This section presents two practical approaches for incorporating climate change considerations in EA:
Most projects may be more closely associated with one or the other climate change consideration. For example, the GHG consideration may be applicable to a proposed coal-fired power plant, while the impacts consideration may be more relevant to a proposed ski resort. However, the EA of some projects (for example, a pipeline with compressor stations) may incorporate both considerations.
The applicability of the guidance is dependent on the circumstances of a proposed project. Moreover, it should be noted that the type and scope of information to be considered in an EA varies by jurisdiction and remains at the discretion of the relevant authorities.
Figure 2.1 illustrates how both types of climate change considerations could fit within a typical EA process. (Annex A includes several worksheets that might be of assistance to EA practitioners in incorporating climate change considerations.)
|Environmental Assessment Process||GHG Considerations, where a project may contribute to GHGemissions||Impacts Considerations, where climate change may affect a project|
|1. Scoping||Preliminary scoping for GHGconsiderations||Preliminary scoping for impacts considerations|
|2. Data and Information Collection|
If needed, identify GHGconsiderations:
If needed, identify impacts considerations:
|3. Analysis of Environmental Effects|
Assess impacts considerations:
|4. Identification of Mitigation Measures 1|
If needed, prepare GHGmanagement plan:
If needed, prepare impacts management plan:
|5. Monitoring and Follow up||Monitoring, follow-up and adaptive management||Monitoring, follow-up and adaptive management|
The objective of this section is to help practitioners consider whether GHG emissions associated with a project are sufficient to be addressed in greater detail within the EA. This analysis can help decision makers identify, where applicable, the need for, and scope of practical measures to manage the project's GHG emissions, and where possible, link GHGprevention methods with air and water pollution reduction opportunities. This should reflect jurisdictional climate change policies and regulations, taking into account broader measures such as domestic and international emission credit trading and other initiatives. The analysis can also help decision makers consider other offsetting options or any large-scale effects that a project might have on carbon sinks. The consideration of GHG emissions in EA should be commensurate with the level of anticipated emissions from individual projects, and should reflect applicable policies and the specifics of each region and jurisdiction.
The recommended procedures for addressing GHG considerations are as follows:
Figure 2.2 illustrates the flow of procedures.
Step 1 - Preliminary Scoping for GHG Considerations
Step 2 - Identify GHG Considerations
Step 3 - Assess GHGConsiderations
Step 4 - GHGManagement Plans
If the project is likely to result in medium or high emissions, or depart from industry or jurisdictional profiles:
Step 5 - Monitoring, Follow-Up and Adaptive Management
As part of the preliminary scoping, the EA practitioner should seek to determine relatively quickly and as early as possible in the process, whether there are likely to be relevant GHG emissions considerations associated with the project that should be addressed in more detail. Additionally, a rationale should be provided as to why or why not GHG emissions were considered in more detail within the EA.
Scoping allows the practitioner to focus the EA analysis on those issues that are relevant to the project, potentially important and reasonably foreseeable. The preliminary scoping should seek to identify whether the project's GHGemissions are likely to be of relatively low, medium or high volumes or intensity during any phase of the project. Jurisdictional initiatives might assist this determination. If the project's emissions are likely to be of only low intensity or volume, there may be no need to conduct further analysis. Most projects would not require additional assessment of GHG considerations.
At this step, the practitioner should focus on general considerations, rather than on detailed quantitative analysis. In addition, the practitioner should apply readily accessible information sources (e.g., the project description submitted by the proponent or previous EAs of similar projects). Table A.1 in Annex A provides possible questions and illustrative examples that a practitioner might use in identifying important GHG considerations.
If the preliminary scoping suggests likely GHG considerations, such as medium or high emission intensity or volume, or departure from industry or jurisdictional profiles, it is followed by a more detailed consideration of jurisdictional GHG-related policies or regulations and the collection of industry and project-specific information. Information should be collected as to the emissions profile of the target industry, as well as the specifics of the proposed project. Table A.2 in Annex A outlines potential questions and illustrative examples of projects that could be associated with this exercise.
An industry profile suggests to what extent a proposed project is likely to contribute to GHGemissions. It is important to note that although an industry or project may be identified as a 'low' emitter, GHG considerations might still need to be addressed in the EAdepending upon evolving climate change policies and jurisdictional or regional profiles. Canada's Climate Change Voluntary Challenge and Registry (http://www.vcr-mvr.ca/FAQ.cfm) is a potential source of information on industrial and institutional GHG emissions, as is the Large Final Emitters Group, accessible at http://www.nrcan-rncan.gc.ca/lieg-ggei/. Further guidance will be included in this document as new information is developed.
Once an industry profile has been constructed, more detailed information is collected as to predicted project specifics. The proposed project can then be evaluated relative to industry standards, jurisdictional climate change policies and profiles. In particular, if the project plan demonstrates that the project does not fit the industry or jurisdictional profile, it should be examined in greater detail to determine if it should be dealt with as a "medium" or "high" intensity emitter.
If the identification of industry profile and project specifics suggests that the project is likely to have GHG emissions of medium or high intensity or volume, or if the project plan indicates that the project will exceed the industry profile for GHG emissions, or relevant jurisdictional policies or regulations, the practitioner should assess the emissions in more detail.
The practitioner should seek to describe the project's direct and indirect GHG emissions and related effects, including possible large-scale impacts on carbon 'sinks' (e.g. impact on forests, agricultural soils, landfills or wetlands) or large GHGemissions, which are the consequence of accidents or malfunctions. Annex A includes a worksheet (Table A.2) providing a checklist of potential questions that could assist practitioners at this step. How a project will or will not comply with jurisdictional climate change policies, plans or programs should be noted.
If the project is likely to result in GHG emissions that depart from jurisdictional criteria, are greater than the industry profile, are of relatively medium or high intensity or volume and/or have adverse effects on large-scale carbon sinks, the practitioner should clarify how emission considerations are addressed through jurisdictional policies or regulations and, if necessary, how the project has incorporated emission reduction or offset measures. 2 This consideration may be evidenced by the incorporation and/or consideration of mitigation measures, 3 such as international emission credit trading, industry best practices, GHG management plans, compensatory measures, etc.
The practitioner should first confirm that management plans are consistent with any GHGmanagement policies or regulations that jurisdiction(s) might have in place. Then, if necessary, project-specific efforts should be considered, such as monitoring emissions, with a view to modifying the project or introducing other new mitigation measures in response to new information. The GHG management plan could also link to other air and water pollution reduction opportunities, as these may reinforce each other, and should happen concurrently.
Information concerning GHGmanagement plans should be reported to public interest decision makers, such as regulatory authorities and relevant expert departments, providing a context for their decisions, consistent with the parameters set out earlier in this guidance document.
The need for monitoring and follow-up through the EA process will vary by jurisdiction, and may also depend on the nature of the broader GHG management system that each jurisdiction has in place. For example, federal monitoring and reporting standards are currently being developed consistent with Canada's Climate Change Action Plan. During this phase, the practitioner should verify the GHG emission forecasts used in the EA. This should be consistent with established jurisdictional procedures. The practitioner should also seek to determine the effectiveness of any emission reduction, offset or compensatory measures that have been implemented. Adaptive management may be an appropriate method of implementing any remedial actions identified during the follow-up program and/or incorporating "lessons learned" into normal procedures.
Moreover, climate change related knowledge, technology, policy and legislation are evolving. For projects with longer lifespans, it may be appropriate to consider these changes as part of the follow-up program.
The objective of this section is to help practitioners assess, reduce and manage the adverse impacts that climate change may have on projects and ensure that these impacts will not pose a risk to the public or the environment. The consideration of climate change impacts on a project is a component of the standard EA practice of considering possible changes to a project caused by the environment. The consideration of climate change impacts in EA should reflect regional variations in climate and environment, and jurisdictional practices.
Where the risks associated with the impacts of climate change on a project are of a private sector nature alone (for example, affecting the long-term profitability of the project), the proponent can choose to absorb this risk. However, if climate change risks extend beyond the project itself to potentially affect the public or the environment, this information must be factored into an informed decision by relevant authorities. Priority should also be given to projects that are both located in areas where there is a known sensitivity to climate change (i.e. projects located in Arctic regions or near large bodies of water), and are identified as sensitive to the effects of changing climatic parameters.
As with other considerations in EA, it should be noted that the onus remains on the practitioner to ensure sufficient and accurate information required to conclude whether or not there is a risk to the public or environment.
The recommended procedures for addressing impacts considerations are as follows:
Figure 2.3 illustrates the flow of procedures.
Step 1 - Preliminary Scope for Impacts Considerations
Step 2 - Identify Impacts Considerations
Step 3 - Assess Impacts Considerations
Step 4 - Impacts Management Plans
If the project is likely to pose risks to the public or environment resulting from the effects of climate change:
Step 5 - Monitoring, Follow-Up and Adaptive Management
The objective of the preliminary scoping is to assist the EA practitioner in determining relatively quickly and as early in the process as possible, whether there are likely to be important climate change impacts on the project, the potential level of risk posed to the public or the environment, as well as the level of confidence that the scientific community places in readily available climate change projections relevant to the project (see Annex B for Sources of Information). Additionally, a rationale should be provided as to why or why not climate change impacts were considered in more detail within the EA.
Preliminary scoping should focus on general considerations rather than detailed, quantitative analysis, and can be undertaken as part of the scoping activities conducted in most EA processes. An examination of the potential impacts of climate change on key climate parameters is part of the thorough assessment of the interactions between the environment and the project. Projects may be affected by a change, over time, in climate parameters, or in the frequency and/or severity of extreme events.
The preliminary scoping identifies the key components of the project and whether these are sensitive to changes in climate and weather parameters. The practitioner assesses whether any of these parameters are projected to change over the duration of the project, and may pose a risk to the project, and consequently to the public or environment. For most projects of short to medium duration, impacts considerations will not require further analysis.
The practitioner should focus upon readily accessible information sources regarding changes to regional climate patterns 4, reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), previous EAs of similar projects, regional EAs, local experience and traditional ecological knowledge (TEK). Confidence in the accuracy of climate models and climate change scenarios is higher at the continental level than at the local or regional levels. Due to the related uncertainty surrounding projections of future impacts, and the limitations inherent in existing data, judgment-based analytical tools (such as surveying regional/local experiences, expert opinion, TEK and employing a range of possible outcomes in the risk assessment) may be used when compiling climate change information.
For practitioners to describe and assess risks related to the project as well as possible under these circumstances, they will need to identify the level of confidence associated with the applicable climate change projections and the range of climate change impacts that may affect the project. As more scientific data is collected and climate change knowledge improves, it is hoped that the predictive power and confidence levels related to the climate change projections and risk assessments will be strengthened.
If medium or high levels of sensitivity or risks to the public or environment are identified, the practitioner should proceed with the analysis outlined below. Most projects would not require additional assessment of impacts considerations.
The identification of impacts considerations should:
Table A.3 in Annex A provides a matrix that may be useful in identifying climate parameters that are important to any phase of a project's life cycle, from construction to decommissioning, or any of its key components.
A project may be sensitive to the impacts of climate change if any of its components or any of its life cycle stages:
If the project is identified as sensitive to one or more climate parameters, the practitioner should conduct further analysis and consider the range of possible climate change scenarios and determine the confidence level associated with the data. Annex B contains links to various information sources that might be of use to practitioners.
An important aspect is the timing of the project. Climate change parameters will not change appreciably for projects of short duration. Therefore, projects that are likely to be completed and decommissioned within a few years time are unlikely to be sensitive to longer-term climate change effects, although they could be sensitive to variations in or changes to climate variables including the frequency and/or severity of extreme weather events.
The practitioner should identify the potential magnitude and likelihood of changes in the climate parameters over the life of the project (e.g., high, medium or low likelihood). Additionally, the level of confidence attached to existing climate change projections for the region where the project is located should be ascertained, when possible. The IPCC report (2001), Impacts and Adaptation and Vulnerability could be used as a starting point to identify the anticipated impacts of climate change on the project. Other Canada-specific sources of information include theCanada Country Study, which is a comprehensive, region-by-region examination of climate change and its potential impacts, and Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation: A Canadian Perspective. Both resources can be used to identify potential regional and sector-based climate change impacts that may affect a proposed project.
An assessment of the nature or characteristics of any climate change impacts may be undertaken as a component of the analysis of environmental effects in a typical EA. The results of Step 1 and 2 should be applied to assess the potential changes (or range of potential changes) in climate parameters for the project. The analysis should also consider the range of possible outcomes under which the climate parameter may adversely affect the project or one of its components. The practitioner should then determine if there are potential risks to the public or the environment if one or more project components is affected by identified changes to climate parameters (i.e. the consequences of a road collapsing due to melting permafrost). This identifies the perceived risks to the environment or the public. When assessing risks from climate change on a project, it should be cautioned that several climate change parameters might act together in a cumulative fashion.
In assessing impact considerations, project planners and practitioners may wish to consider the following, for the range of potential outcomes:
In identifying and assessing impact considerations, there are four possible cases to be considered. The four cases are based upon the level of confidence in projected changes to climate parameters and the risk to the public or the environment resulting from the potential effects of these changes on a project:
If a project is identified as either case one or case three, the practitioner may then proceed with steps 4 and 5 to ensure that consideration is given to how identified risks may be managed or avoided and proper monitoring, follow-up and adaptive management is conducted.
Figure 2.4 presents a matrix illustrating the possible cases that may be determined from a preliminary examination of, and confidence level in, the available climate change data and risks to the public or the environment resulting from the effects of climate change on a project.
High Confidence Level
Low Confidence Level
For any probable outcomes indicating sufficient risks to the project, the practitioner and proponent should consider how the risk may be managed or avoided. Where possible, the practitioner should advocate the most efficient and effective design or mitigation measures. This step may be undertaken at the same time as the consideration of mitigation measures and the determination of significance in a typical EA, factoring in the uncertainty associated with climate change considerations. Additionally, jurisdictions have various options at their disposal such as lease or tenure renewals to facilitate mitigation measures.
Impacts management plans could include:
A key element when considering how risks may be managed is the extent to which the project or its components are flexible or adaptable to future circumstances. Some projects, such as bridges, are highly inflexible; it will be difficult to modify them in response to future changes in, for example, sea level, rainfall or streamflow patterns. Other projects, such as aquaculture farms or tourism projects may be more flexible and more easily modified to mitigate future impacts of climate change on a project.
The analysis should identify any risks that may not be managed or avoided (e.g., because there may not be any apparent mitigation measure or because the proponent decides to assume the risk), and any implications of proceeding with the project in the absence of a risk management measure.
It is essential in reporting possible impact considerations that the public and private sector risks are differentiated and that the practitioner does not recommend that public sector decision makers take responsibility or assume any liability for risks rightfully borne by the private sector. It should be noted that in cases where there are only private sector risks associated with the climate change impacts on the project, the private sector may simply wish to assume the risks and not undertake mitigation or adaptation measures.
During the monitoring, follow-up and adaptive management phase, the responsible federal, provincial or territorial authority may monitor the status of the project and the effectiveness of the mitigation measures that have been implemented. An adaptive management process may be employed by the proponent to implement any remedial actions identified as necessary during the follow-up program, as well as incorporate any new lessons learned into normal procedures. The adaptive management plan would also be implemented during the follow-up phase. Adaptive management can serve as an important learning tool for climate change action, as uncertainty about vulnerabilities and risks can be reduced by experience only if that experience is identified and passed on (to others) to benefit other projects.
Moreover, project and climate change related knowledge, technology, policy and legislation are evolving. For projects of longer lifelines, it may be appropriate to consider these changes as part of the follow-up program.
1 Climate change related mitigation measures should be consistent with jurisdictional policies, plans and programs which may extend beyond the specific project subject to assessment, for example, the purchase of emission credits internationally. As such, the consideration of mitigation measures could accommodate policies that address emissions at a national or international level.
2 If a sinks-based mechanism is included in the EA as a mitigation measure, the practitioner should assess the potential impacts of future climate change on the sink component separately from an assessment of the impacts of climate change on the physical project.
3 Mitigation measures refer to measures to reduce the adverse environmental effects of a project (see Glossary), and include, but are not limited to the control or reduction of GHG emissions. Depending upon jurisdictional policies, mitigation measures may extend beyond the individual project being assessed, and Canada itself, as in international emission credit trading recognized under the Climate Change Plan for Canada. In this case, additional project-specific measures may not be necessary.
4 i.e. http://adaptation.nrcan.gc.ca/posters/home-accueil_en.asp; or http://adaptation.nrcan.gc.ca/perspective_e.asp?CaID=13&PgID=25which is written on a sectoral basis but includes more detailed regional considerations, and the Canadian Climate Impact Scenarios Project listed in Annex B.