Parliament Has Power to Enforce Limits on Greenhouse Gas Emissions under Criminal Law: C.D. Howe Institute

    TORONTO, Aug. 21 /CNW/ - The Parliament of Canada has the authority to
regulate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions through its criminal-law power,
according to a paper released today by the C.D. Howe Institute. While the
federal government is proposing to limit GHG emissions by large industrial
emitters, the looming question is whether it has the legal authority to
implement the regulations. In "A Question of Parliamentary Power: Criminal Law
and the Control of Greenhouse Gas Emissions," Peter Hogg, Professor Emeritus,
Osgoode Hall Law School, and Scholar in Residence, Blake, Cassels & Graydon
LLP, argues that Parliament's criminal-law power provides the required legal
    Through its Regulatory Framework paper, the federal government proposes
to impose limits on greenhouse gas emissions by large industrial emitters.
Regulatory limits will vary from sector to sector. Each regulated firm may
choose among different options to comply. They may reduce emission levels to
prescribed levels; make contributions to a climate-change technology fund; or,
comply through a cap-and-trade system. Under the cap-and-trade system, a
regulated firm can comply by purchasing "emissions credits" from firms in the
same sector, or by buying "offset credits" from firms in unregulated sectors.
    Professor Hogg reviews a string of court decisions that have a bearing on
the issue of Parliament's legal authority to enforce the regulations. He
places emphasis on Parliament's criminal-law power, because that is the
constitutional basis for the current Canadian Environmental Protection Act,
1999 (CEPA). The government's Regulatory Framework proposals will likely take
the form of amendments to that Act, regulations made under that Act, or both.
    The author concludes that the proposals of the Government of Canada for
the regulation of greenhouse gas emissions in the Regulatory Framework paper
are likely to be upheld as constitutional exercises of the federal
criminal-law power.
    The report is available at:

For further information:

For further information: Peter W. Hogg, C.C., Q.C., Blake Cassels &
Graydon LLP, (416) 863-3194; Colin Busby, Policy Analyst, C.D. Howe Institute,
(416) 865-1904,

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