David Suzuki Foundation 2012 (Visit source)

  158. The omnibus Jobs and Growth (budget) Act amends and renames the former Navigable Waters Protection Act as the Navigation Protection Act, dropping 99.9% of Canada's rivers and 99.7% of lakes larger than three square kilometres from its coverage. Shoreline owners on unprotected waterways are now free to install docks or other obstructions without notifying the federal government. The Minister of Transportation may no longer order such obstructions to be removed. On major waterways no longer covered under the new Act, it becomes the obligation of the public, municipalities or provinces to enforce the right of navigation, a federal Constitutional responsibility, by taking offenders to court. (Visit source)

  159. Key provisions of the 2009 Environmental Enforcement Act came into force, amending the sen­tencing and penalty provisions of a host of federal environmental legislation. Most notably, the new penalty provisions introduce mandatory mini­mum fines and dramatically increase maximum fines. The new provisions also provide for a doubling of the minimum and maximum penalties where a person is convicted of a subsequent similar offence an environmental act. Under the new regime, smaller corporations are subject to lower fines than large-revenue corporations. (Visit source)

  160. A new Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (2012) receives Royal Assent, replacing one enacted in 1992. The new CEAA-2012 mandates environmental, social and economic impact assessments for far fewer projects than its predecessor, and gives political ministers much greater discretion to decide what impacts are reviewed and by whom. It limits the ability of environmental groups to participate in review hearings. The legislation also fully transfers responsibility for the environmental assessment of pipeline projects to the National Energy Board, and of nuclear projects to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (previously these were delegated from the Canadian Environment Assessment Agency on a case-by-case basis) and allows the federal cabinet to overrule any negative recommendation that either may make. Related amendments to the Fisheries Act now require environmental reviews only when a project may impact a fish species considered important for commercial, recreation or First Nations cultural purposes. (Visit source)

  161. Federal Environment Minister Peter Kent, with the Council of Canadian Ministers of the Environment, announces new national regulations for the control of sewage effluent pollution. Enough untreated sewage enters Canada’s rivers, lakes and inshore oceans every year to fill 60,000 Olympic swimming pools. The new standards require that liquid waste not be “acutely lethal,” and be below upper concentration limits on four traditional indicators. However they do not address emerging concern over more exotic pollutants such as endocrine-disrupting compounds. Facilities with waste streams assessed as the most urgent must comply by 2020. Lesser violations need not be remediated until as late as 2040. The announcement includes plans to co-manage the enforcement of waste water standards with the provinces under agreements yet to be negotiated (on the date of the announcement none has yet been negotiated). (Visit source)

  162. The Commissioner of the Environment reviews Canada’s progress toward a 15-year-old commitment to complete a network of Marine Protected Areas. He finds that protected areas have been set aside in only two of 29 “representative” marine ecosystems, totalling only one-tenth of the area (10 per cent of Canada’s total marine extent) the government had announced in 2010 it would protect. (Visit source)

  163. Canada and the United States renew the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement first signed in 1972. It is the second time the agreement has been renewed. This update addresses the effects of climate change on the Great Lakes for the first time, but also includes fewer "hard targets" than earlier versions, leaving these for future negotiations. (Visit source)

  164. The Jobs and Growth Act—an omnibus budget bill—receives Royal Assent, renaming the former Navigable Waters Protection Act as the Navigation Protection Act, and withdrawing its protection from 99 percent of waterways previously included. It limits its scope to just 62 rivers and 97 of Canada's almost 32,000 lakes. (Visit source)

  165. Crude oil oozes to the surface in the first of a series of persistent leaks at Canadian Natural Resources Ltd's Primrose Lake in-situ bitumen extraction site, on the Canadian Forces Cold Lake Air Weapons Range. By August, 2013, the crude is spreading over the surface at the rate of about 20 barrels a day. By October, 2013, more than 11,000 barrels have come to the surface. (Visit source)

  166. Canada announces its intention to raise to $1 billion the limit on oil producers’ ‘no-fault’ liability for environmental damage from a blowout or oil spill off the East Coast or in the Arctic. ‘No-fault’ means a company would be liable for up to that amount even in the absence of any negligence or fault on its part; were those also present, liability could rise. The $1 billion cap would substantially raise the previous limit of $30 million in the Atlantic and $40 million in the Arctic, but falls far short of the $40 billion cost to date of cleaning up the oil spilled in the Gulf of Mexico during the 2010 blowout of a well belonging to BP. Remote geography and harsh conditions, experts say, would make a cleanup in Canada’s Arctic significantly more costly. (Visit source)

  167. Legislation receives Royal assent making Sable Island a National Park, but permitting Exxon-Mobil to retain rights to operate on the island, including drilling and hydro-fracking, under the oversight of the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board, an agency with an explicit mandate to promote offshore oil production. (Visit source)

  168. The federal Environment Commissioner finds “a significant risk” that the ecological integrity of Canada’s national parks will continue to decline. His report applauds Parks Canada for developing policies, directives, and guidelines to reverse an observed decline in the integrity of many of the ecosystems it oversees, but warns that “the Agency is challenged to meet many of its deadlines and targets.” Among other things, “key elements for a scientifically credible system for monitoring ecological integrity are either missing or only partly developed.” The Commissioner remarks on cuts to Parks Canada’s budget, adding that the agency “has not clarified how and by when, with significantly fewer resources, it will address the backlog of unfinished work, the emerging threats to ecological integrity, and the declines it has identified in the condition of many park ecosystems.” (Visit source)

  169. The Environment Commissioner reports that Environment Canada is not fulfilling its duty to monitor and plan for the protected areas it manages. There are 54 of these; Environment Canada has developed management plans for only 46, three-quarters of which were drafted before the Species At Risk Act came into force a decade ago. In 2011, the department rated 90 per cent of its own wildlife area management plans as inadequate. Additionally, the Commissioner found: “Environment Canada has made little progress in monitoring activities, conditions, and threats for the protected areas it manages. Without regular monitoring, the Department cannot track whether the ecological integrity in protected areas is changing, nor can it identify any new or potential threats to local species so that it can react in an appropriate and timely manner.” (Visit source)

  170. Environmental non-profit Ecojustice (formerly Sierra Legal) reports that Ontario municipalities dump billions of litres of untreated or partially treated sewage a year into the Great Lakes Basin. The Basin provides drinking water for millions, a home for more than 4,000 wildlife species. The group's 2013 Great Lakes Sewage Report Card analyzes 12 Ontario municipalities for their sewage treatment and grades them according to performance. (Visit source)

  171. Canada faces three oceans. A science review finds that they are “spiraling downward.” The oceans are absorbing anthropogenic carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. “Decreasing oxygen levels … caused by climate change and nitrogen run-off, combined with other chemical pollution and rampant overfishing are undermining the ability of the ocean to withstand these so-called ‘carbon perturbations’,” the International Union of Concerned Scientists (IUCN) panel finds. “The health of the ocean is spiraling downwards far more rapidly than we had thought. We are seeing greater change, happening faster, and the effects are more imminent than previously anticipated,” says Professor Alex Rogers, scientific director of International Program on the State of the Oceans, which also participated in the study. “The situation should be of the gravest concern to everyone.” (Visit source)

  172. A Federal Court in Newfoundland dismisses a challenge to the federal Mining Effluent Regulations which permit the Minister of Fisheries to reclassify certain water bodies as mine waste impoundments, and thereby exempt from certain protections of the Fisheries Act. The Court calls the environmental group that brought the suit “mistaken,” in asserting that Act’s paramount goal is conservation. “The fact that regulations enacted pursuant to the Act may have negative environmental consequences does not, per se, render those regulations invalid,” the decisions rules. — Sandy Pond Alliance to Protect Canadian Waters Inc. v. Canada 2013 (Visit source)

  173. Under the new Canadian Environmental Assessment Act 2012, only development projects designated by the Minister of Environment, or in a category listed in something called the ‘Regulations Designating Physical Activities’ (RDPA) require a federal impact review. Amendments to the latter list add some categories of project, and remove a larger number of categories. Bridges across the St, Lawrence Seaway are added, while new oil sands processing facilities are removed from the list requiring impact assessments. (Visit source)

  174. Environment Canada proposes new Metal Minings Effluent regulations to make it easier for mines that have converted natural lakes and rivers into tailings ponds, to expand these. Mines would be able to turn additional lakes and rivers into new tailings disposal areas without disclosing the conversion to the public in the Canada Gazette, as previously required. (Visit source)

  175. Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, soon to retire, introduces his last budget. The word "climate" appears four times in the 427-page text – paired on each occasion with the word "investment". (Visit source)

  176. Certain types of development are subject to screening under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA-2012). When that happens, regulations describe the information that a project proponent must provide to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency. Regulations setting these requirements out under the new 2012 version of the CEAA drop much of the information required under the former Act. They give the Agency 10 days to determine whether it has received the mandated information, then another 45 (including 20 in which the public may comment) to decide whether the project warrants an environmental assessment. (Visit source)

  177. Who has the right to “standing,” that is, the right to be heard, at tribunals considering major development projects, is contentious. Recent joint federal-provincial review panels considering the environmental impact of pipeline proposals, for example, have taken the view that few people other than those whose real property is directly affected by a project enjoy standing. A decision by B.C. Supreme Court Justice Brian MacKenzie moves in the other direction. He orders a provincial Environmental Appeal Board to reconsider its earlier exclusion of two environmental groups, SkeenaWild Conservation and Lakelse Watershed Stewards, and of residents from a somewhat distant second town, from hearings into whether a metal smelter at Kitimat should receive an operating permit without taking further measures to abate air pollution in the valley the two communities share. (Visit source)

  178. The government proposes to raise the amount that Canada's Ship-Source Oil Pollution Fund (maintained by levies on oil imports) will contribute towards liability for an oil tanker spill. The fund currently has a "liability cap" of $161 million per spill, but the proposed changes would make the entire fund (approximately $400 million) available for any spill. That amount is roughly 16 times the liability limit of just under US$24 million that the United States places on oil shippers. (Visit source)

  179. A study by the Organization for Economic Development (OECD) finds that nearly 7,500 Canadians died in 2010 from the health effects of ambient air pollution. Their deaths cost the economy more than $28 billion (2010) in lost productivity. (Visit source)

  180. Researchers find that “corrosive” sea water shared with Canada threatens Alaska’s $6 billion fishery. Ocean water generally is becoming more acidic as it absorbs roughly a quarter of human carbon dioxide emissions. Acid weakens or completely dissolves the shells that protect many marine animals, from tiny plankton-size shrimp to oysters and lobsters. In media reports on the study, Jay Inslee, Governor of Washington, which shares British Columbia’s southern ocean border, says that acidifying seawater also imperils that state’s $270 million shellfish industry. (Visit source)

  181. Canada creates a body to protect migratory wildfowl, from ducks to swans. Progressive Conservative Environment Minister Robert de Cotret establishes the North American Wetlands Conservation Council (Canada) to implement Canada’s part of a plan to preserve wetlands for migratory waterfowl, and take a leadership role in wetlands policy and awareness. The Council helps guide the Canadian Habitat and Species Joint Ventures, regional programs bringing NGOs, scientists and government together to design and accomplish policies to achieve the conservation goals of the North American Waterfowl Management Plan. It also helps coordinate, develop national wetland policies and programs. (Visit source)

  182. Parliament passes the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. It requires federal departments, agencies and Crown Corporations to assess projects involving federal funding, permits or licensing for their impact on the environment. The Act will be repealed in 2012 and replaced with a much watered-down version. (Visit source)

  183. Canada's federal, provincial and territorial Ministers of Environment, Parks and Wildlife sign a 'Statement of Commitment to Complete Canada's Networks of Protected Areas.’ The governments undertake to designate for protection representative examples of terrestrial ecosystems by 2000, and accelerate designation of marine ecosystems.

  184. The international Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), better known as the Biodiversity Convention, comes into force, with the three goals of protecting biological diversity; sustainable use of living resources; and fair and equitable sharing of the economic benefits of diverse biogenetics. The agreement covers all ecosystems as well as individual species, and embeds the Precautionary Principle, urging governments not to postpone remedial action to avert threats of significant biodiversity loss even absent full scientific certainty. (Visit source)

  185. Updating one of Canada’s few international commitments still in force that were originally negotiated between Great Britain and, in this case, the U.S., the Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994, protects individual migratory birds (including many familiar songbirds and forest birds as well as waterfowl) as well as their nests and supporting habitat. The Act and regulations prohibit most commercial trade in migratory birds, as well as disturbing their nests or eggs, introducing non-indigenous migratory bird species, and depositing oil or any other harmful substance in any area such birds frequent. They also creates several bird sanctuaries, and establish enforcement authority. In 2010, Syncrude will be convicted under this Act when hundreds of ducks die in an oil sands tailings pond. (Visit source)

  186. The Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (1995) comes into force. Its key purpose is to identify, consider and plan to avoid the long-term environmental consequences of a development proposal before it proceeds. The Act requires that project impacts be examined in the light of other federal laws that protect species at risk, fisheries, migratory birds and protected areas. It acknowledges treaty and aboriginal rights, and provides a mechanism for aboriginal consultation. The Act is repealed in 2012 and replaced by the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act 2012. (Visit source)

  187. Federal, provincial and territorial ministers responsible for wildlife agree on an “Accord for the Protection of Species at Risk.” Prompted by Canada's ratification of the Convention on Biological Diversity, the accord contains commitments to coordinated protective action under Canada’s division of constitutional powers over wildlife. The agreement undertakes to provide “effective protection” that “address[es] all native wild species.” In particular, it promises “immediate legal protection for threatened or endangered species,” with strategies to be developed within one year for endangered and two years for threatened species, and for the consideration of all at-risk species in environmental impact assessments. The job of implementing the Accord is assigned to a Canadian Endangered Species Conservation Council, created two years later, composed of the federal ministers of the Environment, Fisheries and Oceans, and Heritage, along with provincial and territorial ministers responsible for species protection in their jurisdictions. The Council last met in September, 2006. (Visit source)

  188. The Auditor General reviews Canada’s performance in meeting its commitments under the six-year-old Convention on Biological Diversity, and finds progress slower than projected; deadlines have been missed. Canada was the first industrialized country to ratify the Convention but has completed only two of eight ‘implementation modules’ in the Canadian Biodiversity Strategy. The two ‘completed’ modules lack time frames, identified resources, expected results, or performance indicators.

  189. An update of the National Parks Act elevates the preservation of the “ecological integrity” of protected areas to become “the first priority” in managing them. The amendments define ecological integrity to include “the composition and abundance of native species and biological communities,” as well as non-living features of protected areas. Later independent reviews will find however that the amendments produce no observable change in park management practices.

  190. Metal Mining Effluent Regulations (MMER) come into force under the federal Fisheries Act. The regulations require mines to limit the concentrations of certain toxic chemicals in their wastes, and to prevent the release of any effluent acutely lethal to fish. However, it also gives the government the right to re-designate a natural lake as a tailings dump, this allowing lethal waste to be disposed of there. (Visit source)

  191. Royal Assent to a new National Marine Conservation Areas Act confers additional security on Marine Conservation Areas that had been established by Parks Canada. The Act limits the ability of the government to license any part of a Marine Conservation Area to private interests, or permit mineral prospecting or mining in it. (Visit source)

  192. A review of species protection across Canada by environmental non-profit EcoJustice gives the county a D- for fulfillment of its international commitments to protect endangered species. The provinces receive grades ranging from C+ (Nova Scotia) to F (BC and Newfoundland). (Visit source)

  193. The Species At Risk Act creates a process for endangered species to receive special protection under Canadian law. It responds to the International Convention on Biological Diversity. Experts nominate endangered species (those facing "imminent" risk of extinction or extirpation) and threatened ones (those that will become endangered if conditions are not changed) to the Minister of the Environment for protection; the Minister and federal Cabinet decide which species to list for protection. (Visit source)

  194. Provisions of the Species At Risk Act (SARA) come into force making it an offence to kill, harm, harass or capture an individual of a listed endangered, threatened, or extirpated species. It also becomes an offence to possess, collect, buy, sell or trade such species in Canada, as well as to damage or destroy the residence of an endangered or threatened species. Prohibitions are placed on destruction of critical habitat. Offences under SARA carry fines of up to one million dollars, but enforcement is rare and for many species, the identification of ‘critical habitat’ is slow to be made. (Visit source)

  195. An index of marine biodiversity and ecosystem health reveals that Canada’s oceans have been in continuous decline between 2000 and 2006. Compared to 15 peer countries by the business-oriented Conference Board of Canada in a report published in 2014, this country came last for marine ecosystem stewardship, witnessing a drop of 0.69 per cent a year in its Marine Trophic Index—compared to an increase (improving marine health) of 2.2 per cent a year over the same period in Belgium. (Visit source)

  196. The NAFTA Commission on Environmental Cooperation finds that Canada has been failing to enforce its own laws meant to protect the nests of migratory birds. The ruling confirms a complaint filed in 2001 by environmental groups. The federal government responds by initiating planning for a new program to protect migratory birds from a variety of threats, but this is canceled in 2010. (Visit source)

  197. An audit of Canada’s natural security by the World Wildlife Fund’s Living Planet project, reports that, “Ecologically we’re in the red.” While Canada’s per-capita consumption of resources is still less than this country’s biological carrying capacity, if everyone on Earth matched our consumption, they would need 4.3 planets to do so. Our per-capita ecological “footprint” is the fourth largest in the world. The study tracked population trends for 393 Canadian vertebrate species, and found that numbers increased slowly between 1970 and 1989, “thanks in part to effective conservation,” were stable until about 1994, but have since plummeted by almost a quarter. (Visit source)

  198. An omnibus budget bill gives the federal Minister of Transportation authority to classify certain rivers and lakes as “minor” and hence exempt from the protection of the 127-year-old Navigable Waters Protection Act. A similar designation for some categories of “works” or installations, will exempt them from environmental impact assessment. These decisions must be reported in the Canada Gazette, but need not entail public consultation. (Visit source)

  199. An omnibus budget bill amends regulations to exempt several hundred specified projects and entire classes of other construction from federal environmental reviews. Amendments to the Exclusion List Regulation exempt as many as 2,000 individual projects, as well as all road, waste- or drinking water system and transit system construction, from review under the Canadian Environmental Assessment (Act 1992). The exclusions reflect a determination by Cabinet that the projects concerned will have insignificant environmental effects. Projects that fail to qualify for exclusion may, with ministerial approval, be subject to the generally lesser requirements of a provincial environmental assessment. (Visit source)

  200. No endangered species has much chance of recovery if its habitat disappears. When the federal Minister of the Environment failed to identify any critical habitat for the threatened Greater Sage Grouse, wildlife groups took the Crown to court. The Federal Court holds that the minister’s inaction was unreasonable, and orders the ministry to review it. Presiding Justice Zinn emphasizes that the Species At Risk Act (SARA) does not allow the government to wait for unequivocal scientific certainty before protecting habitat. Rather, “SARA stipulates that the respondent must make the determination of critical habitat based on the best available information, which is to say the best information that exists at any one point in time. That information may change over time, but the identification of critical habitat cannot be postponed for that reason alone.” -- Alberta Wilderness Association and others v Minister of Environment 2009 (Visit source)

  201. Five months before a scheduled public review of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (1995), the omnibus federal budget bill makes a number of significant changes. One responds to a Supreme Court of Canada ruling that the federal Minister of Environment could not cherry-pick elements of a proposed project to submit to CEAA review in order to reduce the level of scrutiny it will receive; amendments provide explicit legislative authority for such limitations. Another change exempts numerous infrastructure projects that receive federal funding, such as roads and railway lines, from environmental review. Reviews of energy projects are reassigned from the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency to either the National Energy Board or the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission; both are centres of technical expertise in their respective sectors, but neither has previously been tasked to review projects in light of all of Canada’s federal statutes, as had the CEAA. (Visit source)

  202. The federal-provincial Canadian Council of Ministers of Natural Resources issues a first comprehensive report on the condition of Canada’s ecosystems and species. While forest cover is stable at a national level, some marine mammal populations are recovering, and some older chemical pollutants are disappearing from food chains, the report mainly reveals a spectrum of threats and biodiversity decline. Efforts to revive collapsed ocean fisheries have so far failed; in populated areas, coastal ecosystems are declining in extent and quality. Ice loss at sea and ashore is threatening some species and changing entire biomes. In the south, warmer water in reservoirs, ponds and rivers is supporting a growing number of toxic algal blooms. Canada continues to lose remaining vestiges of its former native grass and wetlands. Farmland, host to half of Canada’s at-risk species, has become less hospitable to biodiversity as a result of intensive agricultural practices. Acid rain has not gone away: although lake acidity has dropped, lake wildlife is not recovering. Ecosystem services are being lost, and becoming more expensive to maintain. Wild food webs are altering as important components are lost. (Visit source)

  203. Some 1,600 ducks and other migratory waterfowl land on an oil sands mine tailings pond belonging to Syncrude Canada Ltd. and die. After images emerge in the media of ducks dying in the pond’s toxic contents, the federal and Alberta governments charge Syncrude Canada Ltd. under the Migratory Birds Convention Act. with "depositing a substance harmful to migratory birds in an area frequented by migratory birds." The Provincial Court of Alberta finds Syncrude guilty, and fines the company $3 million. -- R v Syncrude Ltd. 2010 (Visit source)

  204. A report by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans on the country’s three major coastlines finds that marine mammals (seals and whales) once hunted to near extinction are recovering in all of the Pacific, Atlantic and Arctic Oceans. It is a rare positive trend however. All three oceans are also becoming more acidic, and experiencing an increase in contamination by complex industrial and pharmaceutical compounds. Mercury is on the rise in the Arctic Ocean; ‘hypoxic’ dead zones are appearing off our Pacific and Atlantic coasts. Commercial fish stocks have collapsed on the east and west coasts, and on both fish mortality has increased while the average size of fish (of the same age and species) has declined. The report also warns that “non-linear responses, unexpected impacts and … tipping points,” loom for marine ecosystems, but that a “lack of consistent biodiversity monitoring, analytical tools, information systems, and reporting makes it difficult to deliver a national-scale ecosystem assessment.” (Visit source)

  205. A joint federal-provincial report reveals broad declines in the health of Canadian wildlife species and many of their supporting habitats. Of seven Canadian biome types, only three are rated as “healthy"; four are assessed as “impaired”. There is some good news: about half of Canada’s total land area, mainly in the North, remains “intact” and the levels of some banned pollutants like PCBs and DDT are declining in the environment. But about a fifth of all Canadian fish and amphibians are at risk of extinction. Meanwhile, poisonous algae blooms are increasing in many Canadian lakes and in the Great Lakes invasive species have reached “critical” levels. The report, by the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment, is released on a Friday without media notice. (Visit source)

  206. Three First Nations and two environmental groups asked the Federal Court to compel the government to issue an emergency protection order under the Species at Risk Act (SARA) to protect boreal caribou herds in northern Alberta. Caribou are listed as threatened under the Act, and in Alberta are negatively impacted by the fragmentation of their habitat, principally due to resource developments, and further by the increased predation by wolves it makes possible. The Minister of the Environment concluded that an emergency protection order was unnecessary, because the caribou faced only local extirpation and not an imminent threat to their survival or recovery as a species. The Court accepts the evidence of injury to the caribou population, but also finds that the minister may have reached his conclusion reasonably—however he did not adequately explain that reasoning. Its ruling sets aside the minister’s decision and instructs him to reconsider the issue, but stops short of ordering him to issue an emergency protection order. (Visit source)

  207. The Species At Risk Act (SARA) commits Canada to implement plans for the recovery of species at high risk. In 2001, the committee of experts responsible for identifying such species named one group of west coast orca whales as facing "imminent" extirpation or extinction, putting them in the highest risk category of “endangered.” It determined that another group was in the second-most-serious category, as a “threatened” species, “likely to become… endangered… if nothing is done to reverse the factors leading to its extirpation or extinction.” Both groups of whales face similar threats, including environmental contamination, declining stocks of prey food, and physical and acoustic disturbances in their customary ranges. However, when the federal Minister of Fisheries and Oceans released a SARA plan to protect the whales’ critical habitat, it committed only to protect geophysical features such as shorelines and seabeds against damage by activities like pile-driving, sea-bed trawl fishing and ships’ anchors, arguing that other attributes are up to the minister's discretion to protect under other legislation. Nine environmental groups took the Crown to court. The Federal Court of Appeal agrees that SARA obliges the minister to protect all the habitat elements critical to the survival of threatened and endangered species—including factors such food prey—and that the Minister of Fisheries acted “unlawfully” in substituting discretionary action under other legislation for such a plan. (The lower Court had also remarked, in a discussion on costs, that Fisheries and Oceans had been “unjustifiably evasive and obstructive” in its conduct of the case.) -- Canada (Fisheries and Oceans) v David Suzuki Foundation 2012 (Visit source)

  208. The omnibus Jobs and Growth (budget) Act amends and renames the former Navigable Waters Protection Act as the Navigation Protection Act, dropping 99.9 per cent of Canada's rivers and 99.7 per cent of lakes larger than three square kilometres from its coverage. Shoreline owners on unprotected waterways are now free to install docks or other obstructions without notifying the federal government. The Minister of Transportation may no longer order such obstructions to be removed. On major waterways no longer covered under the new Act, it becomes the obligation of the public, municipalities or provinces to enforce the right of navigation, a federal Constitutional responsibility, by taking offenders to court. (Visit source)

  209. The omnibus budget bill rewrites key parts of the Fisheries Act. The Act was nearly as old as Canada, having been passed by the first Parliament in order to secure the productivity of then economically important Atlantic fisheries. Since 1868 it has been the principal law empowering the Government to protect oceans, clean water and the habitat fish require to thrive and reproduce. Amendments remove the Act’s prohibition on the “harmful alteration, disruption or destruction” of fish habitat in general, and its protection of all fish species. These are replaced by a prohibition on doing “serious harm to fish that are part of a commercial, recreational or Aboriginal fishery, or to fish that support such a fishery.” The amended Act includes “permanent,” although no longer “any”, alteration or disruption of those species’ habitat in its definition of “serious harm". It also permits the federal government to turn over its constitutional responsibility for the protection of fish to the provinces, and to exempt some waterways from the Act’s protection entirely. (Visit source)

  210. The 2012 omnibus budget bill amends the Species At Risk Act (SARA) to make permanent what had been temporary permits granted to industry to allow designated activities to disrupt or destroy habitat critical to threatened or endangered species. Amendments also exempt the National Energy Board—which licenses large energy projects in Canada—from SARA requirements that the impact of proposed developments on species at risk be assessed and measures be mandated to minimize harm before a project is certified to proceed. The amendments effectively mean that the potentai extinction of species need not impede federal licensing of national infrastructure projects like major gas or oil pipelines. (Visit source)

  211. An audit of Canada’s consumption of environmental goods and services, by the World Wildlife Fund’s Living Planet project, reports that Canadians have the 8th largest ecological footprint on Earth—2.5 times the per capita global average, and 3.5 times our share of the planet’s bio-productivity. (The ranking is an improvement over the last such report, in 2007, when Canadians had the world’s fourth heaviest ‘footprint’). More than half of Canada’s footprint is accounted-for by fossil fuel carbon emissions. At the current rate of growth in global resource consumption, the report estimates, humanity "will need the equivalent of two planets by 2030 to meet our annual demands.” (Visit source)

  212. The federal Commissioner of the Environment reviews progress toward establishing Marine Protected Areas to meet Canada’s 15-year-old commitment to complete a network of such areas. He finds that areas have been protected in only two of 29 “representative” marine ecosystems, representing just one-tenth of a commitment announced in 2010 to protect 10 per cent of Canada’s marine areas. (Visit source)

  213. More than one in five endangered Canadian wildlife species are at more risk than they were previously, Environment Canada reveals. There are 646 species listed as endangered, threatened or "of special concern". In a report to Canadians on indicators of environmental health, the agency discloses that 22 per cent of the species assessed more than once have witnessed heightened risk. Sixty-four per cent remain at the same risk, and 14 per cent face less risk than previously. (Visit source)

  214. The federal Environment Commissioner finds “a significant risk” that the ecological integrity of Canada’s national parks will continue to erode. His report applauds Canada for developing a framework of policies, directives, and guidelines to reverse an observed decline in the integrity of many of the ecosystems it oversees, but warns that “the Agency is challenged to meet many of its deadlines and targets.” Among other things, “key elements for a scientifically credible system for monitoring ecological integrity are either missing or only partly developed.” Observing cuts in Parks Canada’s budget, the Commissioner notes that the agency “has not clarified how and by when, with significantly fewer resources, it will address the backlog of unfinished work, the emerging threats to ecological integrity, and the declines it has identified in the condition of many park ecosystems.” (Visit source)

  215. The Commissioner of the Environment finds that Environment Canada has achieved good success in protecting migratory waterfowl (largely ducks and geese significant to hunters) but has largely failed other migratory birds that Canada has also committed to protect. “[S]ome of these bird populations—such as shorebirds, grassland birds, and even more dramatically, aerial insectivores that depend on flying insects for food—are in major decline,” the report notes. Fewer than half of 25 Bird Conservation Region Strategies, setting actions and objectives for different migratory bird groups, that the department had committed to complete by 2010, are done as of July, 2013. Those that are, “do not identify who should contribute to the proposed actions, timelines, and required resources.” Meanwhile, Environment Canada’s own scientific review found that "for 30 per cent of all bird species in Canada, monitoring is insufficient to determine whether they are at risk.” (Visit source)

  216. The Environment Commissioner finds that Canada’s progress toward its species-protection commitments under the 20-year-old U.N. Convention on Biodiversity has stalled. After releasing an initial ecosystems status and trends report in 2010, Environment Canada discontinued its role in establishing a biodiversity baseline and ecosystem-health monitoring capability. No further reports are forthcoming. The Commissioner notes that the agency “has not set out what it plans” to do, to continue implementing the Diversity Convention. As a result, “it is not clear how Canada will meet its biodiversity targets by 2020.” (Visit source)

  217. The Commissioner of the Environment reports that Environment Canada is not meeting its responsibility to properly monitor and plan for the protected areas it manages. There are 54 of these, but the Commissioner notes the agency has developed plans to manage only 46; three-quarters of the plans date to before the Species At Risk Act came into force in 2003. In 2011, the department itself judged 90 per cent of its plans to be inadequate. The agency is also operating in the dark, the Commissioner found: “Environment Canada has made little progress in monitoring activities, conditions, and threats for the protected areas it manages. The Department’s own assessments show a lack of proper inventories and insufficient information on species at risk. Monitoring of sites is done sporadically. Without regular monitoring, the Department cannot track whether the ecological integrity in protected areas is changing, nor can it identify any new or potential threats to local species so that it can react in an appropriate and timely manner.” (Visit source)

  218. The Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development reports to Parliament that Environment Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, and Parks Canada have failed to meet targets legally mandated in the Species At Risk Act (SARA) to establish recovery strategies for threatened species. Five years after a previous audit, they have made varying degrees of progress, but as of April 2013, 146 recovery strategies were incomplete and only seven of 97 required action plans were in place. Nearly half the mandated plans for species of special concern are incomplete. “Fisheries and Oceans Canada and Parks Canada have made notable progress,” on their share of the plans, the report says, but Environment Canada lags, with 84 per cent of its unfinished plans more than three years overdue. Of the strategies that have been completed nearly half fail to identify the at-risk species’ critical habitat. (Visit source)

  219. Five environmental groups, including Greenpeace and the Sierra Club of B.C., took the federal Ministers of Fisheries and Oceans and the Environment to court for their failure to meet deadlines prescribed in the Species At Risk Act (SARA) to develop recovery plans for four threatened or endangered populations of whales, sturgeon, murrelets and caribou. With the legally required plans more than three years overdue, Justice Anne Mactavish observes that, “The Ministers admit that they have failed to comply with their statutory obligations under SARA,” in a ruling that sharply criticizes the government for “egregious delays.” Although the court action had prompted the publication of draft recovery plans for three of the species at issue, and a final plan for the fourth, Justice MacTavish retained jurisdiction over the case to allow the plaintiffs to bring any further delays to her attention. (Visit source)

  220. Certain types of development are subject to screening under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA-2012). When that happens, regulations describe the information that a project proponent must provide to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency. Regulations setting these requirements out under the new 2012 version of the CEAA drop much of the information required under the former Act. They give the Agency 10 days to determine whether it has received the mandated information, then another 45 (including 20 in which the public may comment) to decide whether the project warrants an environmental assessment. (Visit source)

  221. The Federal Court grants the request of five B.C. First Nations for an interim injunction blocking the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans from opening a herring roe fishery in their traditional territories on the west coast of Vancouver Island. In approving the opening, Fisheries Minister Gail Shea had rejected both the First Nations’ submissions and the advice of her own scientists. The Court accused the Department of “fudging the numbers” regarding a safe limit to the proposed harvest, and of “depart[ing] from science-based assessments.” (Visit source)

  222. The world’s nations have about five years from 2014 to bring over-fishing on the high seas under control, or risk the ecological collapse of the oceans that generate half the oxygen we breathe. An important start, urges a Global Ocean Commission of experts convened by the Pew Foundation, would be to end the $30 billion paid annually in subsidies to high seas and unsustainable fishing practices. (Visit source)

  223. The non-partisan Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) finds that most of Canada’s parks and proposed protected areas are facing greater challenges than they were a year ago. “We’re most worried about the growing trend by governments to prioritize industrial and commercial interests over the long-term ecological, social and economic benefits of establishing and protecting Canada’s parks,” says CPAWS’ Alison Woodley. “Decisions are being made in many instances that ignore scientific evidence and public opinion." (Visit source)

  224. The degradation of 800,000 hectares of boreal forest for oil and gas exploitation in northern Alberta, increasingly large forest fires and old-growth logging elsewhere in Canada, make this country the world leader in degrading intact forest landscapes. According to the World Resources Institute, Greenpeace and other groups, the Amazon had the second-worst record of forest degradation, followed by Russia and the Congo River basin. (Visit source)

  225. Record-keepers looking back in 2014 will say that no one born after this day ever experienced a ‘normal’ world climate—that is, one unaffected by human greenhouse emissions. According to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), February 1985 was the last month when global temperatures were below the 20th century average. Michel Jarraud, Secretary-General of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), will remark in August, 2014, that, “Most people under the age of 30 have not lived in a world without global warming.” (Visit source)

  226. Canada's Prime Minister Brian Mulroney joins other leaders of the world's seven largest economies, meeting in Paris, to call for “common efforts to limit emissions of carbon dioxide". (Visit source)

  227. Envoys from Canada and more than 60 other nations endorse a goal of stabilizing global CO2 emissions by 2000, and reducing them by 20 per cent by 2005 (Visit source)

  228. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issues its first report summarizing the available science and observations. It concludes that atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations are rising due to human emissions. Global temperatures have risen 0.3°C to 0.6°C during the 20th century, but that is within the range of natural variability. However, continued human emissions on a 'Business as Usual' basis can be expected to increase global temperatures by about 0.3°C per decade through the 21st century. The panel called for an immediate reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of 60 per cent to avoid destabilizing the climate. (Visit source)

  229. One of the largest volcanic eruptions of the twentieth century injects 20 million tons of aerosol sulfur dioxide into the stratosphere more than 20 miles above Earth’s surface. The largest such stratospheric aerosol cloud since the beginning of satellite obervations in 1978, it was likely smaller than similar clouds released by the eruptions of Krakatoa in 1883 and Tambora in 1815. Nonetheless, over the next three years the presence of the sulfur dioxide particles in the atmosphere will cool the Earth's surface by as much as three-quarters of a degree Celsius. (Visit source)

  230. International diplomats create the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in advance of the Rio Earth Summit a month later. Although the Framework sets no binding limits on greenhouse gas emissions for individual countries and contains no enforcement mechanisms, it creates a negotiating framework for subsequent “protocols” detailing national commitments meant to "stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system.” The Framework comes into force two years later and in 1997, countries conclude its most famous “protocol” in Kyoto. Canada and the United States both initially sign the Kyoto protocol, but subsequently withdraw. Nonetheless Canada and 195 other countries remain members of the UNFCC as of March 2014. (Visit source)

  231. An Energy Efficiency Act comes into force to regulate the energy that a wide variety of industrial machinery and domestic appliances may consume. The government establishes testing, reporting, and labelling requirements that dealers in those products must follow. By 2014, the Act covers equipment ranging from freezers to ceiling fans, and carries a maximum $200,000 penalty for infractions. (Visit source)

  232. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's second summary of global climate science concludes that an observed rise in global temperatures is "unlikely to be entirely due to natural causes." A human contribution to climate change "is identifiable in the climatological record," it adds. Due to time-lags in the climate system, greenhouse gasses already emitted to this date will continue to produce additional warming of 1-3.6°F. Continuing "business as usual" emissions, will raise average global temperature by 1.44-6.3°F by 2100, the fastest rate of change in at least 10,000 years. (Visit source)

  233. A thirty-minute supper-time hailstorm does $300 million in damage, becoming Canada's second-costliest storm to date.

  234. Flooding in Quebec's Saguenay region forces 12,000 people to flee their homes and leaves 10 people dead. Damage makes the flooding Canada's first billion-dollar disaster. (Visit source)

  235. The world's nations negotiate the Kyoto Protocol. Developed--but not developing--countries accept binding targets to reduce their emissions by 2012. Canada commits to reduce national greenhouse gas emissions by 6 per cent from 1990 levels. The Protocol anticipates a second commitment period for deeper cuts, beginning in 2013. However Canada as well as the United States withdraw from the Protocol before then. By 2012, Canada's emissions are 26 per cent higher than its Kyoto target for that date. (Visit source)

  236. Days of freezing rain, wind and snow across Ontario and Quebec topple 130 power transmission towers, throwing four million people into the dark. Power outages last between a few days and four weeks. Damage is estimated at $3 billion.

  237. A powerful late-season hurricane sweeps across Central America, killing more than 10,000 people, including 174 in El Salvador, 100 in Guatemala, more than 4,500 in Nicaragua and over 6,076 in Honduras.

  238. Heavy winds and rain from two storm systems arriving over three days kill some 90 Europeans with 44 dead in France, 17 in Germany and 13 in Switzerland. The storms toppled 400 million trees in France and did an estimated $4 billion in damage.

  239. A winter storm blasts Atlantic Canada with blizzard snow, rain, and hurricane-force winds, driving flood waters into the center of Charlottetown, collapsing docks and relocating seaside cottages.

  240. Southern Alberta suffers its worst drought since 1918--even drier than the 1930s--as barely a quarter of normal rainfall arrives between May and August.

  241. The third report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warns that continuing greenhouse gas emissions on the present course would lead to an average global temperature increase of 1.4-5.8°C over the 21st century--more than the planet has warmed since the last ice age. (Visit source)

  242. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Christine Whitman, speaking for the newly inaugurated Administration of President George W. Bush, announces that the United States will not proceed with its commitments under the Kyoto Protocol to reduce greenhouse gasses, signed by President Bill Clinton. “We have no interest implementing that treaty,” Whitman says. National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice declares Kyoto “dead.” (Visit source)

  243. A persistent Pineapple Express airflow from the Pacific forces the jetstream north and delivers the warmest winter in more than 200 years to southern Canada. Ottawa's famous Rideau Canal skating rink ("the longest in the world") had its shortest season to date: just 25 days. The warm winter was followed by the country's fifth coldest spring on record--the coldest in 120 years on the Prairies. Then came a summer of record heat in Eastern Canada, with Montreal experiencing its hottest, driest summer on record.

  244. By a vote of 196 to 77, the House of Commons approves the ratification of the Kyoto Protocol. Canada ratifies the agreement a week later. Canada commits to reduce national greenhouse gas emissions by 6 per cent from 1990 levels by 2012. (Visit source)

  245. The worst drought on the Pacific coast in a century and interior temperatures that top 40°C set the stage for British Columbia's longest province-wide state of emergency, as forest fires rage over 2,650 sq. km of forest--11 times the average of the previous decade. In late August, after 44 rainless days in a row, a lightning strike ignites a fire south of Kelowna. Over the following week, 250 homes are destroyed and a third of the city evacuated. (Visit source)

  246. Ratification by 55 states accounting for at least 55 per cent of developed countries' total carbon dioxide emissions for 1990, brings the Kyoto Protocol into force. Canada commits to reduce its emissions by 6 per cent by 2012. (Visit source)

  247. The 2005-2006 federal budget proposes to create a "Canada Emission Reduction Incentives Agency," with $1 billion to buy carbon-reduction credits, and a "Greenhouse Gas Technology Investment Fund" to invest in research to reduce industrial GHG emissions. It also proposes to define greenhouse gases as toxic under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA 1992), a step that would allow the government to set industry-specific emission caps and an emissions-permit trading scheme. (Visit source)

  248. Legislation to implement the federal budget drops a proposal to define greenhouse gases as “toxic.” It does however create the promised funds to purchase emission-reduction credits and invest in industrial emission-reduction research and demonstration projects. A federal election in January, 2006, returns a new Conservative Government however, and neither proceeds. (Visit source)

  249. After sweeping up the Caribbean and across the Gulf of Mexico as a Category 5 hurricane, an only slightly muted super-storm Katrina makes landfall south of New Orleans, LA. Multiple defences fail, flooding four-fifths of the only partially evacuated and below-sea-level city to depths of as much as 4.6 m. The final death toll reaches 1,464 people. The storm's estimated $147 billion in damage makes it the most costly natural disaster on record. (Visit source)

  250. Environment Minister Rona Ambrose discloses that Canada cannot meet its Kyoto Protocol undertaking to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 6 per cent below 1990 levels by 2012. A week later, her department announces that all funding for efforts to meet the Kyoto goals has been cut. (Visit source)

  251. Six months into a Conservative minority government, Opposition members in the House of Commons table a Bill, C-288, requiring the government to implement Canada's commitments under the Kyoto Protocol. Government leaders warn that the Bill would impose “draconian steps that would paralyze Canada.” Nonetheless, the Bill will pass with Conservative members voting against it, and receive Royal Assent a year later. It will not be acted upon. (Visit source)

  252. Opening the 38th session of the B.C. Legislature, Lt.Gov. Iona Campagnolo announces that the Liberal government of Premier Gordon Campbell will enact North America's first carbon tax. It is enacted and takes effect in June, 2008, along with other climate measures including a low-carbon fuel standard and a goal of public-sector "carbon neutrality". (Visit source)

  253. The government releases “Turning the Corner,” its plan to meet Canada’s climate commitments. Noting that, “this Government takes its responsibilities under the Kyoto Protocol very seriously,” it aims for an ambitious 18 per cent reduction in emissions from heavy industry responsible for nearly half of Canada’s emissions, by 2010. It provides for an emissions and carbon-offset trading system for industry, and revives the previous government’s climate technology investment fund. However rather than a hard cap on GHG emissions, it proposes to cap carbon “intensity”—the amount of carbon released for each unit of production, and critics contend this could allow absolute emissions to rise in volume, even as “intensity” falls. (Visit source)

  254. The Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act, passed a year earlier over the minority Conservative government’s objections by Opposition members of the House of Commons and Senate, receives Royal Assent and becomes Canadian law. The government ignores the act however. Efforts by environmental groups to have the Federal Court order the government to comply, are rebuffed. (Visit source)

  255. The fourth report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change describes warming of the planetary climate as "unequivocal." "Most" of the increase in global temperature is "very likely due to the… increase in anthropogenic [human-caused] greenhouse gas concentrations." The report observes widespread effects including a string of record-warm years, declining ice sheets, and rising sea levels. The Arctic has warmed at twice the speed of the rest of the planet. It forecast future temperature increases of between 1.8°C and 4.0°C during the 21st century, depending on how society develops. However warming will continue at about 0.2°C a decade for at least the next two decades, regardless of response. (Visit source)

  256. Alberta introduces a climate strategy. It focuses on raising energy efficiency, attaching a price to some carbon emissions, and developing technology to capture and store emissions. The strategy sets goals of reducing ‘carbon intensity’ (GHGs released for each unit of goods or dollar of economic value produced); of stabilizing greenhouse gas emissions by 2020, and then reducing them; and reducing emissions absolutely by 14 per cent below 2005 levels by 2050. The strategy’s $15 per tonne carbon price applies only to about half of Alberta’s GHG emissions however, and in a complex formula, is levied only on carbon not eliminated by mandated intensity reductions—not on all GHGs released. As a result the formula allows GHG ‘intensity’ to fall, while total emission rise. (Visit source)

  257. A federal report finds that “impacts of changing climate are already evident in every region of Canada.” The 453-page “From Impacts to Adaptation: Canada in a Changing Climate 2007,” observes that “climate change will exacerbate many current climate risks, and present new risks and opportunities.” Extreme weather events typify the new threats facing Canadian communities and critical infrastructure. “Resource-dependent and Aboriginal communities are particularly vulnerable; this vulnerability is magnified in the Arctic.” As well, Canadian consumers and industry face indirect impacts from climate change elsewhere in the world. (Visit source)

  258. Tropical cyclone Nargis--Southeast Asia's equivalent to a hurricane--strikes Myanmar, devastating its low-lying coastline. Estimates will later place the confirmed death toll at nearly 32,000, with another 30,000 listed as "missing".

  259. Prime Minister Stephen Harper, then leading a minority government, tells the Canada-UK Chamber of Commerce in London that Canada “will in a relatively short period of time restrain and reverse the growth of GHG emissions. Industries will be expected to produce 18 per cent less greenhouse gasses per unit of production in 2010 compared to 2006, and those targets will get tougher by two per cent each year, each and every year.” The oil sands sector, he says, will face “specific and more demanding targets.” As well, “After 2012… oil sands operations will only be permitted if they can massively reduce their emissions....to what would be achieved through the implementation of carbon capture and storage.” (That technology, still unperfected, claims to be able to remove up to 90 per cent of the CO2 from power plant exhaust gas emissions). None of the proposals was proceeded with and Canada's emissions continue to climb. (Visit source)

  260. The Federal Court denies an application from Friends of the Earth for a court order requiring the federal government to “make, amend or repeal regulations necessary to ensure that Canada meets its obligations under Article 3.1 of the Kyoto Protocol.” The Court agrees with the Government’s position “that their accountability for their failure to fulfill Canada’s Kyoto obligations will be at the ballot box and cannot be in the courtroom.” (Visit source)

  261. Searing temperatures and hot winds create firestorm conditions in Australia's Victoria State. In one day, flames consume nearly 2,300 homes and take 173 lives.

  262. Heavy rains from Typhoon Morakot set off mudslides across Taiwain, killing at least 500 people. In the worst incident, a landslide buries about 380 villagers alive at Shiao Lin.

  263. Appearing before a Parliamentary Committee, Federal Environment Minister Jim Prentice says that Canada is abandoning its two-year-old 'Turning the Corner' climate strategy and its controversial caps on emissions 'intensity’. Instead of sector-based intensity reductions by regulation, he says, "We are talking about a cap-and-trade system, a continental cap-and-trade system that involves absolute emission reductions, not intensity targets.” When the plan fails to get American interest, Ottawa does proceed to regulate some industrial sectors (vehicles, power plants) although in some cases with intensity, not absolute caps. As of 2014, emissions from the oil and gas sector--Canada’s fastest-rising source of GHGs--remain unregulated. (Visit source)

  264. Overshadowed by a controversy over climate scientists' email exchanges--later determined to be groundless--nations meeting in Copenhagen agree to new but non-binding carbon-reduction targets to take effect when commitments under the Kyoto Protocol expire in 2012. Canada says it will reduce emissions by 17 per cent compared to 2005 levels, by 2020. The new target--roughly equivalent to 611 mt--is ten percent higher than the country's Kyoto commitment. By 2014, countries representing four-fifths of the world's GHG emissions had made some sort of commitment under the Copenhagen Accord. (Visit source)

  265. Canada's warmest winter on record ends March 21, 2010. National average temperatures are 4.1°C above the 1961-1990 "baseline."

  266. Fourteen hours of rain send mudslides down on mostly poor communities in Rio de Janeiro and Rio de Janeiro State, leaving more than 400 estimated dead.

  267. The worst flooding in over a decade sends landslides crashing into villages and drowns lowlands over many weeks in both southern and northern China, killing thousands and at one point forcing more than a quarter of a million people out of their homes.

  268. The United Nations said that floods had forced 10 million Pakistans from their homes.

  269. Canada's average temperature for the full year of 2010 was 3.0°C above the 1951-1980 normal, and the warmest year since nationwide recordkeeping began in 1948. (Visit source)

  270. Canada is the only one of 42 developed countries to miss a U.N. deadline to report its GHG emissions. Environment Canada explains that the recently completed federal election delayed its report. (Visit source)

  271. Federal Environment Commissioner Scott Vaughan reports that Canada’s existing policies will not achieve Canada's commitments under the Kyoto Protocol. The 2010 National Inventory Report, which provides information on Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions, shows that 2008 emissions were 734 million tonnes—32 per cent above the Kyoto target of 555 MT. Since its first climate change plan in 2007, the Commissioner reports, the government’s emission reduction goals have dropped “approximately 90 percent” from 282 MT, to 28 MT. (Visit source)

  272. Hours after returning from a United Nations climate conference, Environment Minister Peter Kent announces that Canada will withdraw from the Kyoto Protocol rather than pay $14 billion in penalties for failing to meet its target of a 6 per cent reduction in greenhouse emissions from 1990 levels by 2012. Instead Canada's emissions have risen 30 per cent, mainly from oilsands development. The only other countries to withdraw from Kyoto are Russia and the United States. (Visit source)

  273. An omnibus federal budget bill receives Royal Assent, repealing the Kyoto Protocal Implementation Act passed in 2007 (Visit source)

  274. Canada regulates GHG emissions from coal-fired power plants, the source of about 11 per cent of our greenhouse emissions. The regulation sets an “intensity” target of a maximum of 420 tons of CO2e emissions for each gigawatt/hr of electricity produced. However, it will apply only to new coal-fired plants built after July 1, 2015, and to older plants on a variety of rolling deadlines that from, potentially, immediately for the very oldest plants built before 1969, to 2060 for the newest. Nonetheless, the government says the rule will reduce Canada’s overall GHG emissions by 214 Mt—roughly equivalent to three years of coal-plant emissions—over the next 21 years. (Visit source)

  275. Arctic sea ice dwindles to a record-low summer extent of 3.4 million sq. km., or about a quarter of the Arctic Ocean surface--down significantly from the previous record low, of 29 per cent, in 2007. In the 1970s, summer sea ice typically covered about half of the Arctic Ocean. (Visit source)

  276. A decaying hurricane hits the New Jersey shore, pushing a storm surge of seawater into New York Harbor and flooding parts of lower Manhattan. New Jersey suffers heavy damage and many New York subways are flooded. Later estimates place the total damage at $50 billion--making Sandy the second-most costly storm on record to that date, after Hurricane Katrina. (Visit source)

  277. Environment Canada proposes to tighten the Passenger Automobile and Light Truck Greenhouse Emission Regulations for vehicles manufactured in the 2017 model year and beyond. Regulations currently in force for the 2011-2016 model years are estimated to reduce lifetime emissions from vehicles manufactured in that period by 92 Mt of CO2 equivalent. After the 2017 model year, car manufacturers must reduce their products' GHG emissions by an average of 5 per cent each model year until 2025. Light truck emissions must be reduced by 3.5 per cent a year for the first four years, and 5 per cent annually from 2021 to 2025, to “give time for companies to find technological solutions” to cutting emissions without sacrificing truck “utility”. The government says the rules will require 2025-model cars to use about half the fuel—and release half the GHGs—of ones built in 2008. Over the lifetime of cars built between 2017 and 2025, the new targets will reduce national GHG emissions by about 163 MT—or about what all of Canada’s cars and trucks emitted in 2012. The regulations are proclaimed in the Canada Gazette on Oct. 8, 2014. (Visit source)

  278. Canada informs the United Nations that it is withdrawing from the international Convention to Combat Desertification. No announcement is made to the Canadian public, although media report the decision the following week. The government says the Convention is ineffective and bureaucratic, however Canada becomes the only signatory to withdraw and the only U.N. member not a party to it. The world continues to lose about 12 million hectares of fertile land--roughly the equivalent of all the farmland in Ontario and Manitoba combined--every year to expanding deserts. By 2013, up to 30 per cent of Earth’s land surface had become too dry to farm—twice as much as before 1980. (Visit source)

  279. "Human influence on the climate system is clear," the fifth report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change states. With atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations at their highest level in more than 800,000 years, the panel said, "Warming of the climate system is unequivocal." Each of the last three decades has been successively warmer at the earth's surface than any earlier decade since 1850, when reliable record-keeping began. "Since the 1950s…the atmosphere and ocean have warmed, the amounts of snow and ice have diminished, [and] sea level has risen." More than 90 per cent of the globe's extra heat has entered the oceans, but both the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets are also losing mass. (Visit source)

  280. Environment Canada reports that while Canada's GHG emission are lower than they would have been with no government action, without further measures to restrict emissions they will still exceed the country's Copenhagen Accord targets by 2020. On the present course, Canada's 2020 emissions will be 734 megatons, almost 20 per cent above its commitment of 612 megatons. (Visit source)

  281. Prime Minister Stephen Harper, in year-end interviews, says that regulations to limit greenhouse emission from the oil and gas industry, promised as long ago as 2008, will not likely be ready for another "couple of years" at least. (Visit source)

  282. A filing by Canada to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change estimates that the country's GHG emissions in 2020 will be 735 million tons (MT), almost the same as they were in 2005 (737 MT) and 20 per cent above Canada's Copenhagen Accord commitments. After 2020, the report predicts, Canada's emissions will soar, reaching 814 MT by 2030, 10 per cent higher than in 2005, and fully one-third higher than the country's 2009 commitments at Copenhagen. (Visit source)

  283. The U.S. Congressional Research Service releases a report finding that Canadian oil sands heavy crude releases 17 per cent more greenhouse gasses from well-to-tank than the average of conventional crude oils refined in the United States. (Visit source)

  284. An annual review of Canadian greenhouse-gas policy by the independent, non-profit, Winnipeg-based International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), reports that Canada is on a path to achieve roughly half of its current commitment to reduce GHG emissions by 255 Mt by 2020. Moreover, it reports, “the evaporation of federal political will” has left the regulatory process “stalled” without extending rules to the oil and gas sector—Canada’s fastest-rising source of emissions. (Visit source)

  285. Canadian insurance executives warn a conference on business and environmental sustainability that Canada is doing little to anticipate extreme weather, leaving the country vulnerable to high costs when forecast disasters strike. Catastrophic losses to weather events reached a record $3.2 billion in Canada in 2013, said Mary Lou O'Reilly, senior vice president of communications with the Insurance Bureau of Canada. That compared with averages of about $400 million a year from 1983 to the early 2000s. Said Robert Wesseling, executive vice-president of Co-operators Insurance: "We need to adapt to our future environment or we will suffer the economic costs." (Visit source)

  286. Describing the statement as “just a little bit more frank” than other leaders are willing to be, Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Australian P.M. Tony Abbott jointly assert that neither country will take any action to fight climate change if it presents any danger to their economies. (Visit source)

  287. In a 300-page report, "Canada in a Changing Climate," the federal government reports that all the trends observed in its last such report, in 2008, continue: Canada is getting warmer and wetter—although droughts can still occur; big storms are more common; ice and snow are melting pretty much everywhere. “Further changes in climate are inevitable,” the report states, “even with aggressive.. mitigation efforts.” It won’t be all bad: farming can look forward to a “likely modest increase in .. production,” with longer summers but less reliable weather; fishers may need to harvest different species in new places, but the government forecasts an overall increase in the “total biomass” of landed fish. On the other hand, resource industries exposed to the vagaries of weather, like forestry or mining, may face more interruptions. The report’s authors say little is known about the knock-on effects of a changing climate on other business conditions such as consumer demand, supply chains, real estate assets, or legal liability. They add that they can find “relatively few examples of concrete, on-the-ground adaptation measures being implemented specifically to reduce [Canadian] vulnerability to projected changes in climate.” (Visit source)

  288. In 2007, British Columbia introduced Canada’s most elaborate greenhouse gas response. The program included North America’s first carbon tax, a low-carbon standard for vehicle fuels, and commitments to a regional carbon cap-and-trade scheme, among other elements. In 2014, the province reported that it had achieved a six percent reduction in GHG emissions, but that more would need to be done to achieve its climate goals. The report suggested the province’s carbon tax may rise, and that regulation may extend beyond fossil fuel combustion to GHGs released by industrial processes, especially those involved in the production of natural gas. (Visit source)

  289. Alberta’s 2008 climate strategy is not meeting its goals, the province’s Auditor General finds. Although the province has issued no public reports on its progress, the A.G. finds that it is failing to meet its government's GHG targets; in fact, Alberta emissions rose by 7.5 per cent between 2005 and 2012, the fastest of any province in that time. Indeed, he finds “no evidence” that the province has even monitored progress toward its mandated 2008 goals, and reports that officials have in fact not yet settled on a method to do so. (Visit source)

  290. Ontario’s Environment Commissioner warns that more extreme weather and other costly consequences of climate change are occurring “exactly as predicted by…models.” Ontario’s response however, has not kept pace since its decision in 2003 to eliminate coal-fired power generation. Thanks to that choice, Ontario will probably make its 2014 target of reducing emissions by 6 per cent below 1990 levels, “But it’s not going to meet its 2020 target, because it has taken very little additional action to implement the Climate Change Action Plan it released seven years ago.” (Visit source)

  291. A report by the US Executive Branch concludes that the cost of action to mitigate (delay or reduce) climate change will rise by 40 per cent for every decade it is postponed. “Although delaying action can reduce costs in the short run," the White House authors conclude, "on net, delaying action to limit the effects of climate change is costly.” For two reasons: first, delay allows more CO2 to accumulate in the atmosphere, creating more damaging weather disruptions; secondly, delay raises the cost of later action to achieve a desired greenhouse gas concentration. “In practice, delay could result in both types of costs. These costs can be large.” The report estimates that for every degree Celsius the planet warms beyond 2°C above pre-industrial levels—likely on the current emissions track—impacts would create an annual drain of $150 billion on the world economy. (Visit source)

  292. The Parliamentary Secretary to the federal Minister of Environment announces the department will spend $2.7 million on a variety of climate-change research. For context, the amount is approximately one seventh of the $20 million budgeted for personal security for Prime Minister Stephen Harper. (Visit source)

  293. The world's major economies are falling further behind the reductions in greenhouse gas emissions needed to keep the planetary temperature within 2°C of its pre-industrial average, a leading accounting firm reports. The world’s governments have set a goal of capping warming at 2°C in the belief that anything more will trigger dangerous climate disruption. However, “the gap between what we are achieving and what we need to do is growing wider every year," said a spokesman for Pricewaterhouse Coopers, which compiled the study. "Current pledges really put us on track for 3 degrees [of warming].” A more positive sign is that emerging economies including China, India and Mexico have reduced their economy’s carbon ‘intensity’ (how much carbon is emitted for every dollar of value produced) faster than the United States, Japan or the European Union. (Visit source)

  294. World emissions of greenhouse gasses increased by a record amount in 2013, to levels 61 per cent above those in 1990—the base year for emission reductions promised under the Kyoto Protocol—the World Meteorological Organization reports. The concentration of long-living greenhouse gases in the atmosphere also reached a new record high of 396 parts per million averaged over the year. As a result, the warming effect of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere was 34 per cent greater than in 1990. At the current rate of increase, sustained global CO2 concentrations will cross the symbolic 400 parts per million threshold in 2015 or 2016. (Visit source)

  295. The Global Commission on the Economy and Climate finds that an aggressive international action plan pursuing low-carbon practices and technologies would deliver both greater climate security and economic growth. Established in 2013 by seven national governments and led by former Mexican President Felipe Calderon and British economist Lord Nicholas Stern, the Commission reports that, ”countries at all levels of income now have the opportunity to build lasting economic growth at the same time as reducing the immense risks of climate change.” It presents a 10-point plan that, it claims, could achieve up to 90 per cent of the GHG-emission reductions required, according to scientific advice, to limit global warming to less than 2°C. Its top recommendations include phasing out subsidies for fossil fuels (currently US$600 billion a year worldwide), and instituting “a strong and predictable price on carbon.” (Visit source)

  296. A study by the market-oriented International Monetary Fund finds that a ‘carbon price’ of about $30 a ton of CO2 would boost Canada’s economy. The study finds that a carbon tax designed, like the one in place in British Columbia since 2008, to be ‘recycled’ through reductions in other taxes, could generate a boost to the national economy of close to 0.8 per cent of GDP (roughly as much as the economy grew in the first three months of 2014). The global study found that an average carbon price of $57.5 per ton of CO2, enacted at “efficient” levels in the top 20 greenhouse gas emitters, would deliver benefits worth 4 per cent of their combined GDP. (Visit source)

  297. Investors representing financial assets worth more than a quarter of the entire world’s economic product (2012), urge national leaders to take stronger action to limit climate disruption. The statement by more than 340 institutional investors, managing funds worth $24 trillion from around the globe, estimate that annual investment in clean, low-carbon technology needs to quadruple to hold global warming below 2°C, and called on governments to enact supportive legislation to accomplish that goal. (Visit source)

  298. The Conservative government of Prime Minister Brian Mulroney creates a National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy (NRTEE), with members from business, labour and science, to bring “leadership in the new way we must think of the relationship between the environment and the economy, and the new way we must act.” Inspired in part by the Brundtland Commission on sustainability, and enacted as part of a wave of initiatives that also included Canada’s first-ever federal policy on water, the Round-Table created a common forum where informed representatives of both economic and environmental interests could share information, understand each other’s perspectives, and seek consensus about the "When to say 'when'" problem—where and when to draw the line between legitimate and sustainable economic exploitation of natural systems, and their preservation. It would issue regular reports on subjects from climate change to security of Canada’s water supply for the next 24 years before being defunded by another Conservative government in 2012. (Visit source)

  299. Conservative Minister of the Environment Robert de Cotret tables “Canada's Green Plan for a Healthy Environment.” The plan sets aside $3 billion (equivalent to $4.83 billion in 2014) to be spent over the following five years to overhaul how the federal Crown defends Canada’s environmental security. Senior staff in his ministry envision regular reviews of the state of Canada’s natural security, equivalent to the economic assessments that give context to the government’s financial budget. In a 1997 study, policy analyst Robert Gale would later observe that by the time the Plan was enacted, “coercive instruments that would change behaviour to protect the environment, such as taxes and regulations, were avoided.” Instead, “priorities were geared to ‘soft’ policy areas such as research and public education.” (Visit source)

  300. When Alberta sought to dam its Oldman River to control flooding and provide a reservoir against drought in the province’s southwest, the federal government initially did not order an environmental assessment of the project, even though the dam would impact several public interests over which the Constitution gives Ottawa authority: navigable waters, fisheries and “Indians and Indian lands.” Friends of the Oldman River Society, an Alberta environmental group, went to court to compel the federal departments to conduct a thorough review of the project. The Friends lost at lower court trial in Alberta, but won an appeal, which the government contested. When the Supreme Court of Canada examines the case it agrees with the environmental group. Its decision strongly confirms the federal government's authority over environmental matters, and further clarifies that when a Guidelines Order (later replaced by the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act) is in place, Ottawa must consider environmental effects on all areas of federal jurisdiction. The decision sets the stage for the passage later the same year of a Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. -- Friends of the Oldman River Society v. Canada (Minister of Transport) 1992. (Visit source)

  301. Canada gets its first federal legislation mandating the assessment in advance of how industrial development may impact ecosystems. Other federal laws often don’t come into play until the environment is already damaged. The Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA-1992) provides a new mechanism to prevent harm from occurring and identify alternatives. It requires consideration of the environmental consequences of a development project in relation to other federal laws that protect fisheries, migratory birds and parks (later, also species at risk). It also acknowledges treaty and aboriginal rights and provides a mechanism for constitutionally required aboriginal consultation. It serves for 20 years before being repealed and replaced in 2012 (Visit source)

  302. Parliament legislates an expanded role for the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy as an independent agency to advise the government and people of Canada on meeting the challenges of sustainable development. The Act also specifically empowers the NRTEE to undertake research and analyses of critical issues; to advise governments and industry on ways of integrating environmental considerations into economic decision-making; and promoting awareness of the cultural, social, economic and policy changes needed to preserve our prosperity into the future on a sustainable basis. (Visit source)

  303. The National Pollutant Release Inventory is created to track emissions of toxic substances from Canadian industries. The action responds belatedly to the creation of the U.S. Toxic Release Inventory in 1987. It makes possible the first direct comparisons of Canadian and American pollutant emissions. The first such comparisons, in 1997, will show Canadian industries polluting far more than their U.S. counterparts. (Visit source)

  304. The newly elected Liberal government of Prime Minister Jean Chretien drops most of the initiatives included in the 1990 Green Plan. (Visit source)

  305. The Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (1995) comes into force. Its key purpose is to identify, consider and plan to avoid the long-term environmental consequences of a development proposal before it proceeds. The Act requires that project impacts be examined in the light of other federal laws that protected species at risk, fisheries, migratory birds and protected areas. It acknowledges treaty and aboriginal rights, and provides a mechanism for aboriginal consultation. The Act is repealed in 2012 and replaced by the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012. (Visit source)

  306. The federal government lets three federal-provincial agreements to cooperate on mapping flood zones, dating to 1975, expire. By 2000, the Flood Damage Prevention Program will be entirely wound down. Ottawa's only role in flood disasters will be as a provider of last-resort relief on a case-by-case basis. (Visit source)

  307. The Federal Government halts publication of regular State of the Environment Reports. The decision significantly reduces the ability of citizens and non-government groups to know what is being done to protect the environment, or to keep track of the changing health of Canada's ecosystems.

  308. A federal-provincial ‘Canada-Wide Accord on Environmental Harmonization’ proposes to turn over much of the day-to-day work of protecting ecosystems within federal jurisdiction to the provinces. The provinces will sign individual agreements with Ottawa to undertake combined environmental impact reviews where they are required by both levels of government under law. The Accord says this will “greater effectiveness, efficiency, accountability, predictability and clarity of environmental management,” by eliminating supposed duplication between concurrent federal and provincial reviews. However a study by Environment Canada at the time finds little, if any, such duplication; both levels of government are needed to address the full range of ecosystem impacts from some developments. The same study notes that the harmonization plan has neither a review process to ensure it is meeting its goals, nor any provision to discipline provinces that fail to adequately enforce federal laws. (Visit source)

  309. The Federal Court rules that the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans erred when it issued permits to a proposed coal mine that would operate as many as 30 open pits near Jasper National Park, for a planned 20 years. The Court rules that the joint federal-provincial panel that reviewed the project’s impacts failed to correctly apply the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA 1992) when it chose to overlook information about the likely cumulative effects of multiple mine pits in combination with other foreseeable developments. The decision strongly affirms that developments cannot be judged on a narrow definition of their impacts, but must be considered in context with what else is being developed around them. -- Alberta Wilderness Assn. v. Cardinal River Coals Ltd. 1999 (Visit source)

  310. The ‘Sunpine’ Case: Alberta environmentalists challenged the environmental impact assessment of a proposed forest road and bridges across two rivers, Ram R., and Prairie Creek. The Federal Court of Appeal finds that the federal government did err in its assessment: while it was entitled to limit the scope of the work assessed to just the two bridges, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act still required it to consider the cumulative impacts of the new road. At the same time, the court walks back an earlier ruling (in ‘Oldman River’), to confirm that it is legal for federal ministries to limit environmental assessments to aspects of a project that are within federal jurisdiction. -- Friends of the West Country Assn. v. Canada (Minister of Fisheries & Oceans), 1999 (Visit source)

  311. The Auditor General reports that, “a multi-sectoral Task Force supported by a government secretariat is beginning work on a proposed Canadian Information System for the Environment which would be accessible to policy makers and citizens.” It never materializes. (Visit source)

  312. Lawyers acting for an environmental group challenged federal reliance on provincial authorities to oversee measures taken to mitigate adverse impacts from development on federally protected ecosystems. The case deals with permits allowing Suncor Inc. to alter or destroy fish habitat in order to expand its oil sands operation. In granting the permits, the federal ministers of Environment and Fisheries and Oceans had relied on an environmental impact assessment prepared to Alberta’s provincial guidelines, and on proposed mitigation efforts that would also be under provincial control. The court rules that federal decision-makers can rely only on mitigation measures whose implementation they also control; otherwise, federal authorities might lack the flexibility to deal with unforeseen cumulative impacts beyond provincial jurisdiction. While the decision upholds the plaintiff environmental group's case, Parliament later amends the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act to remove the grounds for the judgement. -- Environmental Resource Centre v. Canada (Minister of Environment) 2001 (Visit source)

  313. The federal government, with a consortium of Canadian universities, opens a research lab on Ellesmere Island, the most northerly point in Canada. The Polar Environment Atmospheric Research Laboratory (PEARL), at Eureka, Nunavut, begins taking observations for Canadian and international studies of global contaminant transportation, the ozone layer and climate change. (Visit source)

  314. TrueNorth Energy sought approval to build and operate a major oil sand facility in Alberta. This would destroy a watercourse, requiring approval under the federal Fisheries Act and triggering an impact assessment under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA 1992). The federal Minister of Fisheries and Oceans limited the scope of the assessment to the impacts on the watercourse, excluding the broader impacts of the project as a whole on other interests within federal jurisdiction such as migratory birds, indigenous peoples and fisheries. The Prairie Acid Rain Coalition, an environmental group, challenged that exclusion before the Federal Court, which ruled in favour of the ministry. Its decision allowed the federal government to significantly narrow the scope of environmental assessments, and was arguably at odds with several earlier rulings by the Supreme Court of Canada. Nonetheless, the Federal Court of Appeal upholds the ruling. -- Prairie Acid Rain Coalition v. Canada (Minister of Fisheries & Oceans) 2006 (Visit source)

  315. The new Conservative government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper reorganizes the Privy Council Office, the public service body that, according to its website, “brings together quality, objective policy advice and information to support the Prime Minister and Cabinet,” dispensing with the National Science Advisor. The incumbent, whose role had been to provide scientific context to policy discussions, is sent to a remote departmental office in Ottawa. Four years later the position is eliminated entirely. (Visit source)

  316. A study by the David Suzuki Foundation finds that Canada’s regulation of human exposure to pesticides is among the weakest in the industrialized world. Canada permits the use of at least 60 active pesticide ingredients that are banned in other countries. These appear in some 1,130 agricultural and home and garden products, including such heavily used pesticides as atrazine and 2,4-D (both linked to endocrine damage in wildlife). Other countries have also set lower exposure limits for 38 of 40 combinations of foods and pesticides examined. (Visit source)

  317. The government releases “Mobilizing Science and Technology to Canada's Advantage,” a policy shift in federal science spending. Future support will focus on “encouraging a more competitive and sustainable Canadian economy with the help of science and technology.” The policy asserts that “the most important role of the Government of Canada is to ensure a competitive marketplace and create an investment climate that encourages the private sector to compete against the world on the basis of their innovative products, services, and technologies.” By a variety of measures, federal support for science is redirected from in-house and ‘basic’ science, to support for private-sector and product-oriented research and development. (Visit source)

  318. The government’s Speech from the Throne commits it to “build a world-class Arctic research station that will be on the cutting edge of Arctic issues, including environmental science and resource development.” When construction begins in 2014, it is expected to open in 2017, a decade after its announcement. (Visit source)

  319. Imperial Oil plans a large, integrated oil sands pit mine and bitumen-extraction facility north of Ft. McMurray, AB. Several environmental groups challenge the recommendation of a joint federal-provincial environmental impact review panel that the project be approved. They claim that the review panel relied on proposals to mitigate the project's significant environmental damage that were not technically or economically feasible, and that it failed to explain how limiting greenhouse gas emission 'intensity' (that is, GHG emissions per barrel of oil produced) would effectively mitigate the effects of rising total emissions. The Federal Court dismisses most of the groups' case, but requires the review panel "to provide a rationale for its conclusion that the proposed mitigation measures will reduce the potentially adverse effects of the Project’s greenhouse gas emissions to a level of insignificance." -- Pembina Institute for Appropriate Development v. Canada (Attorney General) 2008 (Visit source)

  320. For 140 years, the Navigable Waters Protection Act (NWPA) has provided the legal weight behind the Federal government's role in protecting the aquatic environment, as well as the public's right to travel by water on Canadian rivers and lakes. It has protected every fish-bearing and potentially navigable waterway in the nation. The 2009 Budget Implementation Act amends the venerable NWPA to allow the Minister of Transport to create categories of rivers and lakes exempt from those protections; proposals to modify or destroy exempt waterways will no longer trigger a mandatory environmental impact assessment. (Visit source)

  321. The federal omnibus budget bill amends two sets of regulations to permit the exemption of several hundred individual construction projects and entire classes of other developments from federal environmental reviews. Amendments to the Exclusion List Regulation allow the federal cabinet to declare that as many as 2,000 individual projects, and all construction of roads or transit and waste- or drinking water systems, will have “insignificant environmental effects,” and so need not be reviewed under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (1995). Under other amendments to the Adaptation Regulation, projects which fail to qualify for that exclusion may be allowed to undergo a provincial—rather than federal—environmental review, which need not necessarily consider impacts on environmental values protected under the Constitution by federal laws and jurisdiction. (Visit source)

  322. Ecojustice Canada, a non-profit group that employs the law in defense of the environment, and the Sierra Club of Canada, take the month-old "Exclusions List Regulations" and "Infrastructure Projects Environmental Assessment Adaptation Regulations" to Federal Court. The groups charge that the regulations illegally exempt from environmental review hundreds of projects in national parks and other vulnerable locations, solely on the grounds that they are part of the federal government's economic Action Plan. Before the Court rules, the government will repeal the contested regulations, and legislate an exemption from environmental assessment for all federally funded infrastructure projects.

  323. The Federal Court rules that the Minister of the Environment exceeded his power when he exempted the mining industry from a requirement under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act that mines disclose to a public inventory the amounts of heavy metals and other toxic chemicals they release to tailings ponds and other catchments. (Visit source)

  324. Two companies, Red Chris Development Company Ltd. and BCMetals, sought to develop an open-pit gold and copper mine in Northern BC. Their proposal met criteria in the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (1992) for a 'comprehensive study,' a more extensive review process that includes public consultations for projects with potentially significant adverse effects. However the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans, citing the 2006 ‘TrueNorth’ decision, 'scoped' the proposal under review to include only a tailings pond dam, a relatively minor feature requiring only a 'screening' without public consultation; it excluded from review the mine itself and an associated ore mill--the elements of the project which met the criteria for more stringent study. MiningWatch, a non-profit group, challenged this decision. The case was eventually heard by the Supreme Court of Canada, which rules that the Department does not have the legal right to redefine or 'split' development projects so as to reduce the level of environmental scrutiny they attract. The Court rules that a CEAA 1992 review may go beyond the impacts of a proposed project considered in full, but may not be restricted to less. Despite finding that the Department had proceeded illegally however, the Court does not order it either to conduct a more comprehensive study of the B.C. mine's impact, or to withdraw the approval it had already issued for the mine's development. -- MiningWatch Canada v. Canada (Minister of Fisheries and Oceans) 2010 (Visit source)

  325. Five months before a scheduled public review of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (1995), the omnibus federal budget bill makes a number of significant changes. One responds to a Supreme Court of Canada ruling that the federal Minister of Environment could not cherry-pick elements of a proposed project to submit to CEAA review in order to reduce the level of scrutiny it will receive; amendments provide explicit legislative authority for such limitations. Another change exempts numerous infrastructure projects that receive federal funding, such as roads and railway lines, from environmental review. Reviews of energy projects are reassigned from the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency to either the National Energy Board or the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission; both are centres of technical expertise in their respective sectors, but neither has previously been tasked to review projects in light of all of Canada’s federal statutes, as had the CEAA. (Visit source)

  326. Researchers preparing a report on Canada's biodiversity for the federal-provincial Canadian Council of Ministers of Natural Resources, go beyond their mandate to advise that, “The lack of… long-term, standardized, spatially complete, and readily accessible monitoring information.. in many areas has hindered development of this assessment.” (Visit source)

  327. A detailed study of federal and provincial environmental assessment policies finds little consistency across the country in either objectives or practice. Among other things, the East Coast Environmental Law Centre observes significant differences in defining the environment, in what projects trigger an assessment, what categories of impact must be assessed, and in opportunity for public input. The report finds weaknesses in most provincial reviews, with only three provinces and the three territories specifying that all a project’s social, economic, cultural and cumulative impacts need to be assessed, and only one province that explicitly applies a sustainability test to project assessments. It is pessimistic about harmonizing federal and provincial approaches in a seamless way. (Visit source)

  328. A joint federal-provincial working group assigned to study the health of Canadian ecosystems reports that the nation's environmental monitoring is insufficient to do the job. "Information critical to the assessment of ecosystem health is missing," the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment states. The report is released on a Friday without media notice. (Visit source)

  329. A report by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans on the country’s three major coastlines finds that marine mammals (seals and whales) once hunted to near extinction are recovering in all of the Pacific, Atlantic and Arctic Oceans. It is a rare positive trend however. All three oceans are also becoming more acidic, and experiencing an increase in contamination with complex industrial and pharmaceutical compounds. Mercury is on the rise in the Arctic Ocean; ‘hypoxic’ dead zones are appearing off both Pacific and Atlantic coasts. Commercial fish stocks have collapsed on the east and west coasts, and on both fish mortality has increased while the average size of fish (of the same age and species) has declined. The report warns that “non-linear responses, unexpected impacts and … tipping points,” loom for marine ecosystems, but that a “lack of consistent biodiversity monitoring, analytical tools, information systems, and reporting makes it difficult to deliver a national-scale ecosystem assessment.” (Visit source)

  330. Parliament learns that the federal government has been unable to accurately track environmental impacts from oil sands development in Alberta for at least the last 10 years. "For over a decade, Environment Canada and Fisheries and Oceans Canada have warned that key environmental information regarding the effects of oil sands projects has been missing,” Federal Environment Commissioner Scott Vaughan reports. “Since 1999, both federal departments have warned that insufficient environmental information makes it impossible to understand the combined impact of projects in the lower Athabasca region and the impact on ecosystems that are farther away, including the wider Mackenzie Basin of the Northwest Territories. In the absence of this information, it is impossible to track environmental changes over time. We found that, despite repeated warnings… little was done for almost a decade to close many of those key information gaps." (Visit source)

  331. A review of federal enforcement of a variety of environmental laws by an independent non-profit group finds that actions such as warnings, remediation orders and fines, show “a consistent decline” since 2005, “despite an increase in the number of enforcement officers.” Few investigations lead to convictions (about 20 a year under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act), with fines averaging less than $11,000 per offence. The study by Ecojustice, a law-oriented environmental group, also faults the federal government for failing to provide consistent or timely information about its enforcement effort, or the location and nature of offences. (Visit source)

  332. Canada's northernmost science post, on Ellesmere Island, will close, its lead scientist announces, after Ottawa withdraws $1.5 million a year in support. The uniquely located Polar Environment Atmospheric Research Laboratory (PEARL), at Eureka, Nunavut, had been contributing observations since 2005 to international studies of climate change and arctic pollution. (Visit source)

  333. The federal budget cuts $60 million from Environment Canada's resources for "protecting the environment, conserving the country's natural heritage, and providing weather and meteorological information to keep Canadians informed and safe"--in the words of the agency's online profile. The cuts result in the loss of 700 science, technical and support staff. (Visit source)

  334. The omnibus federal budget withdraws funding from the Experimental Lakes Area (ELA), a unique region in northwestern Ontario where scientists can conduct experiments on the scale of a small watershed that they cannot perform anywhere else. The facility played a key role in demonstrating the effects of acid rain. The announcement of its closure, at a saving of $2.5 million a year, ignites a storm of scientific and public protest and a campaign to save the unique outdoor laboratory. (Visit source)

  335. The omnibus Jobs and Growth (budget) Act amends and renames the former Navigable Waters Protection Act as the Navigation Protection Act, dropping 99.9 per cemt of Canada's rivers and 99.7 per cent of lakes larger than three square kilometres from its coverage. Shoreline owners on unprotected waterways are now free to install docks or other obstructions without notifying the federal government. The Minister of Transportation may no longer order such obstructions to be removed. On major waterways no longer covered under the new Act, it becomes the obligation of the public, municipalities or provinces to enforce the right of navigation, a federal Constitutional responsibility, by taking offenders to court. (Visit source)

  336. A new Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (2012) receives Royal Assent, replacing one enacted in 1992. The new CEAA-2012 mandates environmental, social and economic impact assessments for far fewer projects than its predecessor, and gives political ministers much greater discretion to decide what impacts are reviewed and by whom. It limits the ability of environmental groups to participate in review hearings. The legislation also fully transfers responsibility for the environmental assessment of pipeline projects to the National Energy Board, and of nuclear projects to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (previously these were delegated from the Canadian Environment Assessment Agency on a case-by-case basis) and allows the federal cabinet to overrule any negative recommendation that either may make. Related amendments to the Fisheries Act now require environmental reviews only when a project may impact a fish species considered important for commercial, recreation or first nations cultural purposes. (Visit source)

  337. The government announces it will spend $188.6 million over the next six years to build, equip and operate a Canadian High Arctic Research Station (CHARS) at Cambridge Bay in Nunavut. The announcement envisions a “world class” $142 million facility that will attract international scientists to study the Arctic environment and develop technology suitable for the high north. The new lab will be sited more than a thousand kilometers south of the PEARL outpost on Ellesmere Island, slated for closure. (Visit source)

  338. The government announces $5 million to maintain Canada's northernmost research lab for another five years. The Polar Environment Atmospheric Research Laboratory (PEARL) in Eureka, Nunavut, a latitude of 80 degrees north, is 1,300 kilometres north of a new High Arctic research station the federal government is building in Cambridge Bay, Nunavut—roughly the difference in latitude between Toronto and Atlanta, Ga. (Visit source)

  339. The federal government dissolves the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy--an independent, non-partisan, multi-sector advisory panel to Parliament created in 1989. (Visit source)

  340. The Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development, an independent officer of the federal Auditor General, finds that Canada is making little progress toward meeting 20-year old commitments under the U.N. Convention on Biodiversity. After releasing an initial ecosystems status and trends report in 2010, Environment Canada discontinued its role in establishing a biodiversity baseline and ecosystem health monitoring capability. No further reports are forthcoming, and the department “has not set out what it plans” to do instead to ensure national implementation of the Convention's intended protection for species facing extinction. As a result, the Commissioner notes, “it is not clear how Canada will meet its biodiversity targets by 2020.” (Visit source)

  341. The Commissioner of the Environment finds that Environment Canada has achieved good success in protecting migratory waterfowl (largely ducks and geese significant to hunters) but has largely failed other migratory birds that Canada has also committed to protect. “[S]ome of these bird populations—such as shorebirds, grassland birds, and even more dramatically, aerial insectivores that depend on flying insects for food—are in major decline,” the report notes. Fewer than half of 25 Bird Conservation Region Strategies, setting actions and objectives for different migratory bird groups, that the department had committed to complete by 2010, are done as of July, 2013. Those that are, “do not identify who should contribute to the proposed actions, timelines, and required resources.” Meanwhile, Environment Canada’s own “scientific review found that for 30 percent of all bird species in Canada, monitoring is insufficient to determine whether they are at risk.” (Visit source)

  342. The Commissioner of the Environment reports that Environment Canada is not meeting its responsibility to properly monitor and plan for the protected areas it manages. There are 54 of these, but the Commissioner notes the agency has developed plans to manage only 46; three-quarters of the plans date to before the Species At Risk Act came into force in 2003. In 2011, the department itself judged 90 per cent of its plans to be inadequate. The agency is also operating in the dark, the Commissioner found: “Environment Canada has made little progress in monitoring activities, conditions, and threats for the protected areas it manages. The Department’s own assessments show a lack of proper inventories and insufficient information on species at risk. Monitoring of sites is done sporadically. Without regular monitoring, the Department cannot track whether the ecological integrity in protected areas is changing, nor can it identify any new or potential threats to local species so that it can react in an appropriate and timely manner.” (Visit source)

  343. The Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development reports to Parliament that Environment Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, and Parks Canada have failed to meet targets legally mandated in the Species At Risk Act (SARA) to establish recovery strategies for threatened species. Five years after a previous audit, they have made varying degrees of progress, but as of April 2013, 146 recovery strategies were incomplete and only seven of 97 required action plans were in place. Nearly half the mandated plans for species of special concern are incomplete. “Fisheries and Oceans Canada and Parks Canada have made notable progress,” on their share of the plans, the report says, but Environment Canada lags, with 84 per cent of its unfinished plans more than three years overdue. Of the strategies that have been completed nearly half fail to identify the at-risk species’ critical habitat. (Visit source)

  344. Under the new Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (2012) only development projects designated by the Minister of Environment or in a category listed in something called the ‘Regulations Designating Physical Activities’ (RDPA) require a federal environmental impact review. Changes to the latter list add some categories of project, and remove a larger number of others. Bridges across the St, Lawrence Seaway are added, new oil sands processing facilities are removed from the list requiring impact assessments. (Visit source)

  345. Ninety per cent of 4,000 Canadian federal government scientists surveyed say they feel they are not allowed to speak freely to the media about their work. Faced with a government decision that could harm public health, safety, or the environment, 86 per cent felt they would encounter censure or retaliation for speaking to the media about it. (Visit source)

  346. Certain types of development are subject to screening under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA-2012). When that happens, regulations describe the information that a project proponent must provide to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency. Regulations setting these requirements out under the new 2012 version of the CEAA drop much of the information required under the former Act. They give the Agency 10 days to determine whether it has received the mandated information, then another 45 (including 20 in which the public may comment) to decide whether the project warrants an environmental assessment. (Visit source)

  347. Canadian insurance executives warn a conference on business and environmental sustainability that Canada is doing little to anticipate extreme weather, leaving the country vulnerable to high costs when disaster eventually strikes. Catastrophic losses to weather events reached a record $3.2 billion in Canada in 2013, said Mary Lou O'Reilly, senior vice president of communications with the Insurance Bureau of Canada, several times higher than averages of about $400 million a year from 1983 to the early 2000s. Said Robert Wesseling, executive vice president of Co-operators Insurance: "We need to adapt to our future environment or we will suffer the economic costs." (Visit source)

  348. The non-profit Winnipeg-based independent International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) signs an agreement to assume responsibility for the Experimental Lakes Area (ELA), a unique collection of small research lakes in northwestern Ontario, from the federal government. Annual federal funding of $2.5 million for the ELA was cancelled in 2012. (Visit source)

  349. The Federal Court revokes the project licence for nuclear power generators under reconstruction at Darlington, Ontario. The Court rules that a joint review panel that examined the project's environmental impact between 2006 and 2011 failed to consider how its highly toxic waste would safely be disposed of. The court orders that parts of the environmental assessment be re-done. (Visit source)

  350. Experts find they don’t know enough to say whether hydro-fracturing (fracking) in gas fields is safe for the environment. At the federal government’s request, a blue-ribbon panel organized by the non-partisan Council of Canadian Academies of science studied the impact of shale gas produced by fracking. It reports that the question is hard to answer, “because the relevant data have not been obtained” by authorities, or are not publicly available. “Risk to potable groundwater exists” from poorly sealed or old wells, the experts add, but these “are not being systematically monitored.” (Visit source)

  351. In “Canada in a Changing Climate,” the federal government confirms that trends observed in its only previous such report, in 2008, continue. Canada is getting warmer and wetter—although droughts can still occur; big storms are more common; ice and snow are melting pretty much everywhere. “Further changes in climate are inevitable,” the 300-page report states, “even with aggressive.. mitigation efforts.” It won’t be all bad. Farming can look forward to a “likely modest increase in .. production,” with longer summers but less reliable weather; fishers may need to harvest different species in new places, but the government forecasts an overall increase in the “total biomass” of landed fish. On the other hand, resource industries like forestry or mining exposed to the vagaries of weather may face more interruptions. The report’s authors say little is known about the knock-on effects of a changing climate on other business conditions such as consumer demand, supply chains, real estate assets, or legal liability. They add that they can find “relatively few examples of concrete, on-the-ground adaptation measures being implemented specifically to reduce [Canadian] vulnerability to projected changes in climate.” (Visit source)

  352. The Parliamentary Secretary to the federal Minister of Environment announces that the department will spend $2.7 million on a variety of climate-change research. That amount is approximately one-seventh of the $20 million the government has budgeted to provide personal security to Prime Minister Stephen Harper. (Visit source)

  353. Contractors break ground for a new $188.6 million federal science and technology research lab in the high Arctic at Cambridge Bay, Nunavut. It is expected to open in 2017. (Visit source)

  354. Public Attitudes Towards Climate Change & Other Environmental Issues across Time and Countries, 1993-2010. Tom Smith, NORC, University of Chicago, 2013. (Visit source)

  355. “No matter what they say, no country is going to take actions that are going to deliberately destroy jobs and growth in their country. We are just a little more frank about that,” Prime Minister Stehen Harper, reported in The Globe and Mail. (Visit source)

  356. Jan Burck, Franziska Marten, and Christoph Bals. “Climate Change Performance Index, 2014” German Watch, Bonn, and Climate Action Network, Brussels. 2014. (Visit source)

  357. "Environic Focus Canada, 2007." Canadian Opinion Research Network Archive, Queens University, Kingston, ON. (Visit source)

  358. "Environic Focus Canada, 2009." Canadian Opinion Research Network Archive, Queens University, Kingston, ON. (Visit source)

  359. "Environics Environmental Monitor, 1989-4." Canadian Opinion Research Network Archive, Queens University, Kingston, ON. (Visit source)

  360. "Environics Environmental Monitor, 2001-1." Canadian Opinion Research Network Archive, Queens University, Kingston, ON. (Visit source)

  361. “Canadians on People and Their Natural Environment.” Environics Institute for Trudeau Foundation an Universite du Quebec a Montreal. 2013 (Visit source)

  362. "Blue-Green Algae (Cyanobacteria) and Their Toxins." Health Canada (Visit source)

  363. Erica Rex. “Harmful algae blooms increase as water warms in the world's major lakes.” E&E News, Jan. 8, 2013. (Visit source)

  364. “Canada in a Changing Climate: Sector Perspectives on Impacts and Adaptation.” Government of Canada. 2014 (Visit source)

  365. “Canadian biodiversity: ecosystem status and trends 2010.” Federal, Provincial and Territorial Governments of Canada. 2010 (Visit source)

  366. Bob Sandford. “Lake Winnipeg: Canada’s Great Dead Zone.” Water Canada Magazine December 5, 2011. (Visit source)

  367. Ralph Pentland and Chris Wood. "Down the Drain: How We Are Failing to Protect Our Water Resources." Greystone, 2013. (Visit source)

  368. Susanna Capelouto and Mark Morgen. “400,000 in Toledo, Ohio, water scare await test results.” CNN. Aug. 3, 2014. (Visit source)

  369. Jay Rankin. “Algae bloom concerns prompt Pelee Island warning.” Windsor Star. Aug. 28., 2014. (Visit source)

  370. Water Today (Visit source)

  371. “State of the science of endocrine disrupting chemicals – 2012.” World Health Organization/United Nations Environmental Program. 2013. (Visit source)

  372. Theo Colborn and Lynn E. Carroll. “Pesticides, Sexual Development, Reproduction, and Fertility: Current Perspective and Future Direction.” Human and Ecological Risk Assessment Journal. Sept 1., 2007. (Visit source)

  373. “Congenital Abnormalities in Canada 2013: A Perinatal Health Surveillance Report.” Public Health Agency of Canada. Sept. 2013. (Visit source)

  374. Karen Kidd et al. “Collapse of a fish population after exposure to a synthetic estrogen.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, May, 2007. (Visit source)

  375. Merih Otker Uslu, Nihar Biswas and Saad Jasim. “Chemicals Of Emerging Concern In The Great Lakes Region.” University Of Windsor and The International Joint Commission. Sept. 2011. (Visit source)

  376. “The Potential Effects of Contaminants on Fraser River Salmon.” The Cohen Commission of Inquiry into the Decline of Sockeye Salmon in the Fraser River. Aug., 2011. (Visit source)

  377. “Presence and Levels of Priority Pesticides in Selected Canadian Aquatic Ecosystems.” Environment Canada. March, 2011. (Visit source)

  378. The Expert Panel On The Integrated Testing Of Pesticides. “Integrating Emerging Technologies Into Chemical Safety Assessment.” The Council Of Canadian Academies. 2012 (Visit source)

  379. National Air Pollutant Emissions. Environment Canada. 2014 (Visit source)

  380. Jane Kirk et al. “Atmospheric Deposition of Mercury and Methylmercury to Landscapes and Waterbodies of the Athabasca Oil Sands Region.” Environmental Science and Technology Journal. May 29, 2014 (Visit source)

  381. Joshua Kurek et al. “Legacy of a half century of Athabasca oil sands development recorded by lake ecosystems.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. January, 2013. (Visit source)

  382. Marla Cone “Dozens of Words for Snow, None for Pollution.” Mother Jones. January/February, 2005 (Visit source)

  383. Marc Montgomery. “Soot from Canadian wildfires increases melting on Greenland.” Radio Canada International. Sept. 25, 2014 (Visit source)

  384. “Smoke from Canadian wildfires observed in Europe.” Science Daily. July 12, 2013 (Visit source)

  385. "Summary of the Clean Water Act." Environmental Protection Agency of the United States of America. (Visit source)

  386. "Summary of the Clean Air Act." Environmental Protection Agency of the United States of America. (Visit source)

  387. Melody Petersen. “The Lost Boys of Aamjiwnaang.” Men’s Health. Nov. 5, 2009. (Visit source)

  388. Randy Boswell. “Canada’s favourite icons? Yes to beavers, no to Justin Bieber: poll.” Canada.com. June 29, 2012. (Visit source)

  389. Alexis Morgan. “Environment.” Canadian Index of Wellbeing. April, 2011. (Visit source)

  390. Backgrounder. Ecojustice. May, 2012. (Visit source)

  391. Backgrounder. Ecojustice. Oct., 2012. (Visit source)

  392. UNESCO. (Visit source)

  393. Canadian Marine Ecosystem Status and Trends. Fisheries and Oceans Canada. Oct., 2010. (Visit source)

  394. Gloria Galloway. “Canada lags in protecting oceans: report.” The Globe and Mail. June 2, 2014. (Visit source)

  395. “The Lost Decade” Ecojustice. Jan 2010. (Visit source)

  396. Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre Inc. (Visit source)

  397. Personal communication: Hon. Michael MIltonberger, Minister of Environment and Natural Resources, Government of the Northwest Territories. See also: Brian Clark Howard. “Drunken Trees: Dramatic Signs of Climate Change.” National Geographic. Apr. 17, 2014. (Visit source)

  398. L.C. Smith et al. “Disappearing Arctic Lakes” Science 3, June, 2005. (Visit source)

  399. Personal communiciation: Dr. Richard Hebda, Royal B.C. Museum.

  400. “Caribou habitat in Alberta ravaged beyond repair.” The Canadian Press. Aug. 25, 2014 (Visit source)

  401. Jim Prentice, Minister of the Environment. “Environment Canada 2009–2010 Estimates: Report on Plans and Priorities.” Government of Canada. (No date.) (Visit source)

  402. Science, technology and innovation expenditure by states; database. UNESCO Institute for Statistics. (Visit source)

  403. Michael Den Tandt. “‘Use It Or Lose It’ — Harper’s Arctic Strategy More Than Just A Political Gambit.” National Post. August 24, 2014. (Visit source)

  404. "Groundwater Issues and Research in Canada." Canadian Geoscience Council. (Visit source)

  405. "An Assessment of Flood Risk Management in Canada." Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction. (Visit source)

  406. "At a Watershed: Ecological Governance and Sustainable Water Management in Canada." The POLIS Project on Ecological Governance. (Visit source)

  407. "Waterproof2: Canada's Drinking Water Report Card." Sierra Legal Defence Fund. (Visit source)

  408. "Toward a Vision and Strategy for Water Management in Canada." Pollution Probe. (Visit source)

  409. "Navigating the Shoals: Assessing Water Governance and Managament in Canada." Conference Board of Canada. (Visit source)

  410. "Great Lakes Blueprint." The Canadian Environmental Law Association, Canadian Institute for Environmental Law and Policy, EcoJustice (formerly Sierra Legal), Environmental Defence, Great Lakes United, Sierra Club of/du Canada. (Visit source)

  411. "The Sustainable Management of Groundwater in Canada." Council of Canadian Academies. (Visit source)

  412. "Seeking Water Justice: Strengthening Legal Protection for Canada’s Drinking Water." Walter and Duncan Gordon Foundation. (Visit source)

  413. "Canadian biodiversity: ecosystem status and trends 2010." Canadian Council of Ministers of Natural Resources. (Visit source)

  414. "Changing Currents: Water Sustainability and the Future of Canada’s Natural Resources Sectors." National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy. (Visit source)

  415. "Getting tough on environmental crime? Holding the Government of Canada to Account on Environmental Enforcement." Ecojustice. (Visit source)

  416. “Factual Record: Ontario Logging Submissions (SEM-02-001) & (SEM-04-006).” Commission for Environmental Cooperation. (Visit source)

  417. NAFTA Commission Confirms Canadian Failure To Enforce Wildlife Law Against Logging Companies (Visit source)

  418. "Focus on Canada 2013." Environics. (Visit source)

  419. Shawn McCarthy. “Harper calls climate regulations on oil and gas sector ‘crazy economic policy’.” The Globe And Mail, Dec. 09 2014. (Visit source)

  420. "Greenhouse Gas Emission Data." Environment Canada (Visit source)

  421. “PM: Dion's carbon tax would 'screw everybody'” CBC News, Jun. 20, 2008. (Visit source)

  422. Aaron Wherry. “Policy Alert.” Maclean’s, Apr. 6, 2011 (Visit source)

  423. Rory Carroll and Valerie Volcovici. “Quebec set to launch carbon market with first permit auction.” Reuters. Dec. 2, 2013. (Visit source)

  424. Andrew Leach. “How Canada’s incoherence on climate is killing Keystone.” Maclean’s. Apr. 23, 2014. (Visit source)

  425. Shawn McCarthy. “Ottawa fights EU's dirty fuel label on oil sands.” The Globe and Mail, Mar. 27, 2011. (Visit source)

  426. “A History of the Battle Against the Mountain Pine Beetle.” BC Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations. May 28, 2012. (Visit source)

  427. Ralph Pentland. “Public Trust Doctrine: Potential in Canadian Water and Environmental Management.” POLIS, University of Victoria, June, 2009. (Visit source)

  428. Chris Wood. Dry Spring: The Coming Water Crisis of North America. Raincoast. 2008.

  429. “Enactment of the Federal Law on Environmental Liability in Mexico.” Jones Day Publications, June 2013 (Visit source)

  430. Kimberly Shearon and Margot Venton. “The right to a healthy environment.” Ecojustice. 2014. (Visit source)

  431. Chris Wood and Hans Schreier. "Better by the Drop: Revealing the value of water in Canadian agriculture." Blue Economy Initiative. 2013. (Visit source)