The environment minister, David Anderson, announced the funding of a new action plan on 19 February. The plan takes the form of a 10-year regulatory road map for cleaner vehicles and fuels, initial measures to reduce smog causing emissions from industrial sectors, improvements to the cross country network of pollutant monitoring stations and expansion of the public reporting by industry on pollutant releases.

The plan proposes action in three different areas: transportation, monitoring and reporting, promising to “deliver cleaner air to 30 million Canadians and ensure Canada meets its commitments to implement the Canada-US Ozone Annex signed in December 2000. The Annex includes commitments by both countries to dramatically reduce the smog-causing pollutants nitrogen oxides (NOx) and volatile organic compounds that cause ground-level ozone to form and create health problems in both nations (see related story).

On transportation, the largest contributor to air pollution in Canada, according to the government, there will be a $48.4 million (US$31.4 million) investment over the next four years towards implementing new emissions standards for vehicles and engines and the fuels powering them. The funds will help Canada meet new obligations already in place in the US for reducing NOx emissions from passenger cars by 88% and up to 95% for light-duty trucks, by 2004. Funds will be allocated to the development and implementation of regulations, laboratory tests of vehicles, maintenance programmes for heavy-duty vehicles and support for high-emitting vehicle scrapping programmes.

The environment ministry also proposes new regulations to reduce sulphur in on-road diesel fuel to 15 parts per million by 2006, down from an average of 320 parts per million at present, and for working to reduce sulphur in off-road diesel fuel, home heating and industrial fuel oils. Requiring companies to provide information on their use of methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE), is another proposal.

On monitoring air pollution, more than $29 million (US$19 million), will be spent over the next five years on establishing up to 10 new monitoring stations, refurbishing about 50 critical ones and replacing ageing instrumentation. New samplers will also be added to existing sites to provide more detailed data on levels and components of particulate.

The third major element of the plan is a $23 million (US$15 million) expansion of the National Pollutant Release Inventory (NPRI), the nation’s only nationwide, publicly-accessible inventory of pollutants. There will also be almost CA$20 million ($13 million) for reducing NOx and VOC emissions from industrial sectors and products and developing a regional risk analysis to characterise major sources of smog in Canada.

“Last spring I launched the Clean Air strategy and today I’m delivering on our promises,” Anderson said. “That strategy included steps to reduce trans-boundary pollution, to ensure cleaner transportation, to reduce the emission of smog pollutants from industrial sectors, to initiate more clean air science and to help Canadians and communities who want to take their own clean air actions.”

The investment follows October’s announced spending of $1.1 billion (US$ 732 million) to put Canada back on the path to Kyoto commitments on greenhouse gas emissions (see related story). However, the latest government figures show that greenhouse gas emissions in 1998 were 19% above the level set under the Kyoto Protocol, placing Canada’s targets in severe doubt (see related story)

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