While most everyone is familiar with efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), what is far less familiar is the federal government’s focus on the larger issue of sustainability. For background, see the Federal Sustainability Development Act.
Making Canada One of the “Greenest Countries in the World”
This ambitious sustainability plan was recently updated (13 March 2019). As stated in the report, it includes “…13 aspirational goals supported by measurable targets and clear actions. These are all aimed at realizing the vision that Canada is one of the greenest countries in the world and where its quality of life continues to improve.”
There are a total of 26 targets outlined by the Federal Government. These 2016-2019 Federal Sustainable Development Strategy Targets include far more than just a reduction in GHGs. Some of the targets include:
- Reducing Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions (relative to 2005 emission levels) by 30% by 2030.
- Implement the “Mission Innovation” commitment to double federal government investments in clean energy by 2020.
- Invest $20 billion in funding for green infrastructure initiatives.
- By 2030, generate 90% of Canada’s electricity from renewable, non-emitting sources.
- Reduce phosphorus loading into Lake Erie by 40% to achieve the binational (Canada-US) phosphorus targets from a 2008 baseline.
- Ensure 60% by March 31, 2019, and by March 31, 2021, that 100% of the long-term drinking-water advisories affecting First Nation drinking-water systems financially supported by Indigenous Services Canada are resolved.
The sustainability effort focuses on reducing anthropogenic impact on the Great Lakes and Lake Simcoe. Air quality (aside from GHGs) is also a major focus. Ecological efforts include reducing plastics, management of fish harvests, and species at risk.
Tangentially, it was recently announced that the government of Ontario is considering a ban on single-use plastics.
The Business Community’s Role
With respect to how this may affect business in Canada, the recent report states, “Canadian businesses play an important role in advancing sustainable development. There is a commitment to continue working with business to develop Canada’s national strategy for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and also take action to support and strengthen the role of business in sustainability.” Of course, anytime there is a government initiative, businesses want to know if there will be more regulations and how they will impact their businesses bottom line. Time will tell.
More “Teeth” Via Bill C-57
The 2019 Bulletin from the Canadian Network for Human Health and the Environment states, “The government is also planning to give the Federal Sustainable Development Act more teeth through Bill C-57, which has just received Royal Assent. You can view the Environment Canada and Climate Change’s explanatory Power Point Presentation on the FSDS and Bill C-57.”
Agriculture and First Nations
With respect to the issue of nutrient impacts on surface water, Dragun works with agricultural clients to help them find solutions. This includes using environmental isotopes and other advanced methods to differentiate between sources of nitrates.
Dragun also works directly with First Nation communities as their consultant on a variety of issues, inclusive of surface water quality protection.
You can read the 200-plus page report, “Progress Report on the 2016-2019 Federal Sustainable Development Strategy.” For those interested and involved in social media, you can track this effort using the hashtags #GCresults and #SustDev.