New report sets climate tests for project assessments

Monday, January 28, 2019

A new report by climate and assessment experts has developed a set of tests that could help determine whether federal projects support Canada’s commitment to the Paris Agreement. 

The Paris to Projects report was authored by experts from the universities of Waterloo, Dalhousie, Concordia as well as the Quebec Centre for Environmental Law. 


It identifies a number of climate change mitigation tools that should be applied in federal assessments, including carbon budgeting, pathways to decarbonization, applying regulatory and economic tools to GHG emissions, and ensuring a transition strategy that protects vulnerable populations and indigenous rights. 

Under the proposed federal Impact Assessment Act, decision makers will be required to determine if a project would help or hinder Canada in meeting its Paris commitments.

“Assessments are a key venue for proactive climate action. They guide decision making on major extractive and infrastructure projects that will influence Canada for decades to come,” said Robert Gibson, an author of the report and a professor at the School of Environment, Resources and Sustainability at Waterloo. “The report clarifies what meeting our climate commitments entails – how far we have to go and what we have to do to close the gap between our current efforts and our promised accomplishments.”

The Paris to Projects report demonstrates that for Canada to meet its climate commitments, it will need to decarbonize the national economy by 2050 at the latest.

“The federal Impact Assessment Act proposed by Bill C-69, currently before the Senate, requires consideration of whether assessed undertakings would hinder or contribute to meeting Canada’s climate change commitments,” said Meinhard Doelle, a law professor at Dalhousie University.  “Our most notable climate commitment under the Paris Agreement is to do our fair share to limit global average temperature rise to well below 2°C, relative to pre-industrial levels, and to pursue efforts to limit the increase to 1.5°C.”  

The From Paris to Projects: Clarifying the implications of Canada’s climate change mitigation commitments for the planning and assessment of projects and strategic undertakings is a result of two years of work and was supported by the Metcalf Foundation

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