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Terms of Reference for Conducting a Strategic Assessment of Climate Change

1. Context

The Government is undertaking a Strategic Assessment of Climate Change to provide guidance on how Canada’s climate change commitments should be considered in impact assessments.

This strategic assessment will provide guidance relevant to environmental assessments under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012. It will also provide guidance for impact assessments under the proposed Impact Assessment Act if it becomes law.

The Strategic Assessment of Climate Change will be developed under the authority of the Department of the Environment Act, but will adhere as closely as possible to the provisions in the proposed Impact Assessment Act, including the obligations to:

  • take into account any scientific information and Indigenous knowledge provided;
  • make the information used available to the public; and
  • ensure the public is provided with an opportunity to participate meaningfully.

Under the proposed Impact Assessment Act, the impact assessment must take into account the extent to which the project’s effects will hinder or contribute to Canada’s ability to meet its climate change commitments and the environment’s potential impact on the project, including as a result of climate change.

The Strategic Assessment of Climate Change will be an evergreen document that can be updated over time to reflect relevant changes in climate change policy and targets.

2. Objectives

The Strategic Assessment of Climate Change will provide guidance to proponents, stakeholders, Indigenous Peoples and decision-makers on how climate change policies and commitments should be considered in impact assessments. Central to this work is engagement with provinces and territories.

3. Approach to Conducting the Strategic Assessment of Climate Change

In conducting the Strategic Assessment of Climate Change, ECCC will:

  • Convene a Provincial/Territorial working group to provide information, advice, and feedback in the development of the Strategic Assessment of Climate Change (further details on the working group in section 5);
  • Arrange for multi-stakeholder input and compile the results of engagement to inform the approach and assessment;
  • Provide an opportunity for the public to comment on a draft Strategic Assessment of Climate Change; and
  • Publish a final Strategic Assessment of Climate Change.

4. Content of the Strategic Assessment of Climate Change

The Strategic Assessment of Climate Change will include, at a minimum, the following guidance:

1) Quantification of a project’s GHG emissions

The Strategic Assessment of Climate Change will provide an approach to quantifying the GHG emissions of proposed projects. This will include clarifying:

  • the approach to estimate direct and upstream GHG emissions;
  • that downstream emissions will not be assessed; and
  • how avoided emissions, GHG offsets, and carbon sinks could be factored into estimates of GHG emissions.

2) Consideration of climate change in the planning phase of a project review

Under the proposed Impact Assessment Act, a planning phase would be used to confirm whether an impact assessment of a project is required, the type of assessment (i.e. Agency-led review or Panel review) and the factors to be considered in the assessment. The Government is developing Information Requirements and Time Management Regulations for the proposed Impact Assessment Act to set out the requirements of an initial project description at the planning phase. The Strategic Assessment of Climate Change will provide additional guidance on the information that could be used to support the consideration of climate change at the planning stage. This guidance could include:

  • an explanation of how applicable federal, provincial or territorial GHG laws, regulations and policies will be considered;
  • the roles of best available technology and best environmental practices economically feasible to mitigate emissions; and
  • significance of the level of emissions.

3) Consideration of climate change in the impact assessment phase of a project review

For projects that proceed to an assessment whether under existing environmental assessment regimes or under the proposed Impact Assessment Act, the Strategic Assessment of Climate Change will provide guidance on the information needed to assess the GHG emissions of the project as well as other climate change considerations. This guidance could include:

  • how to consider applicable federal, provincial, or territorial GHG laws, regulations and policies, and international climate commitments;
  • when upstream GHG emissions will be assessed; and
  • how to account for the use of best available technology and best environmental practices and innovation.

Over time, ECCC may supplement the Strategic Assessment of Climate Change with additional guidance documents to provide further details on key elements of the Strategic Assessment of Climate Change, such as guidance on methodologies for estimating project GHG emissions.

5. Engagement

5.1 Working Group

ECCC will convene a Provincial/Territorial Working Group to provide information, advice and feedback to ECCC during the development of the Strategic Assessment of Climate Change. The Provincial/Territorial Working Group will be open to all provincial and territorial governments.

ECCC will send invitations to provincial and territorial members of the Canadian Council of Ministries of the Environment.

ECCC will request that each province and territory assign one official to the group, and that those officials represent departments or agencies with responsibility for climate change and environmental assessments.

5.2 Working Group Meetings

The Provincial/Territorial Working Group will meet at least three times during the course of the Strategic Assessment of Climate Change. Members will be able to attend in person or remotely. ECCC’s Director General of the Energy and Transportation Directorate and ECCC’s Director General of the Fisheries Act and Impact Assessment Team will co-chair the Working Group meetings. Working Group members will be given reasonable notice of meetings, and be provided with the necessary background materials ahead of time.

The first meeting will be an introductory session on the Strategic Assessment of Climate Change to:

  • provide an overview of comments received as a result of the Strategic Assessment of Climate Change Discussion Paper;
  • provide an overview on how climate change features in the proposed Impact Assessment Act;
  • discuss working group planning: schedules, expectations, and work plans; and
  • seek initial views and guidance on:
    • the approach to quantifying the GHG emissions of a project; and
    • considering climate change in planning and impact assessment.

Working Group members will be provided one week for comments on the materials presented and discussed during the Working Group Meetings.

5.3 Indigenous Engagement

Recognizing the unique experiences of Indigenous Peoples with respect to climate change, ECCC will seek their views and input. This engagement will be flexible and goal-oriented, and will seek to avoid duplicating other Indigenous engagement initiatives related to the proposed Impact Assessment Act.

6. Timelines

The intent is to complete the Strategic Assessment of Climate Change by summer 2019.

Category
Timelines

Launching the Strategic Assessment of Climate Change with the Publication of the terms of reference
February 2019

First Working Group Meeting
February 2019

Second Working Group Meeting
March 2019

Third Working Group Meeting
Late March 2019

Indigenous Engagement through Regular Information Sessions
February to May 2019

Publication of the draft Strategic Assessment of Climate Change followed by a 30-day public comment period
Late April – Late May 2019


Publication of the final Strategic Assessment of Climate Change
Summer 2019

1. Context

The Government is undertaking a Strategic Assessment of Climate Change to provide guidance on how Canada’s climate change commitments should be considered in impact assessments.

This strategic assessment will provide guidance relevant to environmental assessments under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012. It will also provide guidance for impact assessments under the proposed Impact Assessment Act if it becomes law.

The Strategic Assessment of Climate Change will be developed under the authority of the Department of the Environment Act, but will adhere as closely as possible to the provisions in the proposed Impact Assessment Act, including the obligations to:

  • take into account any scientific information and Indigenous knowledge provided;
  • make the information used available to the public; and
  • ensure the public is provided with an opportunity to participate meaningfully.

Under the proposed Impact Assessment Act, the impact assessment must take into account the extent to which the project’s effects will hinder or contribute to Canada’s ability to meet its climate change commitments and the environment’s potential impact on the project, including as a result of climate change.

The Strategic Assessment of Climate Change will be an evergreen document that can be updated over time to reflect relevant changes in climate change policy and targets.

2. Objectives

The Strategic Assessment of Climate Change will provide guidance to proponents, stakeholders, Indigenous Peoples and decision-makers on how climate change policies and commitments should be considered in impact assessments. Central to this work is engagement with provinces and territories.

3. Approach to Conducting the Strategic Assessment of Climate Change

In conducting the Strategic Assessment of Climate Change, ECCC will:

  • Convene a Provincial/Territorial working group to provide information, advice, and feedback in the development of the Strategic Assessment of Climate Change (further details on the working group in section 5);
  • Arrange for multi-stakeholder input and compile the results of engagement to inform the approach and assessment;
  • Provide an opportunity for the public to comment on a draft Strategic Assessment of Climate Change; and
  • Publish a final Strategic Assessment of Climate Change.

4. Content of the Strategic Assessment of Climate Change

The Strategic Assessment of Climate Change will include, at a minimum, the following guidance:

1) Quantification of a project’s GHG emissions

The Strategic Assessment of Climate Change will provide an approach to quantifying the GHG emissions of proposed projects. This will include clarifying:

  • the approach to estimate direct and upstream GHG emissions;
  • that downstream emissions will not be assessed; and
  • how avoided emissions, GHG offsets, and carbon sinks could be factored into estimates of GHG emissions.

2) Consideration of climate change in the planning phase of a project review

Under the proposed Impact Assessment Act, a planning phase would be used to confirm whether an impact assessment of a project is required, the type of assessment (i.e. Agency-led review or Panel review) and the factors to be considered in the assessment. The Government is developing Information Requirements and Time Management Regulations for the proposed Impact Assessment Act to set out the requirements of an initial project description at the planning phase. The Strategic Assessment of Climate Change will provide additional guidance on the information that could be used to support the consideration of climate change at the planning stage. This guidance could include:

  • an explanation of how applicable federal, provincial or territorial GHG laws, regulations and policies will be considered;
  • the roles of best available technology and best environmental practices economically feasible to mitigate emissions; and
  • significance of the level of emissions.

3) Consideration of climate change in the impact assessment phase of a project review

For projects that proceed to an assessment whether under existing environmental assessment regimes or under the proposed Impact Assessment Act, the Strategic Assessment of Climate Change will provide guidance on the information needed to assess the GHG emissions of the project as well as other climate change considerations. This guidance could include:

  • how to consider applicable federal, provincial, or territorial GHG laws, regulations and policies, and international climate commitments;
  • when upstream GHG emissions will be assessed; and
  • how to account for the use of best available technology and best environmental practices and innovation.

Over time, ECCC may supplement the Strategic Assessment of Climate Change with additional guidance documents to provide further details on key elements of the Strategic Assessment of Climate Change, such as guidance on methodologies for estimating project GHG emissions.

5. Engagement

5.1 Working Group

ECCC will convene a Provincial/Territorial Working Group to provide information, advice and feedback to ECCC during the development of the Strategic Assessment of Climate Change. The Provincial/Territorial Working Group will be open to all provincial and territorial governments.

ECCC will send invitations to provincial and territorial members of the Canadian Council of Ministries of the Environment.

ECCC will request that each province and territory assign one official to the group, and that those officials represent departments or agencies with responsibility for climate change and environmental assessments.

5.2 Working Group Meetings

The Provincial/Territorial Working Group will meet at least three times during the course of the Strategic Assessment of Climate Change. Members will be able to attend in person or remotely. ECCC’s Director General of the Energy and Transportation Directorate and ECCC’s Director General of the Fisheries Act and Impact Assessment Team will co-chair the Working Group meetings. Working Group members will be given reasonable notice of meetings, and be provided with the necessary background materials ahead of time.

The first meeting will be an introductory session on the Strategic Assessment of Climate Change to:

  • provide an overview of comments received as a result of the Strategic Assessment of Climate Change Discussion Paper;
  • provide an overview on how climate change features in the proposed Impact Assessment Act;
  • discuss working group planning: schedules, expectations, and work plans; and
  • seek initial views and guidance on:
    • the approach to quantifying the GHG emissions of a project; and
    • considering climate change in planning and impact assessment.

Working Group members will be provided one week for comments on the materials presented and discussed during the Working Group Meetings.

5.3 Indigenous Engagement

Recognizing the unique experiences of Indigenous Peoples with respect to climate change, ECCC will seek their views and input. This engagement will be flexible and goal-oriented, and will seek to avoid duplicating other Indigenous engagement initiatives related to the proposed Impact Assessment Act.

6. Timelines

The intent is to complete the Strategic Assessment of Climate Change by summer 2019.

Category
Timelines

Launching the Strategic Assessment of Climate Change with the Publication of the terms of reference
February 2019

First Working Group Meeting
February 2019

Second Working Group Meeting
March 2019

Third Working Group Meeting
Late March 2019

Indigenous Engagement through Regular Information Sessions
February to May 2019

Publication of the draft Strategic Assessment of Climate Change followed by a 30-day public comment period
Late April – Late May 2019


Publication of the final Strategic Assessment of Climate Change
Summer 2019