Strategic Impact Assessment on Climate Change in Project and Regional IA

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Impact Assessment Act, Climate Change, Regulatory Process, Canada


The following post has been prepared jointly with Professor Bob Gibson at the University of Waterloo, and Karine Péloffy at the Centre Québécois du Droit de L’environnement. The work is a small part of a broader research collaboration on the integration of climate change into EA funded by the Metcalf Foundation and SSHRC.

For decades now, successive the Canadian federal governments have been making international and domestic commitments to climate change mitigation. So far, the record of achievement has been poor. Among the signs of inattention to effective action is that no Canadian government has made a serious attempt to define the implications of our broad commitments for planning and decision making about particular undertakings. As a result, we have been assessing and approving major projects without informed evaluation of whether or not their attributable lifetime greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions would be in line with meeting our commitments.

Thankfully, that may be about to change. In its June 2017 discussion paper on environmental assessment process reform, the current federal government proposed an approach to cumulative effects issues that includes “[c]onducting strategic assessments that explain the application of environmental frameworks to activities subject to federal oversight and regulation, starting with one for climate change.” Undertaking such strategic assessments has been a prime recommendation of many participants in the federal assessment processes reform exercise.