Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) has finalized the Strategic Assessment of Climate Change (SACC), which will guide assessment of climate change impacts of major projects subject to federal review under the Impact Assessment Act (the Act). The SACC, which was deemed a strategic assessment under section 95 of the Act on July 16, 2020, reflects the federal government's goal of net-zero emissions by 2050.
The SACC applies to "designated projects" under the Act. The principles and objectives underlying the SACC will moreover be built into guidance for the review of non-designated projects on federal lands and outside Canada under the Act and will provide guidance for projects regulated by the Canada Energy Regulator (CER). The SACC may also apply to environmental reviews by other federal lifecycle regulators, and be used in regional assessments.
The Strategic Assessment of Climate Change
The SACC aims to enable consideration of climate change in federal impact assessments through the following:
Quantification of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from a project. Proponents of projects undergoing a federal impact assessment will be required to provide an estimate of the project’s GHG emissions and, in certain cases, an upstream GHG emissions assessment.
Climate change in the planning phase. Projects subject to the Act will go through a planning phase which includes engagement with Indigenous peoples, local communities, other jurisdictions, the public, and federal authorities. Project proponents are required to prove GHG emissions estimates, impacts on carbon sinks, and alternative means of carrying out the project.
Climate change in the impact statement phase. Proponents will be required to provide details on a project’s resilience to and risks from the current and future impacts of a changing climate.
Net-zero by 2050. Proponents of projects with a lifetime beyond 2050 are required to provide a plan that describes how the project will achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.
Post-decision phase. Projects allowed to proceed under the Act will be required to comply with any conditions as determined by the Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, such as GHG mitigation measures and progress reporting on any plan to reach net-zero emissions by 2050.