Joint Meeting of Energy and Environment Ministers


HALIFAX -- Federal, provincial and territorial Ministers of Energy and Environment met to review important developments related to climate change and other air issues. The air issues discussed were persistent organic pollutants (POPs) and heavy metals, acid rain, ground-level ozone, and climate change.

The POPs and Heavy Metals Protocols signed by Canada earlier this year are the first major legally-binding agreements to place controls on emissions of hazardous air pollutants. Ministers confirmed that no further discussion was needed on the POPs and Heavy Metals Protocols prior to their ratification by Canada; however provinces and territories will be fully consulted should further obligations be required.

Ministers signed a Canada-wide Acid Rain Strategy which builds on the successful effort of the last decade to reduce pollutants that cause acid rain. The Strategy commits governments to establishing targets and timelines for reductions in SO2 emissions.

Ministers also fully supported negotiating an Ozone Annex under the Canada-U.S. Air Quality Agreement. Action in this area would result in reduced transboundary flows of emissions which cause ground-level ozone in Canada.

Ministers devoted a large portion of their time to climate change. Ministers reviewed progress on the National Climate Change Process that they had asked officials to implement when they last met in April, noting that 450 experts across the country were engaged through their participation on Issue Tables. They asked officials to propose a process, by Spring 1999, which will lead to a strategy to be reviewed by Ministers in late 1999.

Ministers reaffirmed the two-track approach governments were taking to address climate change – taking actions that have clear net benefits now, while systematically assessing options for measures for sustained reductions. They reviewed the first early actions identified by the Issue Tables, and highlighted the early actions being undertaken by their governments.

Ministers agreed that low carbon energy forms, such as hydroelectricity as an important renewable energy resource, can play an essential role in Canada`s domestic and international climate change strategy.

Ministers recognized the need to help Canadians understand climate change and how to address it, and approved the interim approach developed by the Public Education and Outreach Table. Ministers also reinforced the importance of a system to credit early action towards reducing greenhouse gas emissions and of having a system designed by early 1999. They also agreed on the design goals and principles that will guide the work of the Credit for Early Action Table.

Ministers also discussed the prospects for the Fourth Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP 4), including issues such as international emissions trading, the Clean Development Mechanism, joint implementation, sinks, compliance, and developing country engagement.

Attached are the Records of Decision for the meeting.

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For further information, please contact:

Michael Barluk
           Minister's Office
           Environment Canada
           (819) 953-0735

Christine MacKinnon
           Department of Technology and Environment
           Prince Edward Island
           (902) 368-5031

John Embury
           Minister's Office
           Natural Resources Canada
           (613) 996-2007

Joseph Handley
           Department of Resources, Wildlife
           and Economic Development
           Northwest Territories
           (867) 920-8691



Joint Meeting of Energy and Environment Ministers
Halifax, Nova Scotia - October 19-20, 1998




  • Ministers confirmed that no further discussions are required on the obligations contained in the POPs and Heavy Metals Protocols prior to their ratification.    


  • Should further obligations be required, provinces and territories will be fully consulted.


  • Ministers signed The Canada-Wide Acid Rain Strategy for Post-2000.



  • Ministers were informed of the path forward to negotiation of an annex on ground-level ozone with the United States under the Canada-U.S. Air Quality Agreement, and were very supportive.



  • Ministers noted that the national climate change process is fully up and running. Fifteen Issues Tables and Groups – engaging some 450 experts across the country – have been established and have commenced their analytical work.    


  • Ministers were impressed and encouraged by the caliber and broad cross section of the experts now engaged in the national process for assessing how Canada can meet its climate change challenge – they include experts from all orders of government, the academic community, environmental groups, different regions of the county and across businesses and industrial sectors.    


  • Ministers recognized the heavy demands that are being made on members of the Tables, and expressed appreciation for their extraordinary efforts. Ministers asked officials to ensure these views were passed on to Table participants.    


  • Ministers asked officials to develop, for their consideration early next year, an approach to finalize the national implementation strategy, including principles and criteria for assessing options developed by the Issues Tables.



  • Ministers agreed that low carbon energy forms, such as hydroelectricity as an important renewable energy resource, can play a very useful role as a major tool in the Canadian greenhouse gas reduction strategy    


    • Ministers underscored the need for the Issue Tables to include this approach in their development of options.        


    • Ministers emphasized the importance of Canada pursuing the recognition of this position within the framework of international negotiations, and more specifically at the Fourth Conference of the Parties.


  • Ministers reaffirmed a two-track approach to addressing climate change taking "early" actions that have clear net benefits now, while systematically assessing options for measures for sustained reductions. The main focus of the Issue Tables' work is assessing options for sustained reductions; Tables were also asked to identify, as a by-product of their ongoing discussions, "early" actions that should be considered for immediate implementation.    


  • Ministers noted that within the short period that Table members have worked together, some of the Tables were able to identify initial ideas for "early" actions for consideration.    


  • They also noted that the "early" actions identified are diverse in nature and degree of detail, and do not include all major economic sectors. Ministers recognized that this reflects that some Issue Tables were formed later than others. They encouraged Tables to continue to bring forward ideas for "early" actions as they emerge from their discussions.    


  • Ministers noted that action to address climate change often involves areas that will need to be considered in cooperation with Ministers in other portfolios.    


  • Ministers highlighted that more needs to be done to help Canadians understand climate change, and how they can address it. This is reflected in the nature of many of the "early" actions identified by the Issue Tables.    


  • Ministers agreed to the proposed recommendations in attached Annex A on the "early" actions identified by the Issues Tables (with the exception of those identified by the Public Education and Outreach Table which were considered by Ministers under a separate agenda item in conjunction with an interim strategy developed by the Table).

Engaging Canadians in action:

1.      Ministers agreed to take action to improve understanding and awareness around the
         climate change issue:

  • They encouraged further examination of specific proposals for tools to serve particular sectors (such as those identified by the Agriculture and Agri-Food Table).

2.      Ministers agreed to take action to identify best practices and effectively disseminate
         that information, including:

  • Encouraging community energy planning;    


  • Championing the installation of landfill gas recovery systems, and providing municipalities with the tools to improve landfill management decision-making.

Working with partners to promote action:

3.      Ministers emphasized the importance of improving the effectiveness of incentives for
         voluntary action:

  • They reaffirmed their commitment to providing credit for early action; and    


  • Agreed to buttress improvements in VCR Inc. by participating in recognizing good performers identified through that process.
 4.      Ministers agreed to actively encourage government suppliers and participants in
          government programs to take action and register that action with VCR Inc.                                                
           Ministers committed to explore specific opportunities for investing in greenhouse gas reducing technologies. These include technologies aimed at:

  • Reducing methane and nitrous oxide emissions from the rapidly expanding hog industry;    


  • Maximizing the potential of geological sequestration of carbon dioxide; and    


  • Reducing emissions from municipal waste.

 6.      Ministers recognized the importance of creative and effective incentives for promoting
          behavioural changes in the area of transportation, and encouraged more analysis in this

Removing barriers to action:

 7.      Ministers agreed to determine how best to develop the tools necessary to make
          informed decisions on greenhouse gas emission reductions, for example the
          development of methodologies for life-cycle analysis of CO2 for new projects.

           Ministers agreed to pursue developing the necessary criteria to enable those jurisdictions that so decide to classify electricity generated from landfill gas as "Green Power".



  • Ministers reaffirmed the importance of public education and outreach on the climate change issue to help build awareness and understanding among Canadians and motivate behaviour change to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.    


  • Ministers approved the public education and outreach interim approach. They underlined that particular provincial and territorial approaches need to be taken into consideration. Ministers directed officials, with the Issue Table, to develop early action recommendations in the following areas:
               a) expansion of successful community-based programs
               b) youth initiatives
               c) education workshops for teachers and teacher candidates
               d) community-based transportation programs
               e) education campaign for community leaders
               f) visible green projects across the country that result
                   in greenhouse gas reductions
               g) coordinated community awareness programs
               h) private sector awareness and education initiatives
               i) government house in order


  • Ministers agreed that a first set of public education early action projects are a good start to implement the interim approach. These projects include:
             a) Alberta Pilot - National Climate Change Education Initiative (elementary
                 and junior secondary) (FEESA/Destination Conservation)
             b) Climate Protection Solutions: An Internet Clearinghouse for Practical
                 Action to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions (Pembina Institute)
             c) Climate Change Teacher Support Program (secondary school)
                 (Pembina Institute)
             d) Canadian CO2 Calculator (UBC)
             e) Global Change Game (The Global Change Game, Manitoba)
             f) Climate Change 2000 (Clean Nova Scotia)
             g) The Climate Change Action Pack (Scientists and Innovators in the Schools,
                 Nova Scotia)
             h) Saskatchewan Pilot - Regional Outreach Workshop (post-Canada Country
                 Study) (Saskatchewan Research Council)


  • Ministers agreed to engage their respective cabinet colleagues in implementing the interim approach and directed their officials to pursue initiatives that would further implement the interim approach.


  • Ministers noted the progress being made by the Credit for Early Action Issue Table.    


  • Ministers endorsed the Statement of Goals and Principles for the design of a credit for early action system developed by the Table as a basis for moving forward.

The credit for early action system will be designed t

  1. Provide immediate incentives to expand and accelerate the early reduction of GHG emissions.
  3. Reduce future costs of meeting Canada's GHG obligations.
  5. Generate standard, measurable GHG credits.
  7. Provide a basis for investment in GHG emission reductions through clear definitions of the options for use of credits.

The guiding principles for the credit for early system design are that:

  1. The system will be simple.
  3. The system will be cost-effective.
  5. The system will facilitate trading.
  7. The system will include eligible reductions occurring since January 1, 1990.
  9. The system will encourage broad participation from all sectors, sources and regions.
  11. The system will be fair, equitable, and transparent.
  13. The credit for early system and other regulatory, fiscal, and economic systems will be compatible.
  15. The system will create value for users.
  17. The system will address eligible sinks and sequestration.
  19. The system will regularly measure, monitor, and report the contribution that early actions (taken under the system) make to meeting Canada's GHG obligations

  • Ministers noted, that any future system of credit for early action must be sufficiently flexible to adapt to a wide range of policy scenarios. Not all of the policy parameters will be known by the time the system is put in place in early 1999.    


  • Ministers agreed, that to the extent possible, all those taking early action that result in verifiable reductions in greenhouse gas emissions would receive credit against any future emission obligations.    


  • To provide an incentive for early actions, Ministers instructed the Table to consider, in its recommendations due the end of the year, allocating a realistic credit budget for early action.    


  • Ministers requested that the Table proceed to complete its work by the end of 1998, and that officials bring forward options and recommendations for the design of a credit for early action system for consideration by Ministers by the end of January 1999.



Voluntary initiatives are a very important element of Canada's climate change effort and Ministers are encouraged that the National Climate Change Process is working to enhance the reach of voluntary climate change initiatives such as the Voluntary Challenge and Registry and ÉcoGESte. In April, 1998, Ministers agreed that credit for early action will provide a needed incentive to further enhance voluntary efforts and created the Credit for Early Action Table to develop options for this mechanism. In addition, the Enhanced Voluntary Action Table is working to investigate other incentives and address barriers to voluntary action.

  • The Ministers supported VCR Inc's approach to-date to become the registry for early actions.    


  • The Ministers supported the Technical Advisory Committee's direction in defining and standardizing reporting requirements for participation in the VCR. The new reporting requirements will both raise the bar in terms of defining a minimum level of participation in the VCR, and improve the quality, consistency and credibility of submission.    


  • The Ministers supported VCR Inc.'s plans to introduce a new Champion recognition program and the proposed awards ceremony planned for February 1999. The Ministers also directed officials to develop for their consideration government initiatives for recognizing "good performers". These proposals are, to the fullest extent possible, to be complementary to the VCR awards initiatives.    


  • The Ministers asked that VCR Inc. Board of Directors report on progress in the Spring of 1999.    


  • The Ministers supported VCR Inc's efforts to broaden participation in the VCR and directed their officials to show leadership by publicizing government actions and to work with suppliers and partners of government to raise awareness of the climate change issue and the importance of participating in the VCR.    


  • The Ministers directed officials to work with VCR Inc. to bring forward pilot projects and innovative actions that can be promoted on VCR Inc. to raise awareness of similar opportunities and the VCR.