From Paris to Projects Clarifying the Implications of Canada’s Climate Change Mitigation Commitments for the Planning and Assessment of Projects and Strategic Undertakings (Summary Report)

Paris to Projects, January 2019

32 Pages Posted: 28 Jan 2020

See all articles by Robert B. Gibson

Robert B. Gibson

University of Waterloo - School of Environment, Resources and Sustainability

Karine Peloffy

Quebec Center for Environmental Law

Daniel Horen Greenford

Department of Geography Planning and Environment

Meinhard Doelle

World Maritime University (WMU); Dalhousie University - Schulich School of Law; Dalhousie University - Marine and Environmental Law Institute

H. Damon Matthews

Geography, Planning and Environment

Christian Holz

Carleton University - Department of Geography and Environmental Studies; Climate Equity Reference Project

Kiri Staples

University of Waterloo, School of Environment, Resources and Sustainability

Bradley Wiseman

University of Montreal

Frédérique Grenier

Independent

Date Written: January 23, 2019

Abstract

By signing the Paris Agreement, Canada made a commitment to do our fair share to limit global average temperature rise to “well below 2°C” relative to pre-industrial levels, and to pursue “efforts to limit the increase to 1.5°C.” The federal Impact Assessment Act that is now before Parliament requires consideration of whether assessed undertakings would “hinder or contribute to” meeting Canada’s climate change commitments.

So far, however, Canada has done little to define what the Paris Agreement entails for planning, assessment and decision making on projects and other undertakings with significant implications for meeting the Paris commitments. That leaves a serious gap in law, policy and practice between Canada’s commitments and the assessment of major undertakings.

Assessments are an important venue for proactive climate change mitigation. They guide decision making on major extractive and infrastructure projects and other undertakings that will entrench existing practices or drive key transitions for many decades. If these assessments are to contribute to meeting our climate change mitigation commitments, we need to understand what meeting those commitments entails – how far we have to go and what we have to do to close the gap between our current efforts and our promised accomplishments.

To inform serious efforts to fill that gap, this paper examines

• what the Paris Agreement’s temperature goals imply for global and Canadian GHG reduction targets in light of “fair share” principles and feasible pathways;

• what is needed to raise Canadian climate change mitigation ambitions to the Paris Agreement level, and ensure sufficiently strengthened and clarified targets, frameworks and applied tools to inform evaluations of particular undertakings; and

• how to translate these needs and tools into well-specified and authoritative requirements for effective application under federal assessment law.

Our intent has not been to deliver final answers but to establish a reasonably firm working base for comparing what we are doing with what is needed to meet our Paris commitments.

Keywords: Paris Agreement, Climate Change, Impact Assessment, Canada, Projects, Pathways

Suggested Citation

Gibson, Robert B. and Peloffy, Karine and Horen Greenford, Daniel and Doelle, Meinhard and Matthews, H. Damon and Holz, Christian and Staples, Kiri and Wiseman, Bradley and Grenier, Frédérique, From Paris to Projects Clarifying the Implications of Canada’s Climate Change Mitigation Commitments for the Planning and Assessment of Projects and Strategic Undertakings (Summary Report) (January 23, 2019). Paris to Projects, January 2019. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3511925

Robert B. Gibson (Contact Author)

University of Waterloo - School of Environment, Resources and Sustainability ( email )

200 University Ave. W.
Waterloo, Ontario N2L 3G1
Canada

Karine Peloffy

Quebec Center for Environmental Law ( email )

454 Laurier East Avenue
Montreal, Quebec H2J 1E7
Canada

Daniel Horen Greenford

Department of Geography Planning and Environment ( email )

1455 de Maisonneuve Blvd. West
H 1225-22
Montreal, Quebec H3G 1M8
Canada

Meinhard Doelle

World Maritime University (WMU) ( email )

Fiskehamnsgatan 1
P. O. Box 500
Malmö, Skane 20124
Sweden

Dalhousie University - Schulich School of Law ( email )

6061 University Avenue
6061 University Ave
Halifax, Nova Scotia B3H 4H9
Canada

Dalhousie University - Marine and Environmental Law Institute ( email )

6061 University Avenue
Halifax, Nova Scotia B3H 4H9
Canada

H. Damon Matthews

Geography, Planning and Environment ( email )

1455 de Maisonneuve Blvd. West
H 1225-22
Montreal, Quebec H3G 1M8
Canada

Christian Holz

Carleton University - Department of Geography and Environmental Studies ( email )

1125 colonel By Drive
Ottawa, Ontario K1S 5B6
Canada

Climate Equity Reference Project ( email )

United States

HOME PAGE: http://https://climateequityreference.org

Kiri Staples

University of Waterloo, School of Environment, Resources and Sustainability

Waterloo
Canada

Bradley Wiseman

University of Montreal

Canada

Frédérique Grenier

Independent

No Address Available
United States

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