Sierra Club of Canada - Rio Report Card


.PROVINCIAL & TERRITORIAL - 1997


Yukon
Northwest Territories
British Columbia
Alberta
Saskatchewan
Manitoba
Ontario
Quebec
Québec (version française)
New Brunswick
Nova Scotia
Prince Edward Island
Newfoundland



NEWFOUNDLAND

Climate Change D
Biodiversity D


Climate Change:

1993 Grade: F
1994 Grade: F
1995 Grade: F
1996 Grade: D-
1997 Grade: D

Greenhouse gas emissions (kilotonnes)
1990: 9,090
1995: 8,060
Decrease: -12.8

The emissions picture looks good so far for Newfoundland, but Hibernia and Terra Nova are not yet on stream. Projections by Natural Resources Canada show energy-related emissions increasing more than 39 per cent between 2000 and 2020. As yet, there are no discussions within the Newfoundland government on how these increases will be handled. In fact, there is a view that Newfoundland does not even "own" these emissions as the Supreme Court has ruled that the Grand Banks are federal lands. In a carbon reduction world, where, who owns emissions is critical, these kinds of allocation questions can be expected to lead to heated negotiations.

The province's grade improves marginally this year because it has at least provided a submission to the Voluntary Challenge and Registry. While not detailed, the four-page submission does outline a program of institutional building retrofits in the health and education sectors, as well as some innovative design criteria for government buildings.

The Voisey's Bay nickel development will require up to 200 MW of power and generating capacity must be expanded to meet the demand. Proposals from the private sector to generate this supply have been sought and announcements will be made this June. Possibilities include: combined cycle fuel oil with cogeneration (Come-By-Chance refinery), wind, small-scale hydro and light fuel oil combined cycle. These are considered positive: on the negative side, traditional heavy oil steam generation also is being considered.


Biodiversity:

(not graded in 1993 or 1994)
1995 Grade: D-
1996 Grade: F
1997 Grade: D

The Newfoundland government has brought up its grade from last year due to a number of small steps toward the completion of its protected areas plan. But it should be made clear that these improvements are against a backdrop of unsustainable rates of logging, unsustainable fishing, the Star Lake Hydro project and its destruction of habitat for the endangered pine marten and pro-development pressures in the Voisey's Bay project. Newfoundland still lacks endangered species legislation and the proposed federal Bill, Bill C-65 which died on the Order Paper in April, would have done nothing for most of the endangered species in Newfoundland.

In the plus column, is active government consideration of a formal commitment to ecological and wildlife reserves in the Little Grand Lake area. A critical test of the government's commitment to biodiversity will be seen in their willingness to implement the entire recommendations as developed by the Western Newfoundland Model Forest. The province must refuse to allow the mining lobby to weaken it.

Despite promising noises from Premier Brian Tobin, the creation of a national park in Labrador in the Torngat Mountains remains unfulfilled. A feasibility study for the proposed Mealy Mountains National Park is also urgently needed and supported by the Innu Nation.

NOVA SCOTIA

Climate Change D+
Biodiversity F
Toxic Chemicals/ Pollution C



Climate Change:

1993 Grade: not graded
1994 Grade: F
1995 Grade: D+
1996 Grade: D-
1997 Grade: D+

Greenhouse gas emissions:
1990: 18,800
1995: 18,600
Decrease: -1.1%

Nova Scotia's grade improves slightly in recognition of the initiatives outlined in its Action Plan, particularly with respect to the use of energy service companies to retrofit publicly owned buildings, its energy management activities in public housing, and its planned efforts to gain support for adopting the New Code for Buildings and Houses. Support for wood residue fired co-generation in Liverpool that will sell 22 MW of electricity to Nova Scotia Power and 30 MW of heat to a neighboring paper mill, as well as construction later this year of a 50 kW wind mill are also positive.

On the negative side of the ledger, support for the Sable Island natural gas project will increase Nova Scotia's greenhouse gas emissions at the point of production. Natural Resources Canada projects an increase in energy-related carbon dioxide emissions of 14.9 per cent between 2000 and 2020. There is potential to use natural gas to re-power the Trenton coal-fired thermal power plant which would reduce carbon dioxide emissions considerably (as well as improve local air quality). Nova Scotia Power, however, has yet to commit to purchasing the gas, and until it does, no commitments will be made to construct a lateral pipeline to the plant.

Once governments move to legally binding commitments on climate change, which is likely after the December Conference of the Parties meeting in Kyoto, Japan, emissions become an increasing liability; a liability that could cost money as governments and companies are forced to either reduce emissions or to buy credits in order to emit more greenhouse gases. Fuel switching to natural gas from coal, bunker C and fuel oil could reduce Nova Scotia's emissions if upstream production emissions are controlled.

Nova Scotia remains one of only two provinces (British Columbia is the other) committed to stabilizing its own emissions by the year 2000.
Biodiversity:

1993 Grade: not graded
1994 Grade: F
1995 Grade: D
1996 Grade: B-
1997 Grade: F


After being lauded by national environmental groups for its Protected Area Strategy in 1996, including receiving an "A" in the World Wildlife Fund's Endangered Spaces Report Card, the Nova Scotia government has reversed progress through some spectacularly anti-environmental and anti-democratic backsliding. Last year, Nova Scotia set aside 31 sites for protected status, bringing to 8% the area of Nova Scotia's total land base which has received protection.

After twenty-six public meetings through January and February, attendance by over 2,000 individuals and over 300 written submissions, the government of Nova Scotia accepted the recommendations of its Public Review Committee.

At the time the Parks and Protected Areas Plan was announced, former Minister of Natural Resources, The Hon. Don Downe, described the 31 candidate sites as Nova Scotia's "most outstanding natural areas." In the government news release, former Premier John Savage was quoted as saying that the systems plan "will be a cornerstone of the government's objective to achieve sustainability of natural resources." (March 31, 1994). Further the Premier said, "Parks and protected areas are one of the greatest legacies we can leave for our children and for future generations."

In early December of 1996, the N.S. Cabinet pulled a protected area adjacent to the Cape Breton Highlands National Park, the Jim Campbells Barren, from protection. Former Premier John Savage explained that there was the potential for a gold mine in the area and that the possibility of jobs outweighed the benefits of protected status. Natural Resources Minister Eleanor Norrie quoted the public report which had said that mineral rights "should be recognized while they are in good standing." She omitted the next phrase: "however, every effort should be made to negotiate termination of existing licences and leases wherever possible and practical."

The Jim Campbells Barren had been selected as one of the most significant areas for protection. The government report noted that the Jim Campbells Barren "is an outstanding landscape feature of provincial significance" with an "ecologically-distinct wetland/barren/coniferous forest mosaic." The report noted that "no other wetland/barren/forest complexes of equal quality were identified within this landscape", and that the area "is one of the few remaining ecologically-intact, forested corridors between the Western Steep Slopes Natural Landscape and the Interior Steep Slopes Natural Landscape."

In addition to being adjacent to a national park, and thus inappropriate for mining activity under the terms of the Biodiversity Convention, the Barrens are in the headwaters of two important salmon rivers on Cape Breton Island, the Margaree and the Cheticamp Rivers.

In stark contrast to the extensive public consultation that took place prior to committing to a moratorium on economic activities in the protected areas, there was no consultation in advance of the Cabinet's decision to remove Jim Campbells Barren from protected status. It is hard to believe that any government would sacrifice the credibility of its entire protected areas plan in such a high-handed and cavalier fashion.

The Cabinet decision is further clouded by the unusually high level of activity in shares of stock in Regal Goldfields Ltd., the major beneficiary of the decision to open the Barrens to mineral exploration and mining. Between the time the Cabinet decision was made and when it was publicly announced, there was unprecedented share activity. This is currently the subject of an Ontario Securities Commission review.

The reversal of protected status for the Jim Campbells Barren was not an anomalous exception to decisions in Nova Scotia this year. Dredging of the St. Anns Channel was allowed, despite concerns of local oyster growers and tourist operators. Increasingly, the mining development pressures from the Department of Natural Resources are overwhelming other aspects of government policy.


Toxic Chemicals/ Pollution:

1994 Grade: F
1995 Grade: -
1996 Grade: F
1997 Grade: C

The grade has risen, perhaps too charitably, but recognition must be made of the province's decision to abandon its scheme for burial of the Sydney Tar Ponds. At this time last year, the provincial government was wedded to what it euphemistically described as "the encapsulation option", proposing to bury an enormous area, creek and tidal estuary in slag from the old steel mill. The Tar Ponds contain 700,000 tons of toxic sludge, with a significant amount of PAH contamination, plus at least 45,000 tons of PCBs. The Sydney area has a cancer rate twice the national average.

In large measure thanks to the intervention of former Federal Environment Minister Sergio Marchi, the provincial government dropped its burial plan last August. Credit must also go to Public Works Minister Don Downe who replaced Gerald O'Malley, his predecessor who unveiled the burial scheme last year. Instead, three levels of government -- municipal, provincial and federal -- committed to working in an open and transparent fashion with the local community to identify clean-up solutions. The multi-stakeholder body, the Joint Action Group, has been meeting ever since with substantial volunteer time and effort from local residents. Unfortunately, the sense of urgency which should guide the process is lacking. Governments appear content with a two-year consultation process before actual clean-up can start. This is simply unacceptable with the extent of public health risks to which a large community is being exposed.

NEW BRUNSWICK

Climate Change C-
Biodiversity F


Climate Change:

1993 Grades: not graded
1994 Grade: C
1995 Grade: C+
1996 Grade: D
1997 Grade: C-

Greenhouse gas emissions
1990: 15,300
1995: 17,000
Increase: 11.1%

New Brunswick's grade improved this year because initiatives aimed at building retrofits in provincial buildings and schools are on track, for its commitment to Destination Conservation, and for its Industrial Cogeneration Policy.

The Provincial Buildings Initiative (PBI) aims to retrofit all government buildings. According to the province's Voluntary Challenge and Registry submission, the program is expected to achieve $7 million in annual energy savings with a $45 million private sector investment (energy performance contracting involves financing by an energy service company; financing is paid from the energy savings). All nine community colleges are involved in the program with energy savings expected to exceed the 20 per cent goal.

New Brunswick's commitment to Destination Conservation, a three-year school program that focuses on waste, water and energy, is of particular note. Destination Conservation schools commit to reducing carbon dioxide emissions 20 percent over the three years. To date, 28 schools are involved in the program. An upcoming request for proposals on school retrofits will include the requirement for the energy service company to work with Destination Conservation.

With respect to cogeneration, New Brunswick has a policy that any new generation should first come from cogeneration and independent power producers. The policy did allow for one 38 MW cogeneration project with Fraser Inc. in Edmunston to go forward. A current surplus of electricity means the policy isn't influencing any new supply at the moment. As long as New Brunswick Power maintains a monopoly over electricity production, the policy is important. As the province moves toward a more competitive electricity market, cogeneration will increasingly move into the market, making the policy less important.

Areas of concern include: the province's failure to halt the shift from rail to road for freight: emissions are up 20 percent over 1990 levels, and increased competition in the electricity sector. Unless New Brunswick Power commits to purchasing natural gas from Sable Island, any increase in electricity exports to New England could come at the expense of higher carbon dioxide emissions from burning more coal and oil. To date, only Irving Oil has indicated a substantial interest in natural gas.

Any further deterioration of the Lepreau nuclear station also will contribute increased emissions from the power generation sector. Carbon dioxide emissions skyrocketed 23 percent between 1994 and 1995 while Lepreau was out of commission for repairs. Decommissioning the nuclear plant could lead to further increases in emissions. New Brunswick must commit to minimizing the impact through re-powering with natural gas, and investments in energy efficiency and alternative energy.


Biodiversity:

1993 Grade: F
1994 Grade: C
1995 Grade: F
1996 Grade: D
1997 Grade: F

Last year, the Sierra Club of Canada awarded New Brunswick a passing grade on biodiversity on the strength of changes in taxation policy aimed at reducing "liquidation cuts" in privately owned forests. Unfortunately, the provincial government announced, on the very day that the Rio Report Card was released, that approval had been granted for placing the extension of the Trans-Canada Highway through the province's largest wetland. Understandably, provincial environmental groups were distressed that a national environmental organization would confer a passing grade on a government building a major highway through a wetland. One year later, Sierra Club wishes to make it clear that had the commitment to the highway been made before the report card was released, the province would have received a failing mark. To take into account the decision to build the highway through the Grand Lake Meadows, this year, New Brunswick receives an "F."

The Grand Lake Meadows are one of the province's most critical wetlands. At 5,000 hectares, it is also the province's largest freshwater wetland. Despite the fact that federal land is involved, (a portion of the highway requires DND land from Camp Gagetown), there has been no federal environmental assessment under CEAA. The province is currently tendering contracts for the construction.

Other problems noted in past report cards continue. Rockweed harvest is still being allowed; no new regulations have been brought forward under the provincial Endangered Species Act; and the rate of establishing protected areas is unacceptably slow.


In this last year, the provincial civil servants in the Department of Natural Resources and Energy completed a protected areas system plan. Rather than act upon it, the government ignored it and appointed Dr. Louis Lapierre of the University of Moncton to develop a systems plan from scratch. Dr. Lapierre also acts on behalf of Regal Goldfields Ltd. on the Jim Campbells Barren issue in Cape Breton, thus potentially reducing his credibility on protected areas issues.

Logging is still continuing in the Christmas Mountains in the north-central part of the province. Repap has indicated that the Nalaisk and Serpentine Mountains are not on the cut plans for the next five years. But opportunities to create viable wilderness protection in this last large area of New Brunswick old growth forest are disappearing. Logging activity is concentrating in the area south of the Naliaisk and Serpentine peaks, threatening them with ecological island status. Substantial wildlife corridors are required from the Naliaisk, Serpentine and Dasher Mountains south to the Logan Lake Study area.

The only steps toward protected areas this year came in the coastal areas. The province's Department of Municipalities, Culture and Housing deserves credit for its Coastal Lands Policy. While this land use policy does not affect the coastal waters, it does protect important ecosystems, such as sand dunes and marshes, along the coast.

Less satisfactory are two parks along the coast. The province provided interim protection to a ribbon-like park -- 34 km long and one km wide -- to be called the Fundy Linear provincial park. However, the province still allows clear-cut logging to the border of the skinny little coastal park. Even less protection has been accorded to a "park" along the St. Croix River. The province has termed the St.Croix protection a "virtual park," as it involves no real protection. Somehow the province hopes to cobble together some protection from the Crown lands along the river, with voluntary stewardship plans on the private lands.

One potential bright spot is the province's commitment to open one of the gates on the Petitcodiac River next year on a trial basis. We can only hope that this modest experiment will lead to the permanent opening of all gates and restoration of the Petitcodiac River.

PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND

Climate Change D
Biodiversity C



Climate Change:

1993 Grade: not graded
1994 Grade: C
1995 Grade: C-
1996 Grade: D-
1997 Grade: D

Greenhouse gas emissions (kilotonnes)

1990: 1,680
1995 Grade: 1,620
Decrease: -3.7%

PEI's grade improves only slightly for at least submitting a two-page summary of emission reduction activities to the Voluntary Challenge and Registry. Many of the actions, however, have been under way for some time such as the Atlantic Wind Test Site.

The province reports that the wind turbine reduces emissions by 500 tonnes annually and that installation of an addition 10 MW would reduce carbon dioxide emissions 22,000 tonnes. The federal Government and the province are currently discussing a Letter of Intent which could contribute to these installations moving forward: it should happen and quickly.

Methane recovery installations at Cavendish Farms and McCain Foods and at the Charlottetown Area Treatment Facility are reducing emissions. The food processing plant installations are reducing fossil fuel consumption by 10 - 15 percent (methane is burned to generate electricity).

Biodiversity:

not graded in 1993, 1994
1995 Grade: B-
1996 Grade: C
1997 Grade: C

Once again the provincial mark for biodiversity is dragged down by pesticide and agricultural policies. If not for the profligate use of toxic chemicals on potato fields and the attendant negative impact on biodiversity, new student Premier Pat Binns would be at the head of the class.

On the bright side, the province had made significant progress in completing the PEI network of protected areas. Under the Natural Areas Protection Act, five new sites were created and six existing areas were expanded. The most recent protected areas are on the west end of the Island, Acadian Marshes along the Percival River and a long narrow strip along the Morell River. Two new wildlife areas were also established. The province has also committed to an ambitious program of expanded protected areas.

Also adding to a strong record is the government's tabling of a new Wildlife Conservation Act. This Bill, introduced for First Reading in April, is making its way through the Provincial legislature.
this legislation would allow for the protection of endangered species.

All of this good news is offset by a significant increase in the available pesticides for use in PEI. In the provincial manual for potato farmers the number of approved insecticides quadrupled (!) this year, and now allows such toxic and infamous chemicals as diazanon and parathion. Carbofuran is widely used. PEI is the only province in Canada where all drinking water supplies are from ground water. Recent testing of wells was inadequate, but even so, discovered levels of hexazanon in two wells.

The province allows farmers to plow right to the waters' edge, while clear-cutting of the dwindling forests remains a problem. Even the province's forest service is predicting the eradication of the Island's softwood supply.

We'd love to give the province a B+ to recognize progress. As it is, a "C" is a generous mark.

QUEBEC

Climate Change D-
Biodiversity D-


Climate Change:

1993 Grade: not graded
1994 Grade: D
1995 Grade: C+
1996 Grade: D+
1997 Grade: D-

Greenhouse gas emissions (kilotonnes)

1990: 78,800
1995: 80,300
Increase: 1.9%

Quebec's mark drops this year because it has failed to implement key recommendations of the Public Debate on Energy, and has failed to give any consideration to ecosystem or atmospheric impacts of opening its electricity market to competition. In fact, in its race to gain access to U.S. electricity markets, the Quebec government has sacrificed the democratic rights of its citizens by moving forward without public consultation.

As recommended by the Report on the Public Debate on Energy, Quebec did establish an Energy Board, but it has largely been excluded from managing the process of deregulating Quebec's electricity markets. Also, as recommended, legislation for an Energy Efficiency Agency has been tabled, but provides no new money for investment in demand side management and essentially leaves the operation in government hands - the status quo which is not expected to improve conditions for efficiency.

A 100 MW wind energy development on the Gaspe is proceeding, but Hydro Quebec's promised set-aside for wind is small and has been delayed until 2002 or later.

On a positive note, Environment Minister David Cliche is to be congratulated for taking a lead within the US/Canada Forum of Maritime Premiers and New England Governors. The Minister has successfully resurrected the Environment Committee which has potential to take a lead role in managing greenhouse gas emissions regionally. Cliche is also expected to provide leadership on climate change as Canada considers whether to sign a legally binding protocol.

On a more negative note, Hydro Quebec moves to deny access to information regarding hydro reservoir levels and public consultation on the justification for river diversions. This is particularly disturbing. Emissions in the transportation sector continue unabated with plans for legislated inspection and maintenance for vehicles dropped.

Biodiversity

1993 (not graded)
1994 Grade: D
1995 Grade: C+
1996 Grade: C+
1997 Grade: D-
The Quebec environmental network issued their own report card on a broad range of issues in February 1997. Overall, their grades for the province's performance also tumbled. The overall grade was a failing mark.

The province has abandoned concern for the state of the St. Lawrence River, where biodiversity is imperiled by toxic chemicals. The Reseau Quebecois criticized the province for leaving the St. Lawrence clean-up to the federal government.

On forests, the Quebec government has also let down the concerned environmental community. The replacement of clear-cutting with the so-called "cut with protection of regeneration and soils" is really nothing more than modified clear-cutting. In reality, the same heavy equipment does nearly the same ecological damage as under the clear-cut method of logging. The only difference between the two methods is in the fact that the cut for protection of regeneration and soils uses the same road going into log as they use to leave the site.

Logging is expanding into northern forests in traditional Cree territory. The Cree estimate that, since 1975, over 5,000 square kilometers of their lands have been clear-cut. The Cree have connected the increased rate of cutting and road building with the drastic decline in moose numbers through their lands. Moose forms an important part of the Cree diet, and hunting the moose is an integral part of their culture. In 1985, there was an estimated population of 1200 moose, prior to increased logging and road construction. In this most affected area, the moose population has dropped to fewer than 400 animals.

Despite having an endangered species act, the Quebec government has yet to extend its listing to animals. Thus far, only a few dozen plant species have been listed and provided with legal protected status. As can be expected, the Quebec government has been a vociferous opponent of effective federal endangered species legislation.

Quebec's commitment to complete its network of protected areas is also significantly in doubt. Although the province did establish a number of new ecological reserves in southern Quebec this year (Kettles-de-Berry, Dunes-de-Berry, Riviere Rouge and Charles-Banville), none of the areas identified for potential protection in northern Quebec have been acted upon. Eighteen key areas have been under interim protection for the last five years, without government action to move forward on any of them. In the same pro-development mood of Nova Scotia, Quebec removed one of its proposed ecological reserves, Matamec, from interim protection in order to allow possible mining.



QUÉBEC

Changement climatique D -
Biodiversité D -


Changement climatique
1993 : Non coté
1994 : D
1995 : C+
1996 : D+
1997 : D-
Émission de gaz à effet de serre (kilotonnes)
1990 : 78 800
1995 : 80 300
Augmentation : 1,9 %
La note du Québec diminue cette année parce que la province n'a pas mis en oeuvre des recommandations clés issues du débat public sur l'énergie et n'a pas tenu compte des répercussions qu'aurait sur l'écosystème ou l'atmosphère sa décision d'ouvrir son marché de l'électricité à la concurrence. Dans sa course vers les marchés de l'électricité des États-Unis, le gouvernement du Québec a en fait sacrifié les droits démocratiques de la population en allant de l'avant sans la consulter.
Comme on l'a recommandé dans le rapport du débat public sur l'énergie, le Québec a créé une commission de l'énergie, qui a toutefois été en grande partie exclue de la gestion du processus de réglementation des marchés de l'électricité du Québec. On a en outre déposé, conformément aux recommandations, une mesure législative qui prévoit la création d'une agence de l'efficience énergétique, mais qui ne prévoit pas d'argent frais à investir dans la gestion de la demande et en laisse essentiellement le fonctionnement entre les mains du gouvernement - c'est le statu quo qui ne devrait pas améliorer les conditions propices à l'efficience.
Un projet de mise en valeur de l'énergie éolienne de 100 MW va de l'avant en Gaspésie, mais les réserves promises par Hydro-Québec pour l'énergie éolienne sont minces et ont été reportées jusqu'en 2002 ou par la suite.
Du côté positif, il faut féliciter le ministre de l'Environnement David Cliche d'avoir joué un rôle de premier plan au Forum États-Unis-Canada des premiers ministres des provinces maritimes et des gouverneurs de la Nouvelle-Angleterre. Le ministre a réussi à relancer le Comité de l'environnement qui pourrait jouer un rôle de premier plan dans la gestion des émissions de gaz à effet de serre dans la région. Cliche devrait jouer un rôle de chef de file en ce qui concerne le changement climatique, au moment où le Canada se demande s'il doit signer un protocole qui le liera légalement.
Du côté négatif du bilan, les décisions d'Hydro-Québec de refuser de fournir des renseignements sur les niveaux des réservoirs hydroélectriques et de tenir une consultation publique sur la justification du détournement des rivières sont particulièrement troublantes. Les émissions du secteur des transports demeurent aussi importantes et l'on a laissé tomber des plans prévoyant une mesure législative sur l'inspection et l'entretien des véhicules.
Biodiversité
1993 : (non coté)
1994 : D
1995 : C+
1996 : C+
1997 : D-
Le réseau environnemental du Québec a publié son propre bilan sur toutes sortes de questions en février 1997. Dans l'ensemble, les notes qu'il a accordées au rendement de la province ont aussi dégringolé. Bilan global : c'est l'échec.
La province a cessé de se préoccuper de l'état du fleuve Saint-Laurent, où des produits chimiques toxiques mettent en danger la biodiversité. Le réseau québécois a reproché à la province d'abandonner l'assainissement du Saint-Laurent au gouvernement fédéral.
Dans le secteur forestier, le gouvernement du Canada a aussi laissé tomber la collectivité environnementale préoccupée. Le remplacement de la coupe à blanc par ce qu'on a appelé «la coupe avec protection de la régénération et des sols» n'est en fait qu'une coupe à blanc modifiée. En réalité, le même équipement lourd cause à peu près les mêmes dommages écologiques que celui qui sert à la coupe à blanc. La seule différence entre les deux méthodes, c'est que pour procéder à la coupe prévoyant la protection de la régénération et des sols, on utilise la même route pour entrer et pour sortir.
L'exploitation forestière se propage dans les forêts du Nord, en territoire cri traditionnel. Les Cris estiment que depuis 1975, on a pratiqué la coupe à blanc sur plus de 5 000 kilomètres carrés de leurs terres. Les Cris ont établi un lien entre l'augmentation de la coupe et de la construction routière et la chute draconienne du nombre d'orignaux sur leurs terres. L'orignal est un élément important de l'alimentation des Cris et la chasse de l'orignal fait partie intégrante de leur culture. En 1985, on estimait la population d'orignaux à 1 200 têtes, avant que l'exploitation forestière et la construction routière prennent de l'ampleur. Dans cette région des plus affectées, la population d'orignaux est tombée à moins de 400 têtes.
Même s'il a adopté une loi sur les espèces en péril, le gouvernement du Québec n'a pas encore établi sa liste des animaux. Jusqu'à maintenant, la liste compte à peine quelques dizaines d'espèces végétales protégées par la loi. Comme on peut s'y attendre, le gouvernement du Québec s'est opposé férocement à une mesure législative fédérale efficace sur les espèces en péril.
On doute aussi sérieusement de l'engagement qu'a pris le Québec de terminer son réseau de zones protégées. Même si la province a créé de nouvelles réserves écologiques dans le sud du Québec cette année (Kettles-de-Berry, Dunes-de-Berry, rivière Rouge et Charles-Banville), il ne s'est rien fait à l'égard d'aucune des zones à protéger éventuellement dans le nord du Québec. Dix-huit zones clés bénéficient d'une protection provisoire depuis cinq ans, mais le gouvernement n'a rien fait dans aucun de ces cas. Manifestant la même attitude favorable au développement que la Nouvelle-Écosse, le Québec a retiré une de ses réserves écologiques proposées, Matamec, de la liste des réserves bénéficiant d'une protection provisoire afin d'y permettre éventuellement l'exploitation minière.

ONTARIO

Climate Change F
Biodiversity F


Climate Change:

1993 Grade: D
1994 Grade: C
1995 Grade: C+
1996 Grade: F
1997 Grade: F

Greenhouse gas emissions (kilotonnes)
1990: 175,000
1995: 179,000
Decrease: 2.3%

As the country's largest consumer of energy, one would think that Ontario would see the advantages of reducing its energy consumption: save money, become more efficient and productive and create jobs. Unfortunately, short-sighted politicians and a bureaucracy decimated by government cutbacks are not delivering the kind of vision Ontario needs.

With rollbacks in rational land use planning, Ontario is refusing to curb automobile-dependent urban sprawl. Instead, the province is making a long-term commitment to increasing carbon dioxide emissions, acid rain-causing emissions, smog and climate change. This carbon liability will hurt the economy in the long run. Numerous studies from across North America confirm the spiraling costs and inefficiency of urban and rural sprawl. Public transit cannot possibly be efficient when communities are so spread out and street patterns are not arranged with transit riders in mind. The economy suffers further as more automobile dependence and more roads creates demand for even more roads. A 1993 study estimated that Ontario has a $9 billion accumulated debt (assuming a 40-year amortization on capital expenditures) for highway construction. This enormous subsidy to private automobiles does not include health care costs. As traffic increases, so do smog and health problems. Officials with Health Canada and Environment Canada report a direct correlation between smog events and increasing respiratory problems and hospital admissions, especially among children.

The Ontario Ministry of Transportation estimates that the social costs of automobile crashes cost Ontario about $9 billion per year in lost earning power, medical and rehabilitation costs, repair and replacement of vehicles, policing etc. All of these costs can be expected to rise in the future.

And the costs of sprawl continue. Suburban sprawl and scattered rural development leads to escalating costs for provision of hard and soft services to low-density populations. A study of the costs of sprawl in southern Ontario conservatively estimated a $1 billion per year savings in the sprawling communities surrounding Metropolitan Toronto if they adopted a more compact development pattern typical of the older, pre-1950, (and transit-supportive) neighbourhoods of just about every town and city in Ontario. Nevertheless, a current housing boom is contributing to sprawl, sprawl, sprawl, building auto-dependence out for decades into the future. Commuters can look forward to many more hours stuck in traffic.

Sprawling energy guzzling neighbourhoods soon could also use even more energy as Ontario has proposed changes to the Ontario Building Code which would reduce energy efficiency requirements in homes and buildings. Despite the fact that technical code committees have recommended that minimum insulation levels not be reduced, Minister Al Leach may instead bend to the short-term vested interests of the Greater Toronto Homebuilders Association. The Association is arguing that the efficiency requirements are adding to the cost of a home: never mind the increased costs to consumers to heat and cool their homes. If Ontario moves to a labeling system for new homes (under the guise of consumer choice) instead of mandated efficiency standards, the cost of owning a typical new Ontario home will increase between $3,000 - $15,000 depending on fuel type, over the life of a 25-year mortgage, according to the Canadian Energy Efficiency Alliance (CEAA). The CEAA calculates that the proposed reductions in efficiency levels will increase carbon dioxide emissions 75,000 tonnes per year - an extra 3.5 million tonnes between now and 2005. As these carbon dioxide emissions are coming from the burning of fossil fuels, consumers can also expect to make more trips to the hospital with their asthmatic children as there will be more smog and sulphate emissions causing respiratory problems.

Ontario could, but probably won't, contribute to long-term reductions in greenhouse gas emissions by ensuring that increased competition in the electricity sector moves forward with full consideration of the impacts on the environment. Increased competition can lead to increases in carbon dioxide emissions as the life of old, paid for, coal-fired plants is extended. Competition should go forward, but it must be combined with emission quotas. The only way forward for clean air and climate protection is elimination of coal from electricity generation. Ontario Hydro has committed to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions 10 percent by 2005. That target cannot be sacrificed for increased competition.

Ontario also gets a failing grade for the failure of its officials or its ministers to act on behalf of all Ontarians with respect to climate impacts. A recent study by Environment Canada and the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) on the impact of climate change on the Great Lakes projected declines in lake levels of up to 1 metre with serious impacts on water quality and availability. More than 43 million people rely on the Great Lakes for drinking water, transportation, tourism and electricity generation.

Despite these and other projected impacts - like an increase in heat waves and smog - Ontario, in partnership with Alberta, remains one of the most difficult provinces in the country with respect to co-operation on climate change.

Finally, Ontario fails for its cuts to its Ministry of Energy and Environment, and in particular its cuts to its energy efficiency operations.


Biodiversity:

not graded in 1993, 1994
1995 Grade: C+
1996 Grade: F
1997 Grade: F

The government of Ontario has been hostile to environmental concerns, particularly biodiversity. The summer of 1996 saw approvals for logging in the Owain Lake area of Temagami, despite acceptance by the court that there was a serious issue as to whether Ontario had violated its own environmental procedures in approving logging. The World Conservation Congress, the international meeting of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, passed a resolution calling for protection of the old growth forests of Temagami. Although Canada abstained on the vote, many nations from around the world urged protection. Ontario approved logging instead.

The decision to transfer control over Ontario's major geological feature, the Niagara Escarpment, from the Ministry of Environment and Energy to the Ministry of Natural Resources is cause for significant concern. The Niagara Escarpment is a UNESCO World Heritage site, but the Harris government has opened it up to mineral extraction. Despite a Court of Appeal ruling to the contrary, some limestone quarrying activities have taken place without permits, but with oral assurances from the Minister of Environment that the permits were not really required. The Sierra Legal Defence Fund is currently pursuing legal action on this matter.

With $100 million cut from environmental programs and 700 staff cut, it is no wonder that environmental concerns and protection of biodiversity are suffering.

However, there was one bright spot this year. The province established 27 new parks as part of the new "Nature's Best" program. This included some significant wilderness, including the 48,000 hectare Jog Lake wetland. Sadly, the Harris government has not acted to finalise protection for the 900,000 hectare Wabikimi protected area through Ontario's boreal forest.

Given the creation by the province of 27 new parks this year, Sierra Club may be criticised for giving the province a failing grade on biodiversity. However, after much deliberation, it was decided that in a year when the province approves what may have been illegal logging in an area with some of the last old growth red and white pine in North America, at Owain Lake, it is simply not possible to give a mark higher than "F". Maybe next year?


MANITOBA

Climate Change F
Biodiversity C+




Climate Change:

1993 Grade: N/A
1994 Grade: F
1995 Grade: D+
1996 Grade: D-
1997 Grade: F

Greenhouse gas emissions (kilotonnes)
1990: 17,500
1995: 17,400
Decrease: -0.6%

Manitoba just doesn't get it. With a small emissions base, electricity that's mostly hydro based, and a small decline in emissions since 1990, Manitoba politicians and officials think climate change is not their issue. Remember the flood of 1997?

Perhaps its time that Manitoba, like the rest of Canada, woke up to the real issues of climate change: impacts, not emissions.

The worst flooding to hit Manitoba in 150 years was based on a set of conditions that climate scientists say will become more common: heavy snowfall in winter, rapid warming in spring before the ground thaws which leads to rapid melting and high levels of runoff. Add these factors to an already saturated soil because of heavy rains last fall and you have a major flood situation on your hands.

The combination of urban planning that changes the hydrology of surfaces to encourage rapid runoff, destruction of wetlands and forests which decrease the ability of soils to absorb water, and allowing people to live on flood plains makes many communities vulnerable to changes in precipitation.

The Manitoba flood will cost the federal, provincial and municipal governments millions. In fact, taxpayers will carry the real burden of this and future floods. Costs to property insurers will be minimized as residential customers living on flood plains cannot buy flood insurance. Floods and forest fires increasingly cost Canadian taxpayers. Climate change will cost Canada dearly: in the pocketbook and to our health, both psychological and physical.

Manitoba needs to get to the table and quickly to defend the health, comfort and security of its citizens. The next meeting of energy and environment ministers takes place this fall in Newfoundland. The big agenda item is climate change and whether Canada should sign a legally binding protocol to reduce greenhouse gas emissions after the year 2000. Unless Manitoba wants to see more events like the flood of 1997, it needs global reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. To get those cuts, Canada must show it is serious and reduce its own emissions. Manitoba better be at the table prepared to say what it will do and ask for cooperation nationally.


Biodiversity

1993 Grade: F
1994 Grade: F
1995 Grade: F
1996 Grade: F
1997 Grade: C+

Congratulations to Premier Gary Filmon. This year the province finally broke its unbroken record of failure and actually protected some biodiversity!

In February 1997, the province announced its parks system plan which granted protection to designated areas within older provincial parks, completed protection to Atikaki and several large northern parks. Parks established prior to 1986 had been open to various resource extraction activities, including clear-cutting. Parks established during the 1990s have been off-limits to forestry and mining. A recent review of the older parks resulted in a concept found only in Manitoba -- "protected zones" within parks, with prohibitions on forestry and other activities. Forestry operations continue in portions of Grass River, Whiteshell, Nopiming, Clearwater Lake and Duck Mountain Parks. Nopoming Provincial Park, representing a unique convergence of forest ecosystems, has been heavily clearcut and was the site of protests. Access for logging to half of Duck Mountain Provincial Park continues. A significant proportion of Louisiana-Pacific's wood flakes for its Oriented Strand Board (OSB) mill will come from the aspen forests of the park. Moreover, Louisiana-Pacific's license gives the company cutting rights along the northern and western boundaries of Riding Mountain National Park. This violates the United Nations Convention for the Protection of Biodiversity, which specifically requires a transition zone as a buffer between protected areas and industrial activity. Requests for a federal environmental assessment of the impact of clear-cutting on the national park have been rejected.

Forestry operations are also threatening the health of one of Canada's National Heritage Rivers, the Bloodvein. The province is ignoring the threats posed by a poorly designed forestry road bridging the river. No environmental assessment is planned.

Unfortunately, resource extraction continues to be approved in some of the province's parks. Parks like Grass River have only 2% in protected backcountry, with the rest of the park zones for resource management and recreational activities. Obviously the province will have to find significant new protected lands in this region. In April 1997, a license was approved for a mining operation inside Nopiming Provincial Park. Oil and gas exploration is also being subsidized so Turtle Mountain Provincial Park is a target. Nevertheless, the provincial parks system now protects a much larger area, 668,000 hectares, than at this time last year.

As well, the province protected ten Wildlife Management Areas from development activities and resource extraction for a total of about 600 square kilometers. They also declared two new ecological areas, the first since 1979.

The grade of "C+" reflects the harsh reality that Manitoba still allows over-cutting of its forests, right up to the boundary of the Riding Mountain National Park, and within the boundaries of a number of provincial parks. The Pine Falls Paper Company is bragging about expansion in the media early in June, despite not having an environmental license for any increased cutting areas. Where will they get the fiber? What does the province intend on the east side of the province? Will there ever be any cumulative environmental assessment work for the operations of this company?

Moreover, Manitoba is not utilizing its endangered species act. Although six new extirpated species and two new endangered species were added to the Act in April, there has never been a prosecution under the Act. No funding is dedicated to its enforcement. No advance surveys for endangered species are required before licensing logging and mining in Manitoba. Wetlands are still being drained. Marginal lands are cleared for agriculture. Development pressures still have more clout than environmental ones. For example, the hog industry is currently being promoted with a goal of 4 million hogs by the year 2000. This industry has serious problems in pollution of ground and surface water.

Progress has been made, but more remains to be done to merit a higher grade. Logging levels must be reduced, protected areas expanded, and ecological integrity of existing parks, including the national parks, must be ensured.


SASKATCHEWAN

Climate Change D-
Biodiversity F


Climate Change:

1993 Grade: F
1994 Grade: F
1995 Grade: D
1996 Grade: F
1997 Grade: D-

Greenhouse gas emissions (kilotonnes)
1990: 38,900
1995: 47,900
Increase: 23.1%

Saskatchewan's grade improves slightly not because of its efforts to reduce emissions, but because of an increasing effort to understand the impacts of climate change in both Saskatchewan and the West.

On the emissions front, Saskatchewan leads the country in growth! Since 1990, emissions have increased more than 23 percent primarily because of expansion in the oil and gas sector and load growth in electricity. The province simply must focus more seriously on its options with respect to electricity generation. Heavy industrial users like the Lloydminster heavy oil upgrader, Saskatchewan Ferco (fertilizer) and Millar Western (pulp and paper) must move to cogeneration technology (captures waste heat to use for heating, process or electricity which increases efficiency) to reduce consumption and emissions. Energy efficiency and investments in renewable energy like biomass, wind and solar must become the top priority as Saskatchewan could face serious challenges in reducing emissions.

Last year's failing grade had much to do with the province's decision to close the Energy Authority which was making a contribution to energy efficiency in the province. This year, the province has moved to have the Saskatchewan Research Centre offer auditing services to the industrial and commercial sector. This work needs to move forward and quickly.

Construction of the Condie Power Line will cost $43 million and is expected to reduce energy consumption by 20 MW because of lower line losses. If the same amount of money had been spent on conservation and small natural gas generators, how much energy would have been saved? The guess of local activists is much more than 20 MW.

Saskatchewan is risking the future of its economy with its focus on energy and greenhouse gas intensive industries, particularly oil and gas development. According to recent press reports, Saskatchewan has raised $72 million in 1997 selling the rights to recover petroleum and natural gas on government lands - up from $44.5 million in the same period of 1996. Revenue totaled $140-million last year, Saskatchewan's fourth highest stake. Despite the short-term rosy picture, this kind of investment is risky for Saskatchewan. As the world moves to reduce carbon loading in the atmosphere, companies will look for oil and gas with the lowest levels of greenhouse gas emissions per unit of production. Alberta and Saskatchewan offer high levels of greenhouse gas emissions per unit of production.

Saskatchewan is to be congratulated, however, for its increasing focus on possible impacts of climate change. The province is working to get funding for a Prairies vulnerability study and has already moved forward on work with Alberta to look at the impacts of climate change in Edmonton, Calgary, Regina, Saskatoon and Winnipeg.


Biodiversity:

1993 Grade: F
1994 Grade: F
1995 Grade: D
1996 Grade: D
1997 Grade: F

Unfortunately, Saskatchewan's grade slipped badly this year. Efforts to pass a Forest Act with teeth, and higher stumpage rates, were defeated by industry lobbying. Higher stumpage rates will await negotiations with industry. Vast areas of Saskatchewan's aspen forests are slated for logging, and within the same ecosystem as the increased logging on the Manitoba side of the border. There has been no environmental assessment of the impact of clear-cut logging of the mixed wood boreal of Saskatchewan.

No new protected areas were created this year. Although the Minister released a draft public discussion document on protected area completion, it is vague, contains few specific candidate sites and provided no interim protection measures. The efforts to pursue the protected area system are hobbled by budget cuts, more severe to the Department of Environment and Resource Management (SERM) than to any other department of government. According to the Sierra Club Prairie Chapter, the government of Saskatchewan is not behind the plan. Energy and Mines is obstructive and Inter-governmental Affairs has actually derailed projects. A draft discussion paper released by the Farmlands Security Board would discourage the protection of ecologically sensitive lands by farmers.

ALBERTA

Climate Change F
Biodiversity F

Climate Change:

1993 Grade: not graded
1994 Grade: D
1995 Grade: F
1996 Grade: F-
1997 Grade: F

Greenhouse gas emissions (kilotonnes)
1990: 160,000
1995: 189,000
Increase: 18.1%

Alberta's grade has not improved because Alberta's attitude and performance on climate change has not improved.

In fact, Alberta's continued obstinate approach makes it more vulnerable to climate change than would occur if the province adopted a more proactive approach.

Investments of at least $6 billion in oil sands development in northern Alberta could triple output of some of the world's most energy and greenhouse gas intensive oil (upstream). According to a new report by Environment Canada (Fossil Fuel Energy Trade and Greenhouse Gas Emissions, 1997), "Canada leads the world in actual very heavy crude useSCanada also is next to Kuwait in intensity of (high greenhouse gas emissions) hydrogen use in upgrading and refining, due to this use of very heavy crudes. All Canadian heavy crude and bitumen production - surface and in-situ produced - is now and will continue to be greenhouse gas intensive."

Synthetic crude (from oil sands), according to the Environment Canada report, requires less refining and therefore generates fewer downstream emissions. It is, however, the high level of upstream emissions which make Alberta vulnerable in a carbon reduction world. If, as expected, negotiations eventually lead to global and then domestic trading of carbon, fossil fuel companies will increasingly base investment decisions on development cost comparisons that will include the cost of buying carbon credits. Alberta heavy oil would require the purchase of more credits than developments in Eastern Canada, for example, in other parts of the world. From this development perspective, Alberta must focus on reducing its upstream emissions.

How would Canada's largest customer, the United States, view Canadian oil, natural gas and electricity exports in a carbon reduction world? At the point of consumption, Canadian fuels would generate greenhouse gas emissions no higher than the same fuels from Mexico or Venezuela. Preliminary estimates from Environment Canada suggest that Canadian natural gas used in electricity production reduced U.S. greenhouse gas emissions between 30 to 40 Mt in 1995 (due to reduced use of coal and oil). Natural gas exports may have reduced U.S. emissions between 25 to 30 Mt in 1995 due to reduced U.S. domestic gas production and associated upstream emissions and displaced use of fuel oil and coal. Upstream emissions to process and transport this natural gas were almost equal to these displaced emissions: almost 30 Mt in 1995.

Natural gas producers currently are claiming that Canada should "charge" these upstream emissions to the U.S., as we are generating emissions that help the U.S. reduce theirs. Initial comparisons suggest such an approach may encourage the U.S. to instead purchase from other markets or to produce more gas domestically. Alberta and Saskatchewan should perhaps instead focus on reducing upstream emissions domestically.

Both Canada and the U.S. are signatories to the Framework Convention on Climate Change. The U.S. is actively promoting legally binding commitments for after the year 2000 and is emphasizing carbon trading as a least cost approach to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In a carbon reduction world, Canada can expect to retain, and possibly increase market share of natural gas for home heating, cogeneration and electricity production. The potential impact on oil exports is harder to assess.

Coal is where Alberta should focus. Its heavy reliance on coal for electricity is making its exports of oil and gas and other products more greenhouse gas intensive. Phasing out coal in Alberta's electricity mix would provide a quick means for reducing upstream emissions in the oil and gas sector, as well as in other energy-intensive manufacturing operations. TransAlta Utilities with its stated commitment to stabilizing its greenhouse gas emissions has an obligation to make these first investments, rather than investing in extending the life of its coal-fired operations.

The increasing threat of climate impacts will drive a global response to climate change. Commitments to legally binding emission reductions are inevitable, despite short-term success in ensuring only a voluntary response to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The province, in partnership with Imperial Oil, also is currently leading the charge against having Canada sign a legally binding commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions after the year 2000. Such an approach is not good for Canada's long-term interests which include impacts on human health, the North, water availability (including in Alberta!), agriculture, forestry, fisheries and tourism.

Finally, Alberta gets a failing grade as it continues to ignore the real issue of climate change: impacts. While credit is given for supporting work looking at impacts in Edmonton and Calgary, and has offered some support to the Prairies Vulnerability Study, it has not given appropriate consideration to the implications of the Mackenzie Basin Impact Study which showed warming in northern Alberta that is double the global average.

Projections of future warming show serious impacts on the boreal forest. Alberta continues to clear cut its forest resource with no consideration of climate change.

Alberta, also offers considerable potential with respect to the solutions of climate change. A competitive electricity market has the potential to bring in electricity from renewables. Calgary Electric and Alberta Power are willing to offer green power to consumers. Governments and industry need to make commitments and that includes the Alberta government and the oil and gas sector.

Also, the province is considering changes to its royalty structure that would finally charge royalties on upstream oil and gas consumption (energy used to produce the oil and gas is royalty free). The changes may be revenue neutral, but would still send a signal upstream to focus on efficiency and encourage better reporting of upstream consumption and emissions (currently considered widely under reported).

Alberta may want to take note of recent announcements by Shell and British Petroleum. Statements in May included:

1. Heinz Rothermund, managing director of the Shell division, Glasgow, to the 1997 Celebrity Lecture for the Institute of Petroleum at Strathclyde University: "How far is it sensible to explore for and develop new hydrocarbon reserves given that the atmosphere may not be able to cope with the greenhouse gases that will emanate from the utilization of the hydrocarbon reserves discovered already?"

2. John Browne, group chief executive of BP America in a speech to Stanford University: "I believe we've now come to an important moment in our consideration of the environment. It is a moment when...we need to go beyond analysis and to seek solutions and to take action. It is a moment for change and for rethinking corporate responsibility."

Alberta also needs to rethink its approach to climate change and to take responsibility for its contribution to the problem. Investments in long-lived capital in oil sands development, petrochemicals and heavy oil is short-sighted in a carbon reduction world.


Biodiversity:

1993 Grade: B
1994 Grade: B
1995 Grade: F
1996 Grade: D
1997 Grade: F

Unfortunately, after some promising signs of improvement last year, Alberta has slipped back to a failing grade. Although one new ecological reserve was announced this year, of the four sites announced under the Special Places 2000 program, three allow for industrial activity. The province's bias toward industrial activity at any cost now threatens one of Canada's most outstanding national parks. The province, along with the federal government, is considering a permit to an open-pit coal mine adjacent to the Jasper National Park -- a World Heritage Site. The proposed Cheviot Mine, one mile from the eastern boundary of the park threatens the habitat of 27 species, already considered at risk in Alberta, from the harlequin duck to the bull trout.

The Cheviot Mine is a project of Cardinal River Coals, a joint venture of Pittsburgh's Consolidated Coal, CONSOL, the largest coal mining company in the United States, and Luscar Ltd. of Alberta. It is a clear violation of the Biodiversity Convention to have a 26 kilometre-long, nine kilometre-wide swath of open-pit coal mines in an area so close to a National Park and World Heritage Site. The mines will affect the MacLead and Cardinal Rivers and eight streams forming the headwaters of the continental divide between the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans. In recent environmental assessment hearings, Parks Canada officials testified that the mine would negatively impact the ecological integrity of Jasper National Park.

But the bad news in Alberta doesn't end there. The Albertan public clearly wants protection of Kananaskis Country. Yet the province is rumoured to have already granted approval in principle to a new 400-room hotel development.

Despite strong recommendations from the Water Management Advisory Committee for mandatory ecosystem protection, these values were ignored in the government's final Water Act.

As reported in previous years, Alberta still has no endangered species legislation and remains a political adversary of effective legislated protection at the federal level.

Alberta can bring up this grade by turning down the proposed open-pit coal mine outside Jasper National Park. As U.S. President Bill Clinton said when rejecting the Canadian Noranda gold mine proposal outside Yellowstone, "Yellowstone is more precious than gold." Cannot Ralph Klein and Jean Chretien agree that Jasper is more precious than coal?

BRITISH COLUMBIA

Climate Change C -
Biodiversity D -


Climate Change

1993 Grade: N/A
1994 Grade: C-
1995 Grade: C+
1996 Grade: D+
1997 Grade: C-

Greenhouse gas emissions (kilotonnes)

1990: 50,400
1995: 58,400
Increase: 15.9%

British Columbia's grade improves slightly because it is the only province actively exploring policy options for reducing its greenhouse gas emissions.

The government has established the B.C. Greenhouse Gas Forum to provide recommendations regarding Canada's positions in international negotiations, and to develop within two years, measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The mandate does not require that these measures stabilize B.C.'s emissions. The process is to operate on a consensus basis, a recipe for inaction, particularly as the Alberta-based Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers is a participant.

In addition, the process must not be used as an excuse for delay: the province must move quickly to ensure a rapid adoption of the new Energy Code for Buildings and Houses; an initiative at risk because of the serious cutbacks to the departments of energy and environment.

The province has also commissioned analysis, and is pursuing, a Pilot Greenhouse Gas Offsets project. The pilot will be launched this fall and could lead to companies investing in emissions reductions in the province or elsewhere to reduce domestic emissions. The key is recognition by the government of these "credits" against future regulatory requirements. Such "banking" of early reductions is seen by industry as an incentive for early action. It is, however, unclear whether voluntary commitments (as is currently the case) will be enough of a threat to induce these investments. It is also unclear whether these "credits" would be recognized at a national level.

Canada's signature on a legally binding protocol this December in Kyoto, Japan, may be just the incentive required to get companies investing in early reductions. It is expected that it will take Canada at least two years to ratify the protocol as the process will require detailed negotiations with provinces regarding allocation of emission obligations.

British Columbia has supported Canada taking strong positions on climate change in the past. The province has endorsed moving beyond voluntary action and has emphasized concerns regarding the impact of climate change in both B.C. and Canada. Such support must continue and could help with difficult negotiations this fall between energy and environment ministers.

The Liberal platform in the recent federal election included a commitment to develop a National Transportation Strategy. Economic and population growth in B.C. have increased greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector more than 23 per cent between 1990 and 1995. The province must continue to push for national increases in fuel economy standards and to support investments in the development of alternative technologies such as the Ballard Fuel Cell. The province also deserves credit for not only investing in Ballard, but for encouraging Vancouver to purchase three fuel cell powered transit buses.

Although the province's investment in transit is falling short of levels necessary to meet greater Vancouver goals for increased transit use, there is potential for improvements flowing from the negotiations on transportation governance between the province and the Greater Vancouver Regional District. New governance structures may help encourage greater investment in transit and increased urban density.

Biodiversity:

not graded in 1993
1994 Grade: C-
1995 Grade: C+
1996 Grade: B-
1997 Grade: D-

New student Glen Clark has brought down the province's grade with a fairly consistent browning of British Columbia environmental policy.

On the plus side, the province did increase protected areas. Eight Gulf Island properties were protected as part of the Pacific Marine Heritage Legacy. As well areas in Kamloops and the Vanderhoof and Kispiox were added to the protected system plan. However well the B.C. government has been doing in establishing parks, recently the commitment to protection of at least 12% of the province's ecosystems, based on a representative and viable system has altered. The new commitment appears to be to protect 12% of the land base, without regard to the need to be representative. The result is already skewing parks toward rock and ice, and away from prime commercial old growth forests. Nearly sixty-nine percent of the protected areas are non-forested or high elevation forests, primarily alpine, or treeless. Less than six percent of protected areas are low elevation forests.

Even within British Columbia's so-called protected areas of forest, much is in bogs and rocky zones that were never commercially viable in any event. Of the 8.6% of the coastal western hemlock zone which has been protected on Vancouver Island, much is of the bog variety, with stunted trees, not the towering old-growth Sitka spruce and western red cedar.

In the last year, the Clark government has dismantled the CORE process, the Commission on Resources and the Environment, which had developed land-use plans, largely supported by community consensus developed through arduous public hearings. The Clark government also abandoned plans to bring forward a Sustainability Act and dropped the planned Environmental Protection Act.

More alarming, Clark recently (weakened) requirements of the much-vaunted Forest Practices Code, before it could be fully implemented. Requirements to protect biodiversity have not been utilised, and the rate of cut, province-wide, still constitutes a significant over-cut. In fact, B.C. is following a deliberate policy of liquidation of the province's old growth forests. These magnificent forests are to be converted to second-growth fibre farms. Once the huge giants are gone, the province admits the rate of cut and amount of wood logged annually will have to drop substantially.

The Clark government has also withdrawn its promised introduction of endangered species legislation. British Columbia is a signatory of the National Accord for the Protection of Species at Risk, which the Federal Government claims commits all governments to developing complementary legislation and programs to ensure endangered species are protected throughout Canada. The reality is far different. B.C.'s new Environment Minister Cathy MacGregor has made it clear that B.C. will not support "stand alone" endangered species legislation. She claims that the Forest Practices Code will protect species at risk. In fact, not a single species has been designated for protection under the Code. Logging practices continue to wipe out habitat of endangered species, most recently in logging an area which had been a university study area with well known nesting areas of the threatened marbled murrelet. Moreover, even if used to protect forest dependent species, the Code has no impact of species at risk of extinction due to urbanisation, agriculture, mining or any other non-logging menace.

British Columbia clearly needs endangered species legislation. Its own Ministry of Environment acknowledges that 743 species in the province are at risk. Yet B.C.'s government has not only refused to bring in its own legislation, it has actively campaigned against the pathetic efforts at the federal level to protect "federal" species, claiming these intrude on provincial jurisdiction.

There is no better argument for strong federal endangered species legislation than the sorry record of the B.C. government on this file. If the province wants to have any credibility in opposing federal legislation, it had better introduce effective endangered species legislation at the provincial level.

TERRITORIAL

Northwest Territories

Climate Change C
Biodiversity C -



Climate Change:

1993 Grade: not graded
1994 Grade: not graded
1995 Grade: D
1996 Grade: C-
1997 Grade: C

Greenhouse gas emissions (kilotonnes)
1990: 2,230
1995: 2,350
Increase: 5.4%

The Northwest Territories grade improves slightly this year because there is movement on both the impacts front and with respect to energy management.

An Arctic Energy Alliance which includes the Utility Board, the Housing Corporation, NWT Power, and Public Works has been formed and a business plan drafted. While the focus is on energy cost reductions, carbon dioxide reductions and better air quality are implicit with most energy services coming from diesel.

At a municipal level, Dennis Bevington, the mayor of Fort Smith is leading an effort aimed at getting municipalities to join the 20 Percent Club, a municipal program aimed at reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 20 percent. The Mayor is focused on encouraging community energy planning and is spearheading a research project aimed at developing sustainable energy for the North, particularly hydrogen. Municipal efforts and the efforts of the Energy Alliance provide a strong foundation for the Northwest Territories to develop energy alternatives and to focus on energy efficiency.

As with the Yukon, the Northwest Territorial government has great potential to play a proactive role nationally on climate change. The results of the Mackenzie Basin Impact Study clearly show that there is a real and significant risk to the region from climate change. The Minister responsible for Economic Development, Steve Kakfwi, must intervene nationally to defend the Territory calling for real reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. The Minister must insist that Canada sign a legally binding protocol in Kyoto, Japan this December.

Finally, the NWT must assess its energy options with respect to BHP mines. A reliance on diesel increases the Territories emissions by up to 16 per cent according to some estimates. Alternatives must be explored.

Biodiversity

1996 Grade: D
1997 Grade: C-

The most recent experience in the Northwest Territories (NWT) has been the extensive mineral claiming and exploration by the diamond mining industry. Environmental assessments have been wholly inadequate. First Nations, environmental groups and Canada's most distinguished scientists have expressed outrage. But the South African diamond miners are digging up the terrain with an intensity that reminds northerners of the Gold Rush. Thanks in part to a legal challenge by World Wildlife Fund, as part of the approvals process for the BHP diamond mine, the federal and territorial governments have agreed to develop a protected areas strategy, to be completed by 1998 and implemented by the year 2000.

The pressures on the NWT forests have also increased, but not as drastically as those in the Yukon. Still, logging in the NWT has jumped considerably over the same period that it has in the Yukon.

Unfortunately, the government of the NWT has not protected any new areas this year. However, the NWT does deserve credit for supporting the creation of a new national park in its territory, Tuktut Nogait, and the set-aside by the federal government of land for future park creation in Wager Bay and Northern Bathurst Island.

Yukon

Climate Change C
Biodiversity C

Climate Change:

1993 Grade: N/A
1994 Grade: N/A
1995 Grade: D
1996 Grade: D
1997 Grade: C

Greenhouse gas emissions:
1993: 561
1995: 570
Increase: 1.6%

This year's grade for the Yukon reflects Sierra Club's assessment of potential, rather than credit for action, although some steps are worth noting.

The Yukon Government is in a position to take a lead on climate change in Canada. With impacts already evident, and severe impacts projected, the Yukon has a responsibility to its citizens to rally political action in Canada around real reductions in greenhouse gases. At the same time, the Yukon has large opportunities with respect to energy efficiency and renewable energy.

With respect to action, the New Democratic Government established an Energy Commission in December 1996 with a mandate to "develop a comprehensive Energy Policy for the Yukon based upon the sustainable development of Yukon energy resources; the efficient use of energy; a secure supply of reliable energy and affordable energy. In addition, there are significant challenges with respect to electricity supply and the impact on ratepayers from the closing of the Anvil Mine in Faro. Yukon Energy sought and received Utility Board approval for a rate increase of up to 20 percent to compensate for lost revenue from the mine.

The Yukon Government's response included rate relief of up to 5 percent for all customers and further financial relief for residential customers so the increase is limited to 7.5 percent. The Government will bear the full 20 percent increase and has committed to reducing its bills through investments in energy efficiency. In addition, $500,000 has been set aside for new energy conservation initiatives for residential and commercial ratepayers.

The Energy Commission will assess a range of energy supply and efficiency options for the Yukon. The Commission must move now to the consultation phase and develop the consensus required to implement a sustainable energy vision for the Yukon. Energy Minister, Trevor Harding, and Renewable Resources Minister Eric Fairclough must attend the joint meeting of energy and environment ministers in the fall prepared to defend the Yukon's interests. This must include all of its interests including: the environment upon which its tourism base rests, its forests, the health of its citizens, and its fisheries. The ministers must insist that Canada sign a legally binding protocol in Kyoto, Japan this December. In addition, the Yukon must prepare for its energy future: one based on efficiency and renewable energy with real declines in reliance on diesel.

The first step would be to fully implement the initiatives submitted to the Voluntary Challenge and Registry, including: adoption of the new National Code for Buildings and Houses; energy retrofits of government buildings (in the early stages); including municipal buildings and schools; time of use rates for electricity; and further investments in renewable energy such as wind, solar, geothermal, micro-hydro and biomass. Regulation must make it possible for independent power producers to sell (at a fair price) energy to the utility.

Biodiversity

1995 Grade: D
1996 Grade: D
1997 Grade: C

On September 30, 1996, a new territorial government came to power displaying a more environmental bent. One of the government's first actions was to create a Yukon Forest Commission. The Commission is tasked with developing a forest- management policy before the federal government devolves control over natural resources to the territorial government in spring of 1998. In February, 1997, a tri-partite devolution agreement was signed by the federal department for Indian and Northern Affairs, the Territorial government and the Council of Yukon First Nations.

As well, the government established a citizen-led Yukon Forest Advisory Council, including representatives of industry, conservation groups, other forest users, and all levels of government -- First Nations, territorial and federal.

While control over the forest is still in federal hands, and logging continues to be allowed in the absence of any resource or land-use planning, there are signs of hope. The head of the Yukon Forest Commission, Dennis Fentie, is the member of the legislature for Watson Lake. While only time will tell if the territorial government will be able to avoid the mistakes of provincial governments, Fentie's approach inspires confidence. He has set three goals for Yukon forest management: protecting the forest, building a better understanding of forest ecosystems, and strengthening the ability to manage the forest. Recognizing errors in other jurisdictions, he has set forth a commitment to identify protected areas before they become locked-up in long-term forest licenses.

Bringing down the grade is the Yukon's failure to create any new protected areas this year. Yukon conservationists have begun to lose patience with the pace of meeting campaign commitments by the new government. An election promise to enlarge Tombstone Mountain park has still not been acted on. The proposed central core area of the park must be enlarged to be ecologically viable. This should be possible through the process of land claims settlements. The government also needs to act to protect key representative areas of the Klutlan Glacier region and significant wetlands in southwest Yukon.

The Yukon government also lobbied against effective endangered species legislation at the federal level, resulting in amendments to remove certain game species from the proposed Canada Endangered Species Protection Act (Bill C-65).


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Copyright 1997, Sierra Club of Canada