Bill C-30 – Climate Change Policy and Impacts on Workers

Bill C-30 – the Clean Air Act – is a strange beast – a government bill which was fundamentally re-written by the three opposition parties to finally move Canada towards a real national action plan to prevent catastrophic climate change.The media are so focused on the politics of climate change that little attention seems to have been paid to the content of Bill C-30 itself .

Most environmental organizations have responded very positively to the key elements – clear targets for greenhouse gas reduction to meet and move beyond the Kyoto commitment; hard caps on large industrial emitters set at Kyoto consistent levels; and a greenhouse gas emissions trading system.

While supporting these key elements, the CLC said that we need to deal with climate change while also protecting workers. Accordingly, we said that the plan had to include support for green job creation, Just Transition for affected workers, and room for labour input.Thanks in large measure to the efforts of NDP MP Nathan Cullen, Bill C-30 does just this.

The Bill calls for a Green Investment Bank. The Bank would collect fines from large industrial polluters who exceed emissions limits, but use all of the funds to finance job-creating investments in new green technologies and processes, and in funds to retrofit buildings for greater energy efficiency. We have here a potential key building block for a green industrial strategy.

The Bill mandates the government to develop a Just Transition plan for workers affected by greenhouse gas emission reductions. Just Transition means that affected workers and communities should be compensated for any losses.

Last, but not least, the Bill provides for the involvement of labour in turning the plan into regulations. For example, unions must be involved in the setting of new vehicle fuel efficiency standards.

We can expect the Conservatives and industry to mount a fierce campaign in favour of their cosmetic “intensity reduction” targets over the next little while, and to argue that sticking to the Kyoto targets will cost jobs.

These arguments were addressed in the CLC brief to the Committee, and responded to by the opposition parties.

Labour’s concerns were taken into account, and Bill C-30 deserves our support.

The re-printed version of the Bill is now available on the Parliamentary website:

Thanks to NDP staff economist Matt de Vlieger for the following notes and extracts from the Bill.

1. There will be a Green Investment Bank of Canada created. This will be the body that collects the fines from companies that are over their limit and hold in trust for them and remit a portion back to them if they can, within two years, demonstrate that they will invest in a GHG reducing project. After two years, the bank itself will be able to spend the money with 50% going to undefined green porjects and 50% going to a building retrofit revolving fund (this latter stipulation was added by the NDP in a friendly amendment).

63.1 (1) Within 90 days after this section comes into force, the Minister shall enter into negotiations with representatives of provincial and territorial governments, members of aborig-inal, Métis and Inuit communities, and representatives of relevant private sector companies and non-governmental organizations with the objective of creating or designating an inde- pendent agency to be known as the Green Investment Bank of Canada, which is to be responsible for monitoring and regulating the greenhouse gas emissions of large industrial emitters.
Items to be considered

(2) During the course of the negotiations, the Minister and the provincial ministers shall consider

(a) the establishment of a board to govern the affairs of the agency, to be composed of representatives from the Government of Canada, provincial governments, corporations and not-for-profit organizations;

(b) the establishment, for each large industrial emitter, of a green investment account that the agency will hold in trust for each large industrial emitter;

(c) the making of an annual deposit by each large industrial emitter to its green investment account, the amount of the deposit being calculated to take into account the value of the carbon price multiplied by the individual carbon deficit for that large industrial emitter in the preceding calendar year;

(d) the making of a proposal by a large industrial emitter to the agency in respect of a project to reduce future greenhouse gas emissions by the large industrial emitter;

(e) the evaluation by the agency of a proposal referred to in paragraph (d), the administrative requirements and other matters relating to the approval of that proposal, the withdrawal of funds from the green investment account of a large industrial emitter to finance an approved project, and the evaluation of the progress of approved projects;

(f) the criteria to be applied by the agency in deciding whether to approve a proposal referred to in paragraph (d), including criteria to ensure that approval will be granted only if the large industrial emitter can demonstrate to the satisfaction of the agency that the project contemplated by the proposal

(i) will reduce the annual greenhouse gas emissions of the large industrial emitter in an amount that is proportionate to the withdrawal of funds from the green investment account of the large industrial emitter to finance the project,

(ii) will produce annual greenhouse gas emission reductions that would not have occurred in the absence of the project,

(iii) will produce annual greenhouse gas emission reductions that will not be counted by any other person towards the reduction of its individual carbon deficit, and

(iv) will not result in an increase in greenhouse gas emissions or releases of air pollutants;

(g) the establishment of rules governing deposits and withdrawals from a green investment account, including rules providing for

(i) the promotion of early action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,

(ii) the reduction and phasing-out of withdrawals from green investment accounts, and

(iii) the transfer of funds out of a green investment account into a green investment fund managed by the agency if those funds have remained in a green investment account for a period of at least two years without being allocated to an approved project;

(h) where funds are transferred out of the green investment account of a large industrial emitter into a green industrial fund, the mandatory expenditure by the agency of those funds for the purpose of furthering the progress to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Canada, a target of 50% of which will go into a building retrofit revolving fund program, the remaining 50% to be invested in greenhouse gas reduction projects with a minimum of 80% of the funds to be spent on projects in the province or territory in which the large industrial emitter is principally situated.

(i) Funds shall be allocated in a manner that maximizes verifiable GHG emission reductions.

(i) an annual report by the Minister to both Houses of Parliament that shall include a full disclosure of the value of all green investment accounts, a description and valuation of all approved projects and a complete description of the agency’s activities in the preceding calendar year; and

(j) any other matters necessary to implement the measures referred to in paragraphs (a) to (i).
Report on negotiations

(3) The Minister shall table a report on the progress of the negotiations in both Houses of Parliament six months after this section comes into force and every six months thereafter until the conclusion of the negotiations.

2. Provision for a just transition plan for affected workers – see 103.03(1)(a)(iv) – (note: wording had to be carefully drafted as wording requiring the establishment of a fund would have resulted in amendment being inadmissible as requiring a royal recommendation).
Climate Change Plan
Plan sur les changements climatiques
Climate Change Plan

103.03 (1) Not later than May 31 in each year, from 2013 until 2050, the Minister shall prepare a Climate Change Plan that includes

(a) a description of the measures to be taken under this Act and any other Act to ensure that Canada’s domestic greenhouse gas emissions are equal to or less than the national carbon budget, including measures respecting

(i) regulated emission limits and perform-ance standards,

(ii) market-based mechanisms such as emissions trading or offsets,

(iii) spending or fiscal measures or incentives,

(iv) a just transition for workers affected by greenhouse gas emission reductions, and

(v) cooperative measures or agreements with provinces, territories or other governments;

(b) for each measure referred to in paragraph (a),

(i) the date on which it will come into effect, and

(ii) the amount of greenhouse gas emission reductions that have resulted or are expected to result for each year from 2013 to 2050, compared to the levels in the most recently available emission inventory for Canada;

(c) the projected greenhouse gas emission level in Canada for each year from 2013 to 2050, taking into account the measures referred to in paragraph (a), and a comparison of those levels with any international commitments and obligations that the government of Canada may have undertaken to fulfil;

(d) an equitable distribution of greenhouse gas emission reduction levels among the sectors of the economy that contribute to greenhouse gas emissions;

(e) a report describing the implementation of the Climate Change Plan for the previous calendar year; and

(f) a statement indicating whether each measure proposed in the Climate Change Plan for the previous calendar year has been implemented by the date projected in the Plan and, if not, an explanation of the reason why the measure was not implemented and how that failure has been or will be redressed.

3. In setting vehicle fuel consumption standards that are to be benchmarked against leading standards, there will first have to be a design development exercise involving labour organizations, environmental groups and companies in order to advise on the parameters of the standard (eg, size-based, weight-based, fleet average) and on the standard itself. This amendment was supported by all parties.

48. Section 5 of the Act is replaced by the following:
Regulations design and development

5. Prior to the publication of a proposed regulation under section 4, the Minister, the Minister of Natural Resources, the Minister of the Environment and the Minister of Industry shall undertake a regulations design and development exercise which includes participation from provinces and territories, labour organizations, environmental organizations, companies and other interested persons.

4. The NDP secured all-party support for an amendment that recognizes the substitution principle long-championed by many labour organizations. The authority granted here was limited because amendments had to be limited to “clean air” related matters and not to a broader category of toxics. We also got support for the substitution principle to be reflected in the preamble to CEPA.

10.2 The Act is amended by adding the following after section 68:
Assessment and action plan

68.1 (1) Within five years after the coming into force of Canada’s Clean Air and Climate Change Act, the Minister shall require an assessment of the following substances and an action plan for achieving their substitution:

(a) known or suspected carcinogens identified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), and which have not been identified for the assessment under section 74; and

(b) substances of concern identified by the Minister.
Current substance ceases

(2) Where a substance is slated for safe substitution, that substance shall be phased out of use within ten years after this section comes into force.

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