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Bill C-15, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act (the Act), received Royal Assent on June 21, 2021. The Act affirms the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) as a universal international human rights instrument applicable in Canadian law and seeks to provide a framework for its implementation in Canada. This bulletin provides an overview of the implications and key aspects of the Act. Implications of the Act. The Act is widely seen as the first step in the domestic implementation of UNDRIP in Canada and follows similar legislation adopted by British Columbia in 2019. The Act does not itself implement UNDRIP into Canadian law but provides a pathway for its adoption and application, commensurate with Canadian law and the framework for recognizing the rights of Indigenous peoples provided under Canada’s Constitution. It is not yet clear to what extent Canadian law will be made consistent with certain provisions of UNDRIP, specifically the right of Indigenous peoples to free, prior, and informed consent (FPIC) for actions that may affect their rights, resources, and traditional territories. It is, however, probable that the use of UNDRIP as a tool for the interpretation of rights and statutes is likely to increase, in light of the Act, as laws are amended and adopted, in order to ensure or improve consistency with UNDRIP. Rights of Indigenous peoples. Section 2(2) provides that the Act upholds, and does not abrogate or derogate from, the rights of Indigenous peoples recognized and affirmed by section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982.   Consistency with UNDRIP. Section 5 provides that the Government of Canada must take all measures to ensure that the laws of Canada are consistent with UNDRIP. Action Plan. Section 6 provides that the Minister designated by the Governor in Council pursuant to section 3 (the Minister), must prepare…

Canada yesterday filed its update to its nationally determined contribution (NDC) under the Paris Agreement with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) secretariat. The updated NDC commits Canada to reduce GHG emissions by its previously announced target of 40-45% below 2005 levels by 2030, reaching net-zero emissions by 2050. Canada’s emissions reduction ambitions under the NDC are supported by the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change and Canada’s strengthened climate plan: A Healthy Environment and a Healthy Economy (read our earlier bulletin on the plan here) as well as the various climate plans of provincial and territorial governments and the climate leadership, priorities, and goals of the Indigenous peoples of Canada.   Modelling for the NDC indicates that GHG emissions are anticipated to decline to 401 to 438 Mt CO2e by 2030. Further reductions are to be achieved with the adoption of innovative technologies such as zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs), industrial electrification, carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS), and hydrogen. The NDC makes clear that Canada is committed to a just transition to a net-zero economy (read our earlier bulletin on the Net-Zero Emissions Accountability Act here) through economic diversification and support for workers with skills training, education, accreditation, and ensuring equitable access to opportunities for underrepresented individuals and groups. For further information or to discuss the contents of this bulletin, please contact Lisa DeMarco at lisa@resilientllp.com.

Five of Canada’s largest oil sands producers operating 90% of oil sands production, including Suncor Energy, Canadian Natural Resources, Cenovus Energy, Imperial, and MEG Energy, today announced the Oil Sands Pathways to Net Zero initiative (the Initiative). The Initiative aims to work collectively with the federal and Albertan governments to reach net zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from Canadian oil sands operations by 2050 and help Canada to meet its Paris Agreement and 2050 net zero commitments.  This bulletin provides key highlights from the announcement. Carbon Capture, Utilization and Storage. The Initiative proposes collaborating with industry and government to create a Carbon Capture, Utilization and Storage (CCUS) CO2 trunkline system connecting oil sands facilities in the Fort McMurray and Cold Lake regions to a sequestration hub in Cold Lake with the potential for future links to the Edmonton region, modeled on similar systems in Norway and CCUS projects in the Netherlands, U.K., and U.S. Investment. The Initiative will require significant investment by industry and government in research and development for new and emerging technologies, such as direct air capture, aimed at reducing and removing GHG emissions as well as deploying GHG reduction technology, including hydrogen, process improvements, energy efficiency, fuel switching, and electrification. Indigenous Partnerships. The Initiative will seek to partner and work with the federal and Alberta governments, to ensure that local Indigenous communities benefit from both emissions reductions and Canadian resource development. For further information or to discuss the contents of this bulletin, please contact Lisa DeMarco at lisa@resilientllp.com.