Environment ministers take action on the circular plastics economy discuss climate change
August 31, 2022 in News
Whitehorse, YT – August 31, 2022 – Today, federal, provincial and territorial ministers of the Environment met in person for the first time in three years for the annual meeting of the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME).
Ministers released A Roadmap to Strengthen the Management of Single-use and Disposable Plastics (the roadmap) as part of CCME’s continued implementation of the Canada-wide Action Plan on Zero Plastic Waste. The roadmap includes best practices and voluntary actions that will guide governments to better manage plastic items that are most commonly found littering neighbourhoods, parks and natural landscapes. Ministers also encouraged key industry sectors to continue to commit to action on reducing plastic waste.
“By working with our federal, provincial and territorial partners, we are collaborating on solutions like the Canada-Wide Action Plan on Zero Plastic Waste that will help reduce single-use and disposable plastics in our environment.” said Nils Clarke, Yukon’s Minister of Environment, who hosted his colleagues in Whitehorse.
Ministers highlighted the innovative approaches their respective governments are adopting to encourage the circular plastics economy, particularly in sectors that generate significant amounts of waste. Such measures, which include encouraging durable and reusable solutions, extended producer responsibility, labelling for recyclability, and recycled content requirements, help keep products and materials in use as long as possible to maximize their value.
Ministers also emphasized the work governments are already doing to ensure the plastic goods Canadians and the world need are produced and managed in a responsible manner. Ministers talked about the importance of policies tailored to provincial and territorial circumstances that respect each government’s plastic waste management programs. Some Ministers expressed concerns over federal policies that label plastics as toxic and bans on plastics products.
They noted the importance of jurisdictions measuring progress for diversion, including repair, remanufacture, refurbishment and recycling to guide industry efforts towards zero plastic waste by 2030.
Ministers continued their ongoing conversations on climate change. They received a presentation on the challenges that warming temperatures and thawing permafrost create in the North, particularly on Indigenous communities. All provinces and territories face challenges adapting to our changing climate and are experiencing negative impacts from droughts, forest fires, flooding and other extreme weather events such as heat domes.
“Climate change is one of our biggest challenges and it is more important now than ever to take action to reduce our impact on the environment. I look forward to our continued work to better adapt to our changing climate. This year, the Yukon saw a record number of wildfires and snowpack depth in most of the Yukon. Climate change is happening now and we need to take bold and immediate action to prevent its impacts on our communities,” said Minister Clarke.
Ministers discussed the different approaches their governments are taking to respond to the impacts of a changing climate. The federal government provided an update on Canada’s National Adaptation Strategy currently being developed. The federal government committed to respecting provincial and territorial jurisdiction while working in close collaboration with provinces and territories and to support their specific adaptation priorities to advance climate change resilience across the country.
Ministers discussed the importance of ensuring continued business competitiveness and affordability for households while continuing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, keeping Canada an attractive global destination for jobs and growth.
Ministers discussed the upcoming 27th Conference of the Parties (COP27) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in November 2022, including supporting a Canadian approach informed by provincial and territorial climate and economic priorities, as well as opportunities to highlight Canadian leadership internationally and continue to promote global ambition to reduce greenhouse gases and limit global temperature rise.
Ministers also discussed innovative opportunities for lower-carbon solutions being implemented by governments that reflect regional economies and address their unique needs. In line with regional priorities, jurisdictions are considering a range of options such as critical minerals, hydrogen, hydro, wind, solar, carbon capture and storage, and small modular reactors to meet emission reduction goals.
Federal, provincial and territorial ministers discussed the impacts of air quality on human health and the environment and recognized the importance of maintaining our already high standards and leadership in air quality management.
In a prior and separate meeting on August 30, 2022, ministers met with leaders of Yukon First Nations and representatives of the Assembly of First Nations, the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples, Inuit Tapirit Kanatami, the Métis National Council and the Native Women’s Association of Canada to discuss climate action, including the role of youth in climate leadership. Ministers look forward to continuing to hear Indigenous perspectives at next year’s meeting.
At the end of the meeting, Ontario assumed the presidency of CCME and will host the 2023 CCME meeting. "Ontario continues to take meaningful action to address climate change. We are working collaboratively at all orders of government, with Indigenous partners, and with industry to build climate resiliency, create new jobs, and grow the economy. On behalf of the Province of Ontario, I am looking forward to hosting the 2023 Council of Ministers meeting,” said David Piccini, Ontario’s Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks.
CCME is the primary minister-led intergovernmental forum for collective action on environmental issues of national and international interest. CCME is comprised of the environment ministers from the federal, provincial, and territorial governments. It was founded in 1964. www.ccme.ca
 Due to the ongoing election in the province, Québec did not take a position on any of the issues discussed at the meeting.
Photo Credit: Government of Yukon, Photography Unit
CANADIAN COUNCIL OF MINISTERS OF THE ENVIRONMENT
Left to right: Honourable Bernard Davis (NL), Honourable Whitney Issik (AB), Honourable Shane Thompson (NT), Honourable Nils Clarke (YT), Honourable Gary Crossman (NB), Honourable Steven Guilbeault (CA), Honourable Jeff Wharton (MB), Honourable David Piccini (ON), Honourable George Heyman (BC), Honourable Dana Skoropad (SK), Honourable Timothy Halman (NS)
Not in Photo: Honourable David Akeeagok (NU), Honourable Steven Myers (PE), Monsieur Benoit Charette (QC)