Mike De Souza

CanWest News Service
Calgary Herald

Thursday, March 15, 2007
 
OTTAWA — Alberta and Ontario have found themselves singled out in a new evaluation of air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions across Canada.
According to the survey, Alberta produced more than a quarter of Canada’s total air pollutants and about 40 per cent of the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions in 2005, while Ontario represented 21 per cent and 28 per cent of total emissions, respectively, in the those categories for the same year.
The rankings were part of a PollutionWatch study, published Thursday by Environmental Defence and the Canadian Environmental Law Association, based on an evaluation of statistics collected by the federal government.
“I think it’s in line with current trends,” said Aaron Freeman, a policy director for Environmental Defence, noting there have been increases in recent years to pollutants that can be linked to poor air quality and health problems.
“It highlights the need for mandatory federal standards on air pollution. We currently only have voluntary standards.”
Freeman said Ontario could reduce harmful pollutants and move 50 to 80 per cent closer to its Kyoto protocol targets of cutting pollution linked to global warming, simply by shutting down its coal-fired power plants.
According to the survey, Ontario Power Generation is the third ranked Canadian company, in terms of producing air pollution, and the top ranked company responsible for producing greenhouse gases in Canada.
The top two companies in the survey’s pollution category are Inco, and Hudson Bay’s Mining and Smelting from Manitoba.
Freeman said a combination of oilsands production and coal-fired power plants were contributing to Alberta’s greenhouse gas emissions, based on the rankings which list TransAlta Utilities Corp., Saskatchewan Power Corp., and Alberta Power Ltd., as the next highest emitters of the pollution that causes global warming, behind Ontario Power Generation.
While Nova Scotia Power Incorporated is fifth on that list, Syncrude Canada Ltd., EPCOR Power Development Corporation, and Suncor Energy Inc – all from Alberta – held the next three spots.
In the provincial rankings, Quebec was the third highest source of air pollution, followed by British Columbia, Manitoba and Saskatchewan.
There was a similar pattern for greenhouse gas emissions, with Saskatchewan ranking third, followed by Quebec, New Brunswick and British Columbia.
The federal government has indicated it will introduce new short-term, mandatory targets to regulate industry in the coming weeks.
But the Conservatives have said they would favour intensity-based targets in the early stage of their plan which require companies to reduce the growth of their emissions, instead of making absolute reductions.
European countries recently agreed to a 20 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020, and Freeman said the latest Canadian statistics suggest the Conservative government should go much further.
“We need standards that are based on best practices, globally, and we need them to be mandatory, across Canada,” he said. “On greenhouse gases, it underscores the need, once again, for meaningful targets for large final emitters that are based on an absolute large cap, as opposed to an intensity-based loophole approach.”
mdesouza@cns.canwest.com
CanWest News Service