Policy & Regulation

By now most people have heard of the Kyoto Protocol. This international climate change agreement is just one of many government responses to the climate change challenge. The responsibility for addressing climate change is not limited to one group or level of government. Everyone has a part to play, including government regulators, public institutions, private companies and individual citizens. Government action can be taken in any number of ways including through strategic voluntary approaches, economic incentives and penalties or mandated through regulation. Find out about different responsibilities and approaches taken by government.

International: The Kyoto Protocol

Federal Government
Provincial Government
Municipal and Regional Government

The Kyoto Protocol

The Kyoto Protocol, signed in 1997 in Kyoto Japan, is the primary mechanism through which the global community is to take concrete steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

It is an international treaty that entered into force in February 2005, and obliges industrialized countries that have ratified the accord to reduce their emissions of six greenhouse gases being the major contributors to anthropogenic climate change.

The Kyoto Protocol is a crucial first step. Although scientists feel that it doesn’t go far enough, it is the most far-reaching environmental agreement ever adopted. The Kyoto Protocol is intended to mark the beginning of the move towards a global response to climate change. Under the Protocol, each industrialized country sets a binding greenhouse gas emission target to reduce emissions below 1990 levels by 2012. These targets are different for each country. Canada has ratified the Protocol which binds Canada to its emission reduction targets, mechanisms and deadlines. Canada set a 6% reduction target.

Visit UNFCCC: http://www.unfccc.int/

The Western Climate Initiative

The Western Climate Initiative (WCI) is a State/Province collaboration which was launched in February 2007 by the Governors of Arizona, California, New Mexico, Oregon and Washington to develop regional strategies to address climate change. WCI is bringing governments together to identify, evaluate and implement agreed ways to reduce greenhouse gases in the region. States and Provinces that join the WCI are committing to setting and meeting GHG reduction targets and sharing information with each other. In the spring of 2007, the Governor of Utah and the Premiers of British Columbia and Manitoba joined the Initiative. Montana joined in January, 2008, Quebec moved from Observer to Partner status in April, 2008 and Ontario became a Partner in July, 2008. Other US and Mexican states and Canadian provinces have joined as observers.

Visit Western Climate Initiative: http://www.westernclimateinitiative.org/

The Climate Registry

The Climate Registry (TCR) is a non-profit organization that provides information on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The Climate Registry establishes consistent, transparent standards throughout North America for businesses and governments to calculate, verify and publicly report their carbon footprints in a single, unified registry.

Visit The Climate Registry: http://www.theclimateregistry.org/

Midwestern Greenhouse Gas Reduction Accord

Nine Midwestern governors and two Canadian premiers have signed on to participate or observe in the Midwestern Greenhouse Gas Reduction Accord (Accord), as first agreed to in November 2007 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Realizing the unique and major impact that the Midwestern states play in the emissions of carbon, these governors wanted to institute Midwestern practicality in the debate on global warming.

While the Midwest has intensive manufacturing and agriculture sectors, making it the most coal-dependent region in North America, it also has world-class renewable energy resources and opportunities to allow it to take a lead role in solving the effects of climate change. The geographical location and ideological-centered beliefs of the Midwestern region provide its leaders with an ability to push the federal policy debate in a productive direction. Through the Accord, these governors agreed to establish a Midwestern greenhouse gas reduction program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in their states, as well as a working group to provide recommendations regarding the implementation of the Accord.

Visit MGGRA: http://www.midwesternaccord.org/

Canada’s Federal Climate Change Plan

On April 26, 2007, the Government of Canada released Turning the Corner: An Action Plan to Reduce GHGs and air pollution. According to Environment Canada, this plan is the Canadian government’s agenda to improve the environment and the health of Canadians through a series of measures to reduce emissions of GHGs and air pollutants. The plan commits the government to reducing Canada's total emissions of GHGs, relative to 2006 levels, by 20% by 2020 and by 60% to 70% by 2050.

The Turning the Corner action plan has several components, including:

  • a regulatory framework for industrial emissions of greenhouse gases and air pollutants;
  • the development of a mandatory fuel-efficiency standard for automobiles, beginning with the 2011 model year, as well as action to reduce emissions from the rail, marine, and aviation sectors, and from on-road and off-road vehicles and engines;
  • the implementation of new energy performance standards to strengthen existing energy-efficiency standards for a number of products that consume electricity, including light bulbs, in order to reduce emissions from the use of consumer and commercial products; and
  • the development of measures to improve indoor air quality.

Visit Environment Canada: http://www.ec.gc.ca/doc/virage-corner/2008-03/541_eng.htm#1

Manitoba’s Provincial Climate Change Plan

In December 2002, Canada ratified the Kyoto Protocol, which sets a target for achieving a six per cent reduction from 1990 greenhouse gas levels by the period 2008 to 2012. Although the Government of Manitoba can’t be a signatory of the Kyoto Protocol, it has committed to working with citizens, communities and businesses to reduce net emissions in Manitoba to below 1990 levels by 2012.

In 2005 Manitoba released, Green and Growing - the Manitoba government’s green strategic framework. The Manitoba Government has undertaken a range of efforts in conjunction with businesses, Manitoba Hydro and Manitoba communities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, including investing in knowledge, promoting technology development and innovation, and encouraging action in all sectors of the Manitoba economy.

Visit Government of Manitoba STEM Site: http://www.gov.mb.ca/stem/

Municipal and Regional Plans

Many cities and towns have taken up the challenge of tackling climate change and have implemented strategies to reduce GHG emissions. Some municipalities have started by reducing the GHG emissions from their own activities, such as vehicle fleets or municipal buildings. Others have implemented awareness campaigns or even incentive programs to encourage residents to reduce their individual or business GHG emissions.

The Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) has created the Partners for Climate Protections (PCP) program. The PCP program is a network of 167 Canadian municipal governments who have committed to reducing GHGs and acting on climate change. At least nine Manitoba communities are participants in the PCP program. PCP receives financial support from the Green Municipal Fund as part of the Capacity Building Program.

PCP is the Canadian component of ICLEI's Cities for Climate Protection network that comprises more then 800 communities world wide making the same efforts.

Visit Federation of Canadian Municipalities: http://www.sustainablecommunities.fcm.ca/Partners-for-Climate-Protection/