Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Canada to Regulate New Diesel Generators, Cut Arctic Pollution in 2018

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Canada to Regulate New Diesel Generators, Cut Arctic Pollution in 2018

Article excerpt

Canada looking to cut northern diesel use

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OTTAWA - The federal government plans to introduce new regulations next year to try to match decade-old American standards for new diesel-powered generators.

Environment Minister Catherine McKenna was presented with a strategy in June to combat short-lived climate pollutants, including ozone, methane and black carbon, the latter of which is one of the most troublesome -- and sometimes deadly -- pollutants in the Canadian Arctic.

The strategy is part of Canada's push to reduce greenhouse gas emissions under the Paris climate change accord.

Black carbon is produced by the incomplete burning of fossil fuels and is the third-largest contributor to global warming after carbon dioxide and methane. It is a significant contributor to global warming, especially in the Arctic, where it not only traps heat when suspended in the air but also makes snow and ice absorb more heat, melting them more quickly and increasing surface temperatures.

In Canada, diesel-powered vehicles are the main source of black carbon, which is 3,200 times more potent as an environmental warming agent than carbon dioxide.

The briefing documents, obtained by The Canadian Press through the Access to Information Act, show diesel-powered electricity generators are not a huge component of Canada's overall black carbon emissions but they are a big deal in the North, "where engines operate 24 hours a day for off-grid electricity generation, often in close proximity to homes and schools, impacting local air quality."

Coupled with a greater use of wood-burning appliances and stoves, which are also a producer of black carbon, the diesel generators are a significant health and environmental concern in northern Canada.

Diesel is the main source of electricity for more than 200 remote communities in Canada, including every Inuit community in both Nunavut and the Northwest Territories. Five years ago the World Health Organization labelled it carcinogenic and found it also can cause respiratory and cardiovascular illnesses, affect the immune system and cause reproductive problems and developmental delays. …

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