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Canada has signed the Paris Agreement and made other international commitments to doing our fair share of what is needed to keep overall global warming to the Paris Agreement limit of well below 2ºC, and to aim for 1.5ºC, to avoid devastating climate change. However, we have not yet progressed far in translating these commitments into implications for decision making on proposed undertakings with significant implications for meeting those commitments.

Clarifying those implications and determining how best to incorporate them in deliberations and decision making is overdue and now imperative. The federal government’s new Impact Assessment Act, which is now proceeding through Parliament’s legislative process, stands to require that all assessments decisions be based in part on evaluation of the extent to which the effects of the designated project hinder or contribute to the Government of Canada’s ability to meet its environmental obligations and its commitments in respect of climate change. (Impact Assessment Act, section 63(e)).

In this report, we present the findings of an initial effort to delineate and address the gap between Paris and projects. We set out the needed steps and their main implications, especially for new assessment law, regulation and policy. The steps are not fully defined and many components include a range of possible options. Our intent and expectations have not been to deliver final answers but to establish a firm basis for informed conversation of a matter of pressing importance. The challenges identified in this report are numerous and demanding but reasonably clear.

Our main findings and recommendations are summarized in part 5, the concluding section of the report.