Canadian Environmental Protection Act


Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) today released a discussion paper, “A Clean Electricity Standard in support of a net-zero electricity sector” (the Discussion Paper), as part of its first steps in developing and consulting on a Clean Electricity Standard (CES) under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999. This bulletin summarizes key details of the Discussion Paper and provides important information on ECCC’s consultation on developing a CES.   Purpose. The Discussion Paper indicates that its purpose is to support the government’s intention to introduce regulations to achieve a net-zero electricity system by 2035 and invite comments regarding the scope and design of the CES. The Discussion Paper notes that Canada’s electricity system is currently 82% non-emitting but remains Canada’s 4th largest source of emissions, accounting for 8.4% of total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in 2019.   Proposed CES Regulations. The Discussion Paper notes that carbon pricing will be insufficient to ensure that the electricity sector achieves net-zero emissions by 2035 or likely even by 2050. Therefore, a nation-wide CES regulation will complement carbon pricing by requiring the phase-out of all conventional fossil fuel electricity generation and incentivizing fuel switching in other sectors. The scope and design of the CES regulations will also need to provide enough compliance flexibility to allow for the use of natural gas for emergency events, back-up power to complement renewables, and supplying power during seasonal peaks of demand. The proposed CES regulations may, among other things: apply to all sources of emitting electricity generation that sell to the grid; transition the electricity sector to net-zero by 2035 while providing increased supply of electricity to support electrification and the role of available technologies in the provision of clean power to Canadians; be stringent enough to achieve its objectives while including compliance flexibility, such as robust GHG offsets, and allow for the…