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Canadian climate change policy developments


Climate change presents environmental, social and economic challenges worldwide. Under the Paris Agreement, Canada has committed to reducing its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 30% below 2005 levels by 2030. Canada’s federal government has also announced that it will be developing a plan to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. In pursuit of its targets, Canada has taken a unique, two-tiered approach that features both a federal strategy and various provincial initiatives.


On the national front, the federal government and 11 of 13 provinces and territories signed onto the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change (Pan-Canadian Framework) in 2016. In 2018, the federal government brought one of the four “pillars” of that plan – pricing carbon emissions – into law by enacting the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act (GHG Pricing Act). The GHG Pricing Act has two parts:

  1. the fuel charge, which started at $20/tonne in 2019 and will increase over time to $50/tonne in 2022; and
  2. the output-based pricing (OBP) system, which requires facilities to pay a carbon price if their emissions exceed 50,000 tonnes or more of CO2e.

The federal pricing system applies in provinces that do not implement their own carbon tax or cap-and-trade system that meets the minimum federal pricing and emissions reduction standards. The federal government has also introduced various legislation and policy measures aimed at the other pillars of the Pan-Canadian Framework, which are: i) complementary action to reduce emissions across the economy; ii) adaptation measures; and iii) actions to accelerate innovation, support clean technology and create jobs. These measures include, among others, GHG reporting requirements for large emitters, plans to phase out coal-fired electricity generation by 2030, and the Strategic Assessment of Climate Change, which imposes additional climate change and GHG planning requirements on resource projects assessed under the federal Impact Assessment Act.

Meanwhile, provinces have introduced their own legislation and policies to address climate change.

British Columbia

British Columbia’s province-wide carbon tax, first implemented in 2008, is set at $45/tonne on fossil fuels burned. The tax is scheduled to increase to $50/tonne on April 1, 2022. Through its Climate Change Accountability Act, British Columbia has legislated targets for reducing GHG emissions by at least 40% below 2007 levels by 2030, 60% by 2040, and 80% by 2050. The province has also passed carbon compliance legislation that applies to the coal and liquefied natural gas industries, and has legislated objectives and mechanisms relating to self-sufficient electricity generation and renewable energy.


In 2019, the Alberta government repealed the Climate Leadership Act, bringing an end to the provincial carbon levy that came into effect in 2017. Since January 1, 2020, the federal fuel charge has applied in Alberta. Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Ontario’s constitutional challenge of the federal GHG Pricing Act was unsuccessful at the Supreme Court of Canada in March 2021.

Alberta has legislated its own output-based benchmark system that applies to facilities that emit more than 100,000 tonnes of CO2e annually. Those facilities are required to reduce their emissions intensity relative to their industry or facility-specific benchmarks. To the extent they cannot meet their reduction targets, they must use emission performance credits or emissions offsets generated by other facilities, or pay $30/tonne on each excess tonne of CO2e they emit (to keep pace with the federal OBP system, this fee would have to increase annually to eventually reach $50/tonne CO2e in 2022). Alberta has also legislated an annual GHG emissions limit on the oil sands of 100 Mt CO2e, and the current provincial government has not officially scrapped the previous government’s commitment to phase out coal-fired electricity generation by 2030.


Québec has used a cap-and-trade system for GHG emission allowances since 2013. This system sets caps on emissions by industry, and companies that cannot reduce their emissions below that cap have to buy credits from a carbon market integrated with California through the Western Climate Initiative. Québec has also developed a 2030 Energy Policy [PDF] which aims to make the province a North American leader in renewable energy and energy efficiency by 2030. The province’s 2013-2020 Climate Change Action Plan [PDF] sets out 30 priorities and over 150 actions that target climate change.


Ontario replaced the federal OBP system with its own pricing system for large industrial emitters following federal approval received in the fall of 2020. Ontario’s emissions performance standard program began on January 1, 2022, and regulates greenhouse gas emissions from Ontario’s large industrial facilities, intended to align with compliance obligations under the federal OBPS.

Ontario was briefly part of the carbon market with Québec and California from January 1, 2018, until the province repealed its cap-and-trade program in July 2018. Ontario has since released its own “Made-in-Ontario Environment Plan” [PDF] in which the province commits to reducing its CO2e emissions by 30% below 2005 levels by 2030 through actions that include, among other things, emission performance standards for large emitters; an emission reduction fund to encourage private investment in clean technology solutions; a reverse auction system that promotes emissions reduction projects; and an increase to the renewable content requirement in gasoline to 15% as early as 2025 through the Greener Gasoline Regulation (revoked in November 2020).


Several provinces aside from those discussed above have recently introduced, or are currently developing or amending, their own climate change legislation and policies. As noted above, a number of provinces launched constitutional challenges against the federal carbon pricing system set by the GHG Pricing Act. In March 2021, the Supreme Court of Canada issued its decision on Ontario, Saskatchewan and Alberta’s challenges, ruling that the federal carbon pricing law is constitutional.

Concerns regarding climate change are continuing to challenge business leaders and governments alike to rethink their environmental strategies. Businesses looking to navigate the complexities of Canadian environmental policy should pay close attention to upcoming provincial and federal developments to best manage their risks and opportunities.

Bookmark this page and follow us on Twitter to stay current on Canada’s action on climate change.

Latest Climate Change News

The following articles provide insight into the latest developments of environmental policy in Canada. Insight by our legal team is available in the Osler Resources section.


UN Emissions Gap Report 2022 warns international community falling far short of climate goals

United Nations Environment Programme
October 27, 2022
National pledges to cut carbon emissions updated at 2021’s COP26 in Glasgow, UK, make a negligible difference to predicted emissions by 2030. The report warns that current policies point to a 2.8°C rise in temperature by the end of the century, and the most recent pledges would still take us far from the Paris Agreement goal of limiting global warming to below 2°C. It finds that only a transformative system-wide cuts to greenhouse gas emissions can get us back on track, and provides in-depth strategies for several sectors to do so.


Trudeau calls for global carbon tax at COP26 summit
CBC News
November 2, 2021
At the 2021 COP26 summit in Glasgow, Scotland, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau urged other countries to agree to an international price on carbon to reduce the use of fossil fuels globally. Trudeau says putting a price on emissions could level the playing field for countries like Canada with their own carbon pricing regimes and is the most efficient way to keep global temperature increases to 1.5 degrees Celsius.


The $2 Trillion Transition: Canada’s Road to Net Zero
RBC Economics
October 20, 2021
Despite commitments to cut emissions in recent decades, Canada contributes more pollution into the atmosphere than it did a generation earlier. There are, however, several paths that the country can take across industries to achieve its Net Zero goal by 2050.


IPCC climate report: Earth is warmer than it’s been in 125,000 years
August 9, 2021
A landmark report from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) suggests that society’s continual dependence on fossil fuels is warming the world at a pace that is unprecedented in the past 2,000 years. In its assessment, the IPCC says things are poised to get worse if greenhouse gas emissions continue, and makes it clear that the future of the planet depends in, large part, on the choices that humanity makes today.


Canada releases national issues report on climate change adaptation [PDF]
Natural Resources Canada
June 28, 2021
A national perspective has been presented on how climate change is impacting our environment, economy and many aspects of our daily lives. The report provides knowledge of climate change impacts, as well as examples of adaptation efforts underway to address them.


How 2021 could be a pivotal year in the climate change fight
Policy Options
January 12, 2021
Developments late in 2020 point to accelerated activity and heightened ambition both internationally and in Canada for supporting the global battle against climate change. With the need for economic stimulus, there will be an opening for governments to accelerate the green transformation while addressing persistent societal inequities.


16 ways Canada’s enhanced climate plan advances energy efficiency
Efficiency Canada
December 14, 2020
The federal government has released an updated climate plan that has moved energy efficiency to the top of the agenda due to the international consensus on the role that it must play. It is clear that Canada’s plan to achieve a net-zero emission economy must also create an energy efficient economy.


Canada’s new climate plan a big deal: Here’s why
Canadian Institute for Climate Choices
December 11, 2020
Canada now has a credible plan to meet its climate targets. The plan sets expectations for businesses and individuals making investment choices that will have important implications for emissions – and rates of return – over the next 10 years.


Canada's new greenhouse gas rules set stage for startup software battle - Callaway Climate Insights 
Callaway Climate Insights 
Aug 4, 2020
With the Canadian federal government imposing strict new rules governing methane emissions from oil and gas wells and calling for exact emissions measurements, Osler partner Sander Duncanson tells Callaway Climate Insights that this is creating additional pressure for Canadian producers.


Former Bank of Canada governor Mark Carney to serve as UN special envoy on climate
CBC News
Dec 1, 2019
Bank of England governor Mark Carney, who previously served as Canada's top central banker, will be taking on a new role as the United Nations' special envoy on climate action and climate finance.


Ford government loses court challenge over federal carbon tax
June 28, 2019
The federal government's carbon pricing scheme is constitutionally sound and has the critical purpose of fighting climate change, Ontario's top court ruled in a split decision.


Federal carbon tax is constitutional: Saskatchewan Court of Appeal
Global News
May 3, 2019
The Saskatchewan Court of Appeal ruled the Canadian federal government has the constitutional power to implement a carbon tax in provinces that don’t meet Ottawa’s minimum price.


Edmonton Mayor Iveson tells UN conference cities can fight climate change alone
Global News
March 5, 2018
Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson tells a UN conference that cities can effectively do their part to combat climate change on their own, even if higher levels of government aren’t engaged.


Premier says Saskatchewan should get federal funding to reduce emissions despite saying ‘no’ to carbon tax plan
CBC News
February 26, 2018
Scott Moe, the Premier of Saskatchewan, says the province should get federal funding for emission reduction programs despite saying “no” to the federal carbon tax plan.


Manitoba signs federal climate-change plan
CBC News
February 23, 2018
The Manitoba government has signed on to the Canadian federal government’s climate-change plan, at least for the next two years.


The Government of Canada outlines next steps in clean-energy transition
Environment and Climate Change Canada
February 16, 2018
Canada’s Minister of Environment and Climate Change Catherine McKenna announced amendments to existing regulations to phase out traditional coal-fired electricity by 2030, in addition to new greenhouse gas regulations for natural-gas-fired electricity.


Ontario Launches the Green Ontario Fund to Help People Save Money and Fight Climate Change
Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change, Newsroom - Government of Ontario
August 30, 2017
Ontario is investing $377 million in proceeds from its carbon market to establish the Green Ontario Fund. The province has also appointed a new board of directors for the Fund and owners and renters of detached, semi-detached, town and row homes can register for the GreenON Installations program through the Green Ontario Fund website. Other Climate Change Action Plan measures funded by carbon market proceeds include new electric vehicle incentives, charging stations and infrastructure, energy retrofits for homes, multi-residential buildings, social housing, targeted greenhouse gas emission reduction programs for large industries, small and medium-sized businesses and support for Indigenous communities to fight climate change.


Climate change still a priority in NAFTA talks: says Finance Minister
The Canadian Press, CTV News
August 24, 2017
Catherine McKenna, Canada’s environment minister, maintains that Climate Change will remain an important priority for Canada during the NAFTA renegotiations, despite Trump’s rhetoric surrounding the falsehood of Climate Change as a phenomenon. McKenna attended a roundtable in British Columbia on Thursday, August 24th, to meet with members of the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade and to meet with British Columbia’s environment minister, George Heyman. McKenna inquired about B.C.’s intentions surrounding the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.


Canada’s hope to get Climate Change into NAFTA could prove difficult
Mia Rabson, CBC News  
August 8, 2017
A special report on climate change by scientists at 13 U.S. federal agencies was leaked before White House approval, as a result of fear that Trump will refuse its’ release because of his disbelief of climate change. Trudeau has stated that Canada wants climate change, reduced emissions and efforts to shift to a low carbon economy, written into the new NAFTA. Negotiations are taking place now. Getting climate change in NAFTA will help Canada push for broader carbon pricing across North America, which would prevent the national carbon price Trudeau is imposing from hurting Canadian competitiveness


Energy analyst criticizes calls to report climate-change risks
Shawn McCarthy, Globe & Mail
May 16, 2017
An energy analyst is urging caution as investors and governments push for more disclosure from companies on how climate change could pose material risks to their businesses.


U.S. won’t be rushed on climate change policies, Tillerson tells Arctic meeting
Mark Thiessen, Globe & Mail
May 11, 2017
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told the Arctic Council the U.S. will take its time to decide on its climate change policies moving forward.


Bill Morneau’s big budget gap with the G20 on climate and trade
Terence Corcoran, Financial Post
March 23, 2017
Whether Donald Trump is really responsible for Finance Minister Bill Morneau’s 278-page lexicon of budgetary twaddle, institutionalized jargonism and fiscal paralysis doesn’t really matter.


G20 to agree on forex, struggle on trade, climate change
Jan Strupczewski And Gernot Heller, Globe & Mail
March 17, 2017
The world’s financial leaders will renounce competitive devaluations and warn against exchange rate volatility, a document showed on Friday, but are likely to struggle to find common ground on trade and financing against climate change.


Alberta forecasts greenhouse gas emissions will peak in early 2020s
Kelly Cryderman, Globe & Mail
March 16, 2017
Long the country’s leading producer of greenhouse gases, Alberta now forecasts its emissions will peak in the early part of the next decade – a stark change from other predictions that emissions growth in the oil and gas-focused province would continue until at least 2030.


Vancouver’s renewable energy goals require bolder action: report
Frances Bula, Globe & Mail
March 14, 2017
If Vancouver really wants to achieve its goal to move to 100-per-cent-renewable energy by 2050, it will need to bring in dramatic measures to get residents and businesses off fossil fuels to power their vehicles and heat their buildings, according to new report.


These five scientific innovations will change our lives
Dino Trevisani, The Globe and Mail
Feb 1, 2017
Globally, the costs of treating mental disorders are greater than the costs of diabetes, respiratory disorders and cancer combined. More than 99.9 percent of the electromagnetic environment we live in cannot be observed by the naked eye, leaving us vulnerable to what’s hidden from view. It is estimated [PDF] that food production must increase by 70 percent to meet nutritional demand of a ballooning world population. Diseases like cancer or Parkinson’s can be difficult to detect, lurking in our bodies long before symptoms appear. Environmental pollutants enter the air undetected, contributing to climate change.


OPTrust tests investment portfolio against global-warming risks
Janet McFarland, The Globe and Mail
January 31, 2017
The OPTrust pension plan has become the first in Canada to release a detailed analysis of the potential risks to its investment portfolio from global warming, predicting its investment returns could improve with modest warming but decrease if there is a major impact on global temperatures this century.


On climate change, Trump won't kill the planet
Konrad Yakabuski, The Globe and Mail
January 30, 2017
Of all the protesters, free traders and peace-lovers depressed at the prospect of four years of tendentious tweets, protectionism and a faster-advancing Doomsday Clock, perhaps no Trump-phobics are as inconsolable as the global climate activists who thought they’d killed the Keystone XL pipeline once and for all.


Scientists move 'Doomsday Clock' time to closest to midnight in 64 years
John Clarke, The Globe and Mail
January 26, 2017
Atomic scientists reset their symbolic “Doomsday Clock” to its closest time to midnight in 64 years on Thursday, saying the world was closer to catastrophe due to threats such as nuclear weapons, climate change and Donald Trump’s election as U.S. president. The timepiece, devised by the Chicago-based Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists and displayed on its website, is widely viewed as an indicator of the world’s vulnerability to disaster.


Trump shapes early changes to U.S. energy strategy
Calgary Herald
January 20, 2017
Trump’s latest energy plan — a revised version of a blueprint published after his election and another touted on the campaign trail — describes revenues from oil and gas production as a way to pay for building new roads and bridges.


Obama had a pen, 'Trump has an eraser': New 'America First Energy Plan' lists early energy changes
Jennifer Dlouhy, Financial Post
January 20, 2017
The list of actions Trump can take imminently includes nullifying President guidelines that federal agencies weigh climate change when approving pipelines, deciding what areas to open for drilling or taking other major actions, two people familiar with Trump’s transition planning say.


‘Pipelines may be straight, but the stories behind them have many twists’: How Kinder Morgan was approved
Peter O’Neil, National Post
January 6, 2017
OTTAWA — Just three days after the Oct. 19, 2015 federal election, a half-dozen of the most powerful political insiders in the country gathered for dinner in the Byward Market, a historic section of the nation’s capital filled with high-end restaurants, boutiques, courtyards and artisan shops. It wouldn’t take long into the meal for the Albertans to learn that Trudeau would not only back Notley’s decision to impose a carbon tax, among other measures, but “take it national” in short order.


Thomson: Even carbon tax proponents are finding fault with NDP's new levy
Graham Thomson, Calgary Herald
January 6, 2017
When Alberta Party Leader Greg Clark went to see the latest Star Wars movie over the holidays, among the advertisements that ran before the film was one promoting Alberta’s climate leadership plan. “People were jeering in the theatre,” said Clark, MLA for Calgary-Elbow. “And rightfully so. The ads are not about informing Albertans of a program they can take advantage of; it’s all about political spin.”


Coal rush underway in Alberta, but will likely be short-lived
Reid Southwick, Calgary Herald
December 31, 2016
Business is booming for an Alberta coal mine that has seen its sales more than double this month, with truckers lining up for extra loads of a hot commodity. Coal, a major source of air pollution linked to serious health conditions, is at the centre of a buying bonanza when the Alberta government is ushering in a climate change agenda.


2016’s super warm Arctic winter ‘extremely unlikely’ without human-induced climate change, scientists say
Chris Mooney, National Post
December 28, 2016
The Arctic continues to amaze. Hit by a second bout of extremely warm winter temperatures in recent days, the seasonal growth of floating sea ice has flattened out, just as it did when hit by similarly dramatic heat in November. The area of the Arctic Ocean covered by sea ice is currently far smaller than it was in 2012 at this time of year. And while 2012 holds the all-time record for lowest ice extent in September, 2016 has been beating it since mid-October.


Inside Christy Clark’s climate change brinksmanship
John Geddes, Macclen’s
Dec 10, 2016
It sure looked like an effective display of brinksmanship. Late in the Dec. 9 meeting between Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the premiers on climate change, B.C.’s Christy Clark walked out and told reporters she wouldn’t be signing Trudeau’s vaunted Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change.


Alberta's NDP government will spend another $4.5 million on climate change ads
James Wood, Calgary Herald
Dec 7, 2016
The NDP government is putting $4.5 million toward a new advertising campaign for its controversial climate change plan, pushing the promotional price tag for the environmental initiative to nearly $9 million.


Why Canada’s resource wealth should fuel the new economy
Scott Vaughan And Robert Smith, The Globe and Mail
Dec 7, 2016
The federal government’s decision to approve two pipelines last week raises a number of issues, but there is one we haven’t really heard in the debate so far: How should revenues earned from resource extraction be used? For us, this is a central question and one that touches directly on Canada’s well-being.


Andrew Coyne: How a carbon tax without the U.S. can work for Canada
Andrew Coyne, National Post
Nov 21, 2016
Thirty years ago, when Canada entered into negotiations on a free trade deal with the United States, opponents of the deal knew, absolutely knew, that our economy could not possibly survive it.


Carbon levies will make it tough to compete with U.S. firms: Enbridge executive
Paul Waldie, The Globe and Mail
Nov 22, 2016
Canadian companies will be at a disadvantage when competing against Americans if the federal government pursues its carbon-pricing strategy, says a senior executive of Enbridge Inc.


Alberta government fleshes out plan to drop coal, meet renewable power targets
Lauren Krugel, The Canadian Press
Nov 4, 2016
Province plans to procure 5,000 megawatts of renewable power by 2030, starting with 400 MW next year; grid operator will offer 20-year contracts, though cost estimates remain under wraps.


Oil industry group opens doors to renewable energy companies
Kyle Bakx, CBC News
Nov 4, 2016
After more than 35 years of lobbying for the best interests of the oil and gas industry, the Petroleum Services Association of Canada is opening its doors to wind, solar and other renewable energy companies.


Growing fears that a Trump presidency would scrap Paris climate deal
Margo McDiarmid, CBC News
Nov 4, 2016
The Paris climate agreement officially comes into force today, but the celebrations in the climate community are muted amid fears that the election of a climate change skeptic as U.S. president could sink the deal.


Renewable energy program to add 5,000 megawatts of capacity by 2030, says environment minister
CBC News
Nov 3, 2016
A renewable energy program generating wind, hydro and solar power will add 5,000 megawatts of capacity to the province's grid, according to Environment Minister Shannon Phillips.


Greening Government
Government of Canada
Nov 2, 2016
Canada is now a leader in the fight against climate change. Both overseas and at home, we are taking action to reduce carbon pollution, spark innovation, and create jobs during what many are calling the clean energy century.


Alberta set to see most stringent carbon-pricing policy: report
Shawn McCarthy, The Globe and Mail
July 27, 2016
Alberta is set to take the lead from British Columbia in having the country’s most onerous carbon pricing, as the federal government presses all provinces to increase levies aimed at reining in greenhouse gas emissions.


Industry sees the climate change train coming, hops aboard
Tim Harper, Toronto Star
May 3, 2016
Of the challenges it has placed on the table, there can be little question the toughest will be the Liberal government’s quest to meet international global warming targets.


Forest sector vows to cut Canada's carbon emissions 30 megatonnes by 2030
Derrick Penner, Vancouver Sun
May 2, 2016
Canada’s forests are carbon sinks, and the forest-products industry argues it can use the land its companies manage to contribute the equivalent of 13 per cent of the federal government’s goals to reduce carbon emissions.


Pembina seeks to avert huge LNG polluter
Elizabeth McSheffrey, National Observer
May 2, 2016
As it stands, the Pacific NorthWest LNG project is lined up to become one of the worst carbon polluters in Canada.


Best-case scenario falls short of Canada's 2030 GHG reduction goal
Bruce Cheadle, The Canadian Press
April 27, 2016
A new study of current and planned emission reduction policies under a best-case scenario finds that Canada still falls well short of meeting its international climate promises.


Alberta’s carbon tax bringing Canada closer to new pipeline, Notley says
Justin Giovannetti and Kelly Cryderman, The Globe and Mail
April 26, 2016
Canadians are closer to seeing a new pipeline built in this country than at any point in the past year, Alberta Premier Rachel Notley said on Tuesday, days before she marks her first year in office.


Economists Challenge Provinces to Make Carbon Pricing Revenue Work for All Canadians
Canada's Ecofiscal Commission, Marketwired
April 06, 2016
In a report released today, Canada's Ecofiscal Commission calls on Canada's provinces to make wise choices in how they recycle the revenue from carbon pricing. Provinces are faced with many options and trade-offs; the report shows that, done right, revenue recycling can make the economy and environment work better for all Canadians.


Canada, U.S. target methane in bid to curb climate change
Shawn McCarthy, The Globe and Mail
March 8, 2016
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and President Barack Obama are expected to commit their two countries to slash methane emissions from the oil and gas industry by at least 40 per cent as part of a bilateral approach to curb climate change.


Opinion: Canadians in the dark on continental climate strategy
Gordon Laxer, The Vancouver Sun
March 8, 2016
Behind the glamour of the vogue power couple from Canada being hosted by President Obama for a state dinner at the White House on Thursday, lies a secret continental climate strategy the two leaders will reportedly sign on to.


Carbon tax conundrum: Christy Clark has a tough sell convincing premiers to follow B.C.'s lead
Richard Zussman, CBC News
March 7, 2016
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau came to Vancouver for climate change talks with provincial and territorial leaders with one ambitious goal: a national carbon tax. What the prime minister has walked away with is a commitment from the premiers to spend the next six months discussing how such a tax is possible.


PCs’ Brown swallows the carbon Kool-Aid
Jerry Agar, Toronto Sun
March 7, 2016
Having already lost two successive elections they should have been able to win against the spendthrift, incompetent Liberal government in Ontario, the Progressive Conservatives seem to be finding ways to do it again.


Osler Resources

The following Osler resources provide further insight into climate change policy in Canada, with relevance to Canadian businesses.

Ontario introduces sweeping changes to environmental legislation 
Richard King, Chris Barnett, Jennifer Fairfax, Isabelle Crew, Robbie Cohen
Aug 6, 2020
On July 21, 2020, the COVID-19 Economic Recovery Act, 2020 (Bill 197) received Royal Assent. Bill 197 amends multiple statutes as part of the Ontario government’s efforts to stimulate the economy by simplifying regulatory processes across various industries.


Government of Canada enacts changes to environmental assessment processes
Martin Ignasiak, Sander Duncanson, Richard King, Justin Fontaine 
July 17, 2019
On June 21, 2019, the federal government of Canada (Canada) passed Bill C-69, new legislation that will materially reform the federal environmental assessment regime in Canada. 


Ontario Court of Appeal upholds constitutionality of federal carbon pricing regime 
Richard King, Jennifer Fairfax, Tommy Gelbman
July 15, 2019
On June 28, 2019, the Ontario Court of Appeal rendered its advisory opinion regarding the constitutional validity of the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act (the GGPPA) — colloquially known as the federal “carbon tax.” In a 4-1 decision, the majority held that the GGPPA is constitutional. The Ontario government has said that it will appeal the decision to the SCC.


Saskatchewan Court of Appeal upholds constitutionality of federal carbon pricing regime
Tommy Gelbman, Jan Nitoslawski
May 7, 2019
On May 3, 2019, the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal (the Court) rendered its lengthy advisory opinion regarding the constitutional validity of the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act (the GGPPA). In a 3-2 split decision, the majority held that the GGPPA was constitutional; the minority concluded that it was not. In this Osler Update, we summarize the most salient aspects of the decision to outline how the legal debate is likely to unfold.


Alberta's Renewable Electricity Program continues to attract competitive interest — Alberta announces results of Rounds 2 and 3
Paula Olexiuk, Jessica Kennedy, Cassandra Richards
December 18, 2018
On December 17, 2018, the Government of Alberta announced the results of Rounds 2 and 3 of the Alberta Renewable Electricity Program (REP) competition. The REP is intended to encourage the development of 5,000 megawatts (MW) of renewable electricity generation capacity to support Alberta’s goal of producing 30% of the total electricity generated annually in Alberta from renewable energy resources by 2030. 


Alberta Electric System Operator launches Rounds 2 and 3 of Renewable Electricity Program
Paula Olexiuk, Dana Saric, Courtney Bohn
April 6, 2018
On March 29, 2018, the Alberta Electric System Operator (AESO) launched Rounds 2 and 3 of its Renewable Electricity Program (REP). The REP is intended to incentivize the development of renewable energy projects in Alberta through a series of competitive processes aimed at adding 5,000 megawatts (MW) of renewable generating capacity to the system. 


First of its kind — Ontario NDP tables civil liability for climate change bill
Maureen Killoran Q.C., Colin Feasby, Matthew Huys
April 3, 2018
On March 26, 2018, Ontario NDP MPP Peter Tabuns introduced Bill 21: “an Act respecting civil liability for climate-related harms,” which seeks to:  (i) impose civil liability on companies engaged in fossil fuel production; and (ii) “enhance legal tools” to ensure that such companies “contribute their fair share to paying for the harms to which their products contribute and for the necessary steps to prevent future harms.” Bill 21 passed first reading on March 26. No date for the second reading of the bill has been set.


Changes to federal impact assessments, energy regulator and waterway regulation (Bills C-68 and C-69)
Martin Ignasiak, Sander Duncanson, Jessica Kennedy
Feb. 12, 2018
The Canadian government introduced Bill C-68 and C-69, which introduce several major changes to Canada’s federal regime for the assessment of federally regulated projects and regulation of waterways.


Alberta’s Renewable Electricity Program – Competition exceeds expectations
Simon C. Baines, Martin Ignasiak, Terri-Lee Oleniuk
Dec. 13, 2017
In 2017, the Alberta Electric System Operator (AESO) commenced the first Renewable Electricity Program (REP) competition in Alberta, which is a result of Alberta’s 2015 Climate Leadership Plan.


Climate change — Why boards need to be proactive
Andrew MacDougall, John M. Valley
May 17, 2017
Climate change and its potential impact are becoming increasingly relevant across the globe. The boardrooms of corporate Canada need to be attuned to this challenging reality and must consider the potential long-term impact, risks and opportunities of climate change for the organizations they oversee.


Looking ahead: Climate change as a board issue
Andrew MacDougall
May 3, 2017
Climate change is an important area of board oversight, encompassing potential long-term physical impacts on operations, risks and opportunities, as well as the potential for rapid acceleration of change and crisis.


New Alberta wind energy guidelines include prescriptive environmental requirements
Martin Ignasiak, Terri-Lee Oleniuk, Jeremy Barretto, Jessica Kennedy
Feb 2 2017
Alberta Environment and Parks released its long-anticipated Wildlife Directive for Alberta Wind Energy Projects which includes a summary of potential wildlife issues associated with wind energy developments in Alberta.


Climate change law moves into high gear
Elliot A. Smith, Paula Olexiuk, Rebecca Hall-McGuire, Kevin Lemke
Dec 6, 2016
Climate change regulation has moved to the forefront of policy and regulatory issues facing governments as pressure mounts for global leaders to meet the commitments made at the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris in December 2015.


Getting the Deal Through: Electricity Regulation
Richard J. King
Nov 28, 2016
The electricity markets in Canada, unlike the United States, are regulated primarily at the provincial level and not at the federal level. In this article, which originally appeared in Getting the Deal Through, Richard King, a partner in Osler’s Regulatory, Environmental, Aboriginal and Land Practice Group, outlines the regulation and business of electricity generation, distribution, transmission and supply in Ontario.


Saskatchewan refuses approval after first wind energy project Environmental Impact Assessment
Jeremy Barretto, Terri-Lee Oleniuk, Kenza Salah
Sep 22, 2016
On September 19, 2016, the Saskatchewan Minister of the Environment refused environmental approval for the Chaplin Energy Project (Project). The proposed Project is a 177 megawatt (MW) wind facility that is located near the Rural Municipality of Chaplin, 200 kilometres west of Regina. This was the first Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for a wind project in Saskatchewan.


Alberta’s carbon tax – Bill 20: the Climate Leadership Implementation Act
Paula Olexiuk, Lorne Carson, Dana Saric, Komal Jatoi, Kevin Lemke
Jun 1, 2016
On May 24, 2016, Alberta’s Environment and Parks Minister Shannon Phillips introduced Bill 20: the Climate Leadership Implementation Act, which implements the carbon levy on Albertans and Alberta businesses that the government previously announced under its Climate Change Leadership Plan.


Renewable Energy and Climate Change: Canada’s New Frontier
Paula Olexiuk, Dana Saric, Jeremy Barretto, Jennifer Fairfax, Elliot A. Smith
Jan 28, 2016
Climate change presents environmental, political, social and economic challenges worldwide. As the pressure mounts for global leaders to take action to meet the commitments they made at the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris in December 2015, Canada’s provincial governments are adopting policies to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the absence of a national climate change strategy.


Alberta’s New Climate Change Leadership Plan
Nov 2015

In advance of Premier Notley’s meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the Paris Climate Change conference later this month, Alberta’s New Democratic government has dramatically bolstered its climate change management strategies.


Upcoming Developments in Alberta’s Carbon Emissions Regulations
June 2015

On June 25, 2015, Alberta’s newly elected NDP government announced plans to increase the cost of emitting greenhouse gases in the province by imposing more stringent emission reduction targets and increasing the costs of exceeding such targets. By 2017, large emitters will be required to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by 20% while carbon levies will double from $15 per tonne to $30 per tonne.


The New Normal of Carbon Pricing: Ontario to Unveil a Cap-and-Trade System in an Effort to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Apr 14, 2015

On April 13, 2015, Premier Kathleen Wynne announced that Ontario will enter into a cap-and-trade agreement with Québec in an effort to curb greenhouse gas emissions. As the industry looks to adapt to a new cap-and-trade regime, businesses must prepare for the “new normal” of carbon pricing in Ontario.


British Columbia Proposes Greenhouse Gas Industrial Reporting and Control Act
Oct 22, 2014

On October 20, 2014, British Columbia Environment Minister Mary Polak tabled the province’s first bill targeting industrial greenhouse gas emissions, in keeping with the province’s political commitment to develop the liquefied natural gas industry only if it can be done with safe development standards and satisfactory environmental protection protocols.


Change is in the Air: Ontario Closer to a Cap-and-Trade System
Feb 21, 2013

On January 21, 2013, Ontario’s Minister of the Environment posted the Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reductions in Ontario: A Discussion Paper on the Environmental Registry. This discussion paper is the latest indication that the government is ready to pursue a greenhouse gas reduction strategy that involves a cap-and-trade system.


U.S. Advisory Committee Releases Draft Climate Change Report for Public Consultation
Jan 23, 2013

On January 11, 2013, the U.S. National Climate Assessment and Development Advisory Committee released a draft Climate Assessment Report open for public commentary until April 12, 2013. It is expected that this report will shape the policy disclosure for years to come, both in the United States and Canada.


Challenge to Changes in the Feed-in Tariff Program Dismissed by Divisional Court
Sept 12, 2012

In its decision in SkyPower CL I LP et al v. Minister of Energy issued on September 10, 2012, the Divisional Court dismissed the Applicants’ assertions that the Minister of Energy and the Ontario Power Authority had acted unreasonably in failing to process applications in accordance with the Feed-in Tariff (FIT) rules and the changes to the FIT rules were unfair, discriminatory and ultra vires the enabling legislation.