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ERA's Environmental Compliance Management Blog

Understanding Canadian Greenhouse Gas Emission Reporting

Posted by Alex Chamberlain

Alex Chamberlain is a writer for ERA Environmental Management Solutions.

Canadian Greenhouse gas (GHG) reportCanadian greenhouse gas (GHG) reporting operates on a two-tier system, meaning Canadian businesses must file a federal GHG report and a provincial GHG emission report. In many provinces the relevant air regulations differ greatly between the federal and provincial levels, making it difficult for many businesses to keep up. Are you aware of the regulations in your province and how they affect you?

If you own or operate a facility in Canada, here are a few of the more important differences between the federal regulations and provincial GHG rules that you should be aware of:

British Columbia

British Columbia has some of the most stringent and complex GHG regulations in Canada, with a reporting program that functions almost entirely differently from the federal Greenhouse gas Reporting Program (GHGRP).

All facilities registered as Reporting Operations are required to report greenhouse gas regardless of their overall GHG emissions. A facility can be declassified as a Reporting Operation only once it ceases certain manufacturing activities and emits less than 10,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) for three consecutive years.

Any Reporting Operation that emits equal to or more than 25 000 tonnes Co2e must also get their emission verified by a third party verification body and file a follow-up supplementary report.

The deadlines are different for the B.C. GHGRP as well, requiring reporting operations to submit the first greenhouse gas emission report by March 31 and the supplementary report by September 1.

There are too many other differences to fully summarize in one short article, stay posted for our full guide to the GHG reporting requirements in B.C.

Alberta

Alberta’s GHGRP, known as the Specified Gas Report, is nearly identical to the federal GHG emission reporting program. There is, however, a key difference in the way carbon dioxide emissions from biomass materials are treated, in addition to the inclusion of carbon offset credits in the provincial greenhouse gas reporting regulations.

Unlike the federal regulations, Alberta requires that reporters include carbon dioxide emissions from the combustion of biomass materials in their threshold calculations when determining if they are required to report. 

Albertan regulation defines biomass materials as organic matter, other than separated organics, that is available on a renewable basis and that is derived from plant, animal, or micro-organism. 

Alberta also includes carbon offset credits from eligible projects in final reported greenhouse gases (GHG) reports. These credits are not applied against emission thresholds, and so cannot be used to avoid GHG reporting, but can reduce a facility’s final emission total. The Albertan government has specific regulations regarding these emission offsets, ensuring that the projects take place within the province, have a verifiable positive environmental impact, and result from actions that go above and beyond “business as usual” practices.

Ontario

 Canadian greenhouse gas emission reportingOntario’s greenhouse gas reporting program (GHGRP) is different in many ways:

- The reporting threshold is 25,000 tonnes CO2e instead of the federal threshold of 50,000 tonnes
- Ontario regulates a greater number of greenhouse gases
- Ontario regulations specify the methodologies you must use to calculate emissions
- Ontario requires that all GHG reports get verified by an accredited third party

These differences can have a huge impact when it comes to determining if you are required to submit a report or not. Facilities that are nowhere near needing to complete a federal GHGRP report may have to complete an Ontario report based on the lower threshold or through the inclusion of new GHGs. It cannot be taken for granted that your federal reporting obligations are an accurate reflection of your provincial responsibilities.

Since there are too many Greenhouse gas emission reporting regulations to count, be sure to check with your provincial Ministry of Environment when reporting season comes around. Remember, there are many good reasons to report your GHG emissions properly beside your legal obligations.

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ERA Environmental Alex

About the Author: Alex Chamberlain is a writer and blogger who regularly contributes to ERA Environmental Management Solutions' blog. You can find Alex on Google+LinkedIn & ERA's Environmental Compliance Blog