The Government of Canada has issued a notice in the Canada Gazette requiring certain facilities to submit information concerning greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and criteria air contaminant (CAC) emissions for 2006, by May 31, 2008. While many facilities already had reporting requirements under the National Pollutant Release Inventory (NPRI) and the GHG Emissions Reporting Program, the new notice requires much more information.

To illustrate, under the GHG Emissions Reporting Program for 2006, all facilities emitting 100,000 tonnes CO2 equivalent had to report the total quantity of emissions. Under the new notice, facilities must report not only the total quantity of emissions of GHGs (and the other listed CACs), but also information concerning economic output (e.g. for aluminum facilities, how much aluminum was produced). This will enable the government to draft its intensity-based targets for GHGs (i.e. tonnes of GHGs emitted per widget produced), using the 2006 data as a baseline. The new notice contains 15 sector-specific schedules, setting out the precise reporting requirements for each sector (e.g. cement, chemicals manufacturing, oil sands, potash).

Some facilities will be captured by both the old requirements and the new ones, and indeed the new notice provides that, where there is overlap, the facility may simply refer to previously submitted information. There may be some facilities that did not have to report under the NPRI or the GHG Emissions Reporting Program that will be captured by the new notice. To reiterate, even facilities that previously reported under the NPRI or GHG Emissions Reporting Program would need to submit further information under the new notice (e.g. in respect of economic output).

The fundamental difference between the old reporting requirement and the new one is evident when one considers the disparate statutory authority from which they are derived. The NPRI and the GHG Emissions Reporting Program are rooted in s. 46 of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999, which allows the government to gather information "for the purpose of conducting research, creating an inventory of data, formulating objectives and codes of practice, issuing guidelines or assessing or reporting on the state of the environment". By contrast, the new notice is rooted in s. 71, which allows the government to gather information "for the purpose of assessing whether a substance is toxic or is capable of becoming toxic, or for the purpose of assessing whether to control, or the manner in which to control, a substance". In other words, the old reporting requirements were meant to enable the government to create an inventory of emissions, but the new requirements are meant to enable the government to draft regulations, which are expected some time in 2008.