How to prepare for GHG reporting changes coming in Atlantic Canada this year (Part 2)

May 31, 2018 Vicki Corning

New to reporting? We can help. This is how our GHG verification process fits in with the country’s new plan to fight climate change 

 

What is being done in Atlantic Canada to fight global climate change? Strong scientific consensus now exists that the planet is warming due to human activities that release greenhouse gases (GHGs) into the atmosphere, and that we, as a society, need to move toward a low carbon economy – primarily by reducing our dependence on fossil fuels. This is going to take a global effort, but we can all do our small part.

Changes are coming to GHG reporting in Canada this year, including new regulations in the province of Nova Scotia, and a decrease in the threshold for reporting GHG emissions across the country. This decrease means that facilities or organizations that haven’t reported in the past may need to report 2017 emissions by June 1, 2018. I’ll dive into these changes shortly, once I provide some background on Canada’s strategy.

Canada has been very active in the last year, with most provinces moving forward with development of climate action strategies that include putting a price on GHG emissions. The idea of putting a price on GHG emissions, or carbon, is to create financial incentive for people to find ways to reduce their emissions. This means that, although there is financial liability associated with a business’s GHGs, there is also an opportunity to gain financially – and the system will make innovative GHG reduction solutions more financially feasible over time.

 

Most provinces in Canada have moved forward with development of climate action strategies that include putting a price on GHG emissions.

The systems differ across Canada but, with most provinces, the plan includes a combination of a fuel tax and/or an emissions cap and trade system. The federal government is also moving forward with a system of carbon pricing that will come into play in provinces where provincial governments decide not to establish their own system that meets or exceeds the federal requirements. Details of the federal program are expected later in 2018.

tweetable: Understanding your emissions profile is the first step to managing it.

As I mentioned earlier, federally the GHG reporting threshold has now been lowered to 10,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide annually. To put this into perspective, in terms of annual fuel combustion alone, 5.2 million cubic meters of natural gas or 3.7 million liters of diesel would bring you near this threshold. It is important to consider other potential sources onsite as well (wastewater or onsite landfills are a couple examples). This is a big drop from the previous threshold of 50,000 tonnes, so many facilities that did not need to quantify or report in the past are required to report 2017 emissions by June 1, 2018. This will mean more medium-size emitters should begin reviewing and understanding their GHG emissions and start thinking about how they can reduce them.

In Atlantic Canada, where I’m based, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Nova Scotia all require provincial GHG reporting for large emitters, and Nova Scotia recently announced that it will develop a province-specific cap and trade system. So far, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland, and New Brunswick have not provided details on carbon pricing – however, New Brunswick and Newfoundland do have provincial reporting requirements. In relation to the Nova Scotia program, as the first step in this program, GHG emitters releasing more than 50,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year were required to report their emissions to the province by May 1, 2018. These emissions then need to be reviewed or verified by an accredited verification body prior to Sept. 1, 2018.

 

Nova Scotia recently announced that it will develop a province-specific cap and trade system.

A verification is a form of audit, where an independent and impartial third party with expertise in GHG calculations, data management, and reporting, reviews your GHG report and supporting data – such as invoices and meter calibration records – to confirm the accuracy and completeness of your reported values. Accredited verification bodies go through an accreditation process that confirms their level of expertise in GHG auditing and sector-specific competencies, and that their processes conform to international standards.

See my colleague Nicole Flanagan’s blog on selecting a verification body for more on verification. And keep your eyes open for an upcoming blog from Stantec’s Gizem Gunal-Akgol, where she describes what the past few years of performing GHG verifications have taught her.

Many mid- to large-size industrial, manufacturing, power, and pulp and paper facilities need to provide these reports and audits annually.

Understanding your emissions profile is the first step to managing it.

 

Strong scientific consensus now exists that the planet is warming due to human activities that release greenhouse gases (GHGs) into the atmosphere, and that people need to move toward a low carbon economy.

There will also be opportunities for smaller companies and organizations to opt-in to a cap and trade system, with the potential to gain financially from free emission allowances. While voluntarily joining a regulation to save money can seem counterintuitive, overall savings can be significant, even before making any changes at a facility. The easiest way to reduce GHGs is to become more energy efficient, and those actions will also save you money in the longer term. As carbon pricing comes into force, there will be more opportunities to benefit financially from reducing your GHGs by participating in carbon trading or offsetting of emissions.  

In preparation for the evolving carbon market across Canada, it is time to get a handle on what your GHG emissions are, and what risks and opportunities exist for your organization.

About the Author

Vicki Corning

Vicki is a chemical engineer with more than a decade of experience and management expertise in environmental services. She thrives in the fast-paced environment and is motivated by her dedicated and experienced team.

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