Environment

Principles

God's love and care for creation is evident throughout the Bible.  In Genesis, God declared good each new part of creation. God has given humans the responsibility to be stewards and to care for his creation.

The Issue

From local decisions about the disposal of garbage to national discussions about biodiversity and air pollution, environmental issues affect all Canadians. The fisheries crises over the past decade have underlined the need to protect and maintain Canada's natural resources. North Americans consume far more energy per capita than any other region of the globe, more than twice the per capita consumption of Europeans.[1] Generally, energy consumption depletes natural resources and results in greenhouse gas emissions.

Issues such as acid rain, global warming, endangered species, deforestation and water  pollution have generated national debate, civil disobedience and even violence.

 

Footnote

[1] World Resources Institute, 1998, World Resources 1998-99: A Guide to the Global Environment in Statistic’s Canada’s Human Activity and the Environment Ottawa, June 2000, p. 5.

 

Current Status

On October 19, 2006, the Conservative government introduced Bill C-30, Canada’s Clean Air Act.  The bill was not received well by opposition parties and has been amended by an all-party committee and is currently awaiting presentation to the House of Commons.

Canada has adopted many international agreements, conventions and treaties on environmental issues. Most recently, Canada has signed on to the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, agreeing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Biological Diversity. Canada also works closely with the United States and Mexico in the Commission for Environmental Cooperation under the North American Agreement on Environmental Cooperation.

Provincial and federal governments share jurisdiction over environmental issues. The Environmental Harmonization Accord was signed by all federal, provincial and territorial governments in 1998, except Quebec, in an agreement to work together to set standards for the environment. The Accord sets national standards on substances like smog, dioxins and mercury.
 
According to the OECD, Canada’s performance on most environmental indicators is steadily declining.  For example, Canadians are increasing their water and energy consumption, there has been an increase in nuclear and hazardous waste, more species have become endangered, more trees are being cut down, and there is a rise in the number of motor vehicles.  Although Canada is not doing well in terms of the indicators already mentioned, it is reducing air pollution, improving sewage treatment, and reducing municipal waste.  Canada has also increased its recycling and the number of parks, as well as ensuring that there is a decrease in the production of ozone-depleting substances. [2]

Footnote

[2] Canada vs. the OECD: An Environmental Comparison, Executive Summary (2001)  [8 June 2005].


 

Statistics

Statistics Canada has been studying air quality, greenhouse gas emissions and water quality. They released their first annual study in December 2005. They found that Canada's performace was poor in these three areas.

Air quality is decreasing as ground level ozone increased 16% between 1990 and 2003. Ground level ozone is a key component of smog. The increase is particularly pronounced in southern Ontario.

Greenhouse gas emissions rose 24% from 1990 to 2003, and in 2003 were 32% above the target set by the Kyoto Protocol for 2008 to 2012. Alberta and Ontario had the highest emissions of all provinces in 2003. Saskatchewan, New Brunswick and Alberta had the highest percentage increases in emissions compared with 1990.

Freshwater quality was assessed at numerous sites. Fewer than half the sites had quality that was considered "good."

 

What You Can Do

As an individual:

  • Recycle materials that have the recycle sign on them
  • Reuse materials
  • Reduce the amount of garbage that you throw out
  • Limit the amount that you use your motor vehicle, by walking or using other means of transportation or carpooling.
  • Buy environmentally friendly products
  • Become familiar with your municipal system of disposing of waste in order to become an informed citizen
  • Donate your computer, vehicle, clothing, etc. to someone or to a program that will give it to someone who needs it, rather than throwing it out
  • Encourage your employer to have a recycling program

As a citizen:

  • Support your municipal recycling program
  • Encourage all levels of government to consider the environmental impact of laws and policies

Resources