Canadian Institute for Business and the Environment
Fisherville, Ontario, Canada
Tel. 416 410-0432, Fax: 416 362-5231
Vol. 17, No. 5, November 5, 2012

Our theme this issue comes from the recent Resource & Waste Management Exhibition and Conference held in the UK. This very large event provides good insight into what is happening in recycling and waste management in western Europe. As usual, initiatives are somewhat ahead of those which we see in Canada. Would you believe: in Europe, the future is (or at least may be) resource efficiency?

If not the United Nations for addressing with global environmental challenges, then what? Our editorial in this issue poses the question.

Following our theme articles, we also look in this issue looks at some recent European publications in the emerging field of nanomaterials. This field presents some challenges to commentators. One does not want to be inappropriately alarmist, yet there are some warning signs concerning some nanomaterials. Canada seems to consider nanomaterials as not significantly different from the base material, but the European Commission has quite a different view. Europe is considering assessment of each commercial nanomaterial as something having different environmental properties from those of its non-nano counterpart. The evidence suggests that this is probably a good idea. Once again we have released a bunch of new substances into the environment without any significant assessment and governments are now trying to catch up with assessment of chemicals that are being used in commerce but which have not been subject to a full environmental toxicity assessment. Will we ever learn?

A network of activists and civil society representatives attending the eleventh meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity have awarded Canada a Dodo award for permitting the ocean dumping of iron sulphate into the Pacific. We bring you the details. Canada has in fact been quite active in support of a moratorium on ocean dumping but it is not so clear where we are headed in the future. We bring you some of the gobbledygook.

We also take a brief look at the environmental aspects of second federal omnibus bill, courtesy of Elizabeth May and some of our legal friends. In future we will be closely watching the implications of federal government actions to reduce environmental regulation, but we don't expect them to be positive - for industry. Watch for more protests, demonstrations, and ngo scrutiny of projects having significant (or even, less significant) environmental impacts. The Federal government has handed Greenpeace and other environmental activist groups an opportunity on a golden platter! Dumb, dumb, dumb.

Our next issue will focus on some of the papers presented at the Society for Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC) conference being held later this month in California and we will touch on some of the environmental issues of the US election. It should be interesting! In a subsequent issue we will return to the waste management field with a review of recent activity in the field of construction and demolition waste. As always, both issues will include articles of a more general environmental interest and, we hope, a selection of your letters. Send them to


In September 2012, Canada's Prime Minister, skipping the annual meeting of the UN General Assembly even though he was in New York at the time, shot overgeneralized harangues at the United Nations. Harper, who has held a fair number of closed door meetings with dictators, said that he wants Canada to avoid "trying to court every dictator with a vote at the United Nations, or just going along with every international consensus, no matter how self evidently wrong-headed."

Although many resolutions at the UN and its agencies are passed by consensus, the UN Charter provides for a recorded vote if there is a request for a vote such as in the General Assembly where each country has one vote. Obviously if Canada wanted to vote against a resolution, our representatives can request such a vote and then the result might still be a defeat of Canada's position but it wouldn't be a consensus. Voting is different depending on what part of the UN is involved e.g. the IMF is readjusting its governance to reflect the growing role of emerging economics and the Security Council permanent members have veto power if they don't concur with the temporary members. Some link Harper's hostility towards the UN to his embarrassment in failing to gain one of those temporary seats in 2010.

Sometimes the wording of the UN conventions, treaties or international agreements have been arrived at by consensus but usually this is due to work, sometimes years of work,  by working groups and technical and scientific expert reporting and negotiations to draft text that is agreeable when it is being considered by nations meeting on that topic. Many serious problems facing the world don't have "self-evident" solutions and many countries might be able to contribute expertise but otherwise have insufficient resources. On many issues, such as climate change, ozone depletion, transboundary pollution, and biodiversity, action on a broader scale than individual countries is needed. Many of these agreements have significant impacts on various industry sectors and businesses, which may request observer status (e.g. the Fur Institute of Canada is an observer at the biodiversity talks) and otherwise participate.

When a country signs an international agreement, they have a minimum commitment to refrain in good faith from acting to defeat the purpose of the treaty. Whether or not and when a treaty comes into effect is not a matter of consensus, either but part of the agreement. Usually a certain number of the Parties who signed have to ratify (or similar terms) by a certain date for the treaty to come into force. Then the country is expected to translate the requirements of the agreement into its domestic law. Only the countries that ratify are required to comply with the treaty as international law. However, the domestic laws may affect countries not party to the treaty. e.g. limits on or prior agreement of certain substances or GMOs. Additional agreements may result in separate Protocols, each separately ratified resulting in different numbers of countries for the Convention and Protocols. The states which have ratified it are the Parties so that group is often called the Conference of the Parties COP which becomes the governing body of the Convention.

The UN is a complex institution with many agencies and programmes like the UN Security Council, the Economic and Social Council ECOSOC, the International Monetary Fund, The World Bank, the Food and Agriculture Organization, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, UN Environment Programme. Countries may feel pressured by international agreements but that has been one of the strengths of the UN in getting (perhaps not enough but certainly some) global action including on the environment. The UN is a changing institution; the UN Charter doesn't have specific environment statements but specifies international cooperation on international problems. The first environmental resolutions at the UN were passed by ECOSOC in July 1968 and by the General Assembly in December 1968.

Former Prime Minister Lester Pearson who was active in the formative years of the United Nations in 1945 through the 1950s and won the 1957 Nobel Peace Prize for activating the first UN peacekeeping force during the 1956 Suez Crisis saw the international agreement approach through the United Nations as averting the possibility of total global destruction said, "Threats to global survival, though they are sometimes exaggerated in apocalyptic language which makes our flesh creep, are real. The prophets of doom and gloom may be proven wrong but it is a chilling fact that man can now destroy his world by nuclear explosion or ecological erosion.”
Colin Isaacs

Dag Hammarskjöld Library. United Nations - Research Guide Voting : General Assembly.
and for a list of the UN environmental treaties and related bodies see Environment
Foreign Affairs and International Trade. Lester B. Pearson: 1957 Nobel Peace Prize Recipient..


This year the Resource and Waste Management Conference, held in September in Birmingham, UK, was co-located with The Energy Event and The Renewables Event. The RWM was the largest in terms of exhibitors but all three provided insight into how the UK and Europe is different from North America in quite a few ways including legislation, business strategies and practices, and challenges identified.

Seminars were distributed around the exhibit hall in "theatres" set up by themes such as
Like many such workshops, the business speakers were there to promote products, services or corporate responsibility branding but aside from a few overtly self-serving presentations, many of the sessions we attended had a reasonable dose of reality.

Recycling and Waste Management Conference RWM in partnership with Chartered Institution of Waste Management CIWM. Resource efficiency & Waste Management Solutions. Birmingham, UK: September 11-13, 2012.
and program at [Click on the button “Download Now” Free registration is required for the first session downloaded only and then entering the email used for the registration for each presentation. Search for presenter or title of session to obtain presentation. Although most presentations are available some are not.]


Guenther envirotech based in Germany demonstrated how to separate for recycling difficult materials such as those often found in construction and demolition waste. C & D waste is often a conglomerate of many materials which will have value beyond fill only if they are separated. However, separation plays havoc on machinery inflicts high costs due to wear and tear. Some C & D wastes are particularly complex e.g. concrete usually has to be crushed to extract the rebar. Debris may result not only from deliberate construction, removal or renovation of buildings, industrial facilities and infrastructure but also from natural disasters such as floods, wild fires and tornados/hurricanes.

The Guenther Splitter module is said to be basically simple. It is said to use the least amount of space, be extremely powerful, blockage free and wear resistant, low energy, and low noise. The unit is said to separate by weight, physical properties and size. Examples of materials in the mix include old wood, mixed building waste, soil, stones and other bulky waste. A shredder upstream can be installed so that very large pieces can be refed into the process. The company leaflet explains that the screen sizes can be adjusted through a minor technical adjustment to increase efficiency for different types of materials. Both stationary and mobile models are available. Mobile screening equipment allows separation at the site so that material which can be used at the site doesn't have to hauled away.

C & D Reprocessing Technologies in Canada

More companies are getting involved in the opportunities of improved technologies for recycling C&D waste in Canada. Waste Management Inc. announced in January 2012 that they were building a C&D facility in Toronto, Ontario.

Alberta Environment says C&D waste accounts for about one quarter of waste in municipal landfills in Alberta. Edmonton opened a C&D waste recycling facility at the Edmonton Waste Management Centre in January 2012. The $4.3 million facility was built and supplied with technology such as density separator, magnets, fingerscreen, specialized conveyors for collection and stacking by New Brunswick based company Sparta Innovations. It has a processing capability of up to 100,000 tonnes per year or 40 tonnes per hour.

Guenther envirotech GmbH. Recycling technology for humans and the environment: Splitter. Wartenberg, Germany: 2012. [select language at the top to choose English]

City of Edmonton. Construction and Demolition Waste Recycling Facility at the Edmonton Waste Management Centre New. Edmonton, Alberta.

Sparta Innovation. Notre-Dame, New Brunswick.


Zero Waste was the theme of a number of RWM presentations including the implementation by the retailer Marks & Spencers of its Plan A ("because there is no Plan B") even though the speakers often acknowledged that as of yet practically speaking there was no such thing as zero waste, a position taken by The John Lewis Partnership which also has high targets for waste reduction at its department stores and at its food retailer Waitrose. One of the waste reduction practices highlighted is separating waste at the stores e.g. food waste, and backhauling to the distribution centres for large volume recycling. This uses trucks which brought goods to the stores and return empty: one estimate was the 51% of the trucks on UK highways are empty. All the speakers highlighted various approaches to change employee and manager behaviour: people at all levels need to understand what the company is trying to do, that the company is really committed and why it is important.

Zero Waste at Events: Coca Cola and the 2012 London Olympics

The London Organising Committee of the Olympics had several guidance documents such as on use of temporary materials, packaging and sustainable sourcing so suppliers would select with the following objects:
Phil Cumming, LOCOG Corporate Sustainability manager, said they learned a lot from Canada's 2010 Vancouver Games about developing codes and protocols but suppliers such as caterers to the Canadian Games were given a relatively freer rein on how to implement the guidelines. He suggested that LOCOG maintained more enforcement of the codes which in some cases required using already contracted and reviewed items such as compostable cutlery for all suppliers to the site. He expected that when the final report for the 2012 Olympics is released, the result will be closer to the target of zero waste than Vancouver. One of the innovations at the site were colour coded bins: orange for compostables, green for recyclables and to show a visual picture of the goal, a half size black garbage bin. All packaging and similar items on the site were also colour coded with the same logos so everyone knew which item went into each bin. This also helped “at the back of the house” if items were put in the wrong bin.

In its corporate policy statements for the 2012 London Olympic Games, The Coca Cola Company, a lead Games sponsor, identified itself both supported by and supporting LOCOG objectives. The Games were seen as a sign of a changing event industry with more action on reducing the carbon foot print and waste. The company committed to implementing BS 8901, the new British Standard for sustainable event management. One of the legacies supported by TCCC was to learn from the world's first sustainable games by developing the London 2012 Zero Waste Protocol to help other event managers plan and implement zero waste events.

Katherine Symonds, Head of Sustainable Games at Coca Cola said the 2012 London Games aim for zero waste helped the company improve its own as well as its suppliers sustainability practices while helping consumers to understand the importance of recycling A Coca Cola van designed with slots for bottle return followed the torch relay encouraging visitors and residents to recycle drink containers. TCCC sponsored recycling bins for drink containers such as at tube (subway) stations. To facilitate recycling, the number of types of drink containers was reduced - the Olympics site allowed only 100% compostable or recyclable PET, no aluminum or glass. All Coca Cola, Diet Coke and Coke Zero drinks were served in PlantBottle (TM) packaging, made from 22.5% plant based material but recyclable. At the Games venue, TCCC committed to recycling all soft drink bottles and to convert every bottle collected into another bottle within 6 weeks.

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Envac describes itself as having invented the vacuum waste collection system in 1961. Vacuum waste collection involves transportation of wastes on a virtually continuous basis through underground pipes to a central collection point. The first pilot project for them in Canada is a stationary vacuum system in a major development project called Quartier des spectacles in central Montreal. It began in 2008 and is scheduled to be completed in 2014. About 1.5 kilometres of underground pipe have already been installed around Sainte Catherine St and the system is expected to be able to handle about five tones of waste per day from restaurants, shops and offices. Other phases will include a waste collection terminal, 33 outdoor public inlets and some inlets in office buildings. Separated waste in three categories is collected, organic food waste, mixed recyclables with paper and mixed waste. The urban area is the site for various festivals such as the Montreal International Jazz Festival so the garbage collection will be able to cope with peak loads which in the past were a problem when large number of people attended causing garbage overflow during seasonal outdoor events.

The company which supplies vacuum waste systems on different scales including to commercial kitchens and for different applications such as residential areas, hospitals and airports says that the advantages of an underground vacuum system for the city centre include:
GallonLetter's associate couldn't resist asking what would happen if a person got sucked in but Michael Merriman, Managing Director of Envac UK said that there are too many safeguards for that to happen but should there be other kinds of problems the systems are all monitored first at the local level and then by the company. Indeed he showed his own digital hand-held computer; which he said would alert him on a roster for any serious glitches in their systems anywhere globally.

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The RWM conference set up what it called the Energy from Waste Trail featuring more than three dozen exhibitors associated with both biological technologies such as anaerobic digestion and thermal technologies such as gasification, pyrolysis and combined heat and power.

Sainsbury's AD Option

David Timson, Head of Waste at Sainsbury's Supermarkets, and Dan Poulson, Director, Tamar Energy talked of the role of anaerobic digestion (energy from waste) in helping the company meet waste to landfill goals. Sainsbury was a founding investor for Tamar Energy contributing GBP2 million of the total GPB65 million. While a few years ago, packaging waste was very much in the public and regulator eye, now, in the UK, food waste has become a big issue.

The UK supermarket Sainsbury has over 1000 stores, 22 regional distribution centres and 150,000 employees.

Timson said the strategy for minimizing waste included:
Tamar Energy

Tamar Energy, a startup company with investments from Sainsbury's, the Prince of Wales and others, is entirely focussed on anaerobic digestion. Unlike composting which relies on oxygen (which is why compost piles should be turned every so often) AD is a method for converting organic material without oxygen using bacteria in closed containers. The process produces biogas rich in methane which can be used to produce electricity or used directly as gas. The residue is pasteurized and used as fertilizer if permitted. The aim is to build 44 plants for generating 100 MW of electricity over the next five years.

Tamar has committed to reporting regularly on its commitment "to make a positive contribution towards a sustainable planet", to treat health and safety as the highest priority and "to operate market leading standards in governance and ethical behaviour."

GallonLetter notes that anaerobic digestion is accepted in jurisdictions such as the US where state mandates requiring utilities to have a certain portion of their production in renewable energy allow AD to count towards that renewable goal. Environmental assessment and life cycle assessment are needed as well as suitable site location and enforcement of conditions/best practices of operations to ensure that such "green energy" stays as green as possible. As a factsheet from the University of Adelaide (Australia) says "Like water, electricity, automobiles and most of life biogas is not completely safe, but by being aware of the dangers involved you are well on the way to a safe and happy digestion experience." Examples of issues for anaerobic digesters include:
Some critics of energy to waste are opposed because it requires large volumes of material making it too easy to degrade materials instead of reusing and recycling to avoid new resource use.

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Steve, CEO, Chartered Institution of Wastes Management, one of the partners presenting RWM, discussed the case of the potential impact of resource scarcity and increased commodity prices as a driver for better waste management.

Demand for food, water, metals such as lead and zinc and energy are expected to increase in the next few decades to increasingly unsustainable levels. A chart for total global resource extraction of fossil fuels, metals, minerals and biomass from 1980 to 2030 shows an increase from 40 billion tonnes in 1980 to 100 billion tonnes by 2030.

Shift to green economy is one of the biggest business opportunities. The global low carbon market is expected to be GBP3 to 4 trillion by 2015. British companies using efficiently water, materials and energy have the potential to save GBP23 billion annually.

Lee concluded, "Those who do not innovate and fund the efficiencies will not be able to compete."

One of the slides mentioned what European Commissioner for the Environment, Janez Potočnik was saying about resource efficiency.

Potočnik: EU Roadmap for Resource Efficiency

Last fall, at the Second World Resources Forum held in Davos, Switzerland, EU Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik spoke on the European Union's policy measures regarding sustainable economy and efficient use of natural resources. Potočnik has been advocating a circular economy where material is reused and recycled so there is little waste. He jokes that he is so committed to the circular concept even in policy matters that he recycles his speeches too.

He suggests that although the new Roadmap for Resources Efficiency forwarded to European Parliament and Council in September 2011 won't provide all the answers, participation by industry in getting out of the linear economy will help reduce the need for environmental regulations.

He suggests that the linear model of resource consumption has been based on take-make-use-throw away. Europeans use 16 tonnes of materials per capita annually of which 6 tonnes become waste and half of that waste is landfilled. Instead of burying or burning the materials, the roadmap suggests milestones e.g. by 2020 energy recovery is limited to non recyclable materials, landfilling is virtually eliminated and high quality recycling is ensured.

The EU is heavily dependent on imported materials, importing billions of tonnes more than are exported. Potočnik says that continuing along the linear approach leads to scarcity, price volatility, supply disruptions and prices that are too high for the European industrial base to be able to compete.

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The European Commission is playing close attention to nanomaterials, substances which are manufactured with a very tiny particle size, in the range 1 nm - 100 nm. [1 nm = 1×10-9 metres or 1×10-3 μm]. Fullerenes (carbon Buckyballs), graphene flakes and single wall carbon nanotubes with one or more external dimensions below 1 nm are also considered as nanomaterials. The EC interest suggests that manufacturers of nanomaterials, and products containing them, as well as groups and people concerned about the toxic properties of substances in the environment, might wish to pay attention to this emerging category of materials.

Environmental challenges can arise because some nanomaterials may have properties that go beyond the properties of their base material. For example, the small particle size means that they may be able to cross skin barriers or enter into living cells. In the environment they may have an ability to interact with living organisms that differs from the interactions of the non nano material. The EC clearly identifies that while not all nanomaterials induce toxic effects it is still important to assess nanomaterials as potentially having toxicological properties different from those of their base material. An EC regulatory review presents references supporting findings that the most important effects of nanomaterials have been found in the lungs where there is evidence of inflammation, tissue damage, oxidative stress, chronic toxicity, cytotoxicity, fibrosis, and tumours induced by nanostructured carbon black, aluminum oxide, aluminum silicate, titanium dioxide (hydrophilic and hydrophobic) and amorphous silicon dioxide. Some nanomaterials, including carbon black and titanium dioxide, have been classified as possibly carcinogenic to humans. Carbon nanotubes with dimensions and properties similar to the toxic forms of asbestos have potential under experimental conditions to induce effects similar to those of asbestos. Silver and copper nanoparticles are especially toxic in the environment.

Most nanomaterials being produced in commercial quantities today are inorganic substances. The EC reports about 800 manufacturer-identified nanotechnology-based consumer products currently on the market. The major categories include inorganic non-metallic nanomaterials (e.g. synthetic amorphous silica, aluminum oxide, titanium dioxide), carbon based nanomaterials (e.g. carbon black, carbon nanotubes), metal nanoparticles (e.g. nanosilver) and organic, macromolecular or polymeric particulate materials. A specific nanomaterial may exist in a variety of forms. New types of nanomaterial are being developed: these include targeted drug delivery systems, novel robotic devices, three dimensional networks, molecule-by-molecule designer nanomaterials. The EC reports that the global quantity of nanomaterials brought to market each year is around 11.5 million tonnes with a market value of roughly 25 billion dollars. The major nanomaterials are carbon black (9.6 million tonnes), amorphous silica (1.5 million t), aluminum oxide (200,000 t), barium titanate (15,000 t), titanium dioxide (10,000 t), cerium oxide (10,000 t), and zinc oxide (8,000 t). The major uses of nanomaterials are in rubber tires and other rubber goods, polymers, electronics, cosmetics, and biomedical applications. In addition, a wide range of nanomaterials are used in paints and coatings, catalysts, solar cells, and fuel cells. Products based on nanomaterials are expected to grow from a market of $256 billion in 2009 to $2.5 trillion by 2015. Many of the uses are almost certainly positive.

The EU is planning to construct a permanent database of nanomaterials in commercial use, the product categories in which they are used, and the known or suspected human and environmental toxicities associated with them. This European work should be useful for Canadians as well as Europeans. It is not clear how closely the Canadian government is watching developments in the nanomaterial field. Progress on building a regulatory framework for nanomaterials seems to have stalled and the Canadian government inclination seems to be to treat nanomaterials as if they had the same properties as the non-nano material. The European work suggests that this may not be a wise direction. GallonLetter will keep readers informed.
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CBD Alliance, a network of activists and civil society representatives advocating for improved participation in UN Convention on Biological Diversity gives the Dodo Awards "to those governments who have failed to evolve, and whose actions at the CBD are contributing to, rather than preventing, biodiversity loss. And the Dodo Bird has spoken – the awards go to Canada and the UK." The negative awards were announced during the COP11 the Eleventh meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP 11) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) held 8-19 October 2012 in Hyderabad, India.

Among a number of reasons, one of Canada's dishonourable mention was explained in the press release as
"Canada is the clear leader, for breaching the moratorium on ocean fertilization and geo-engineering adopted by the CBD in 2008 and 2010, said Silvia Ribeiro of ETC Group. Right in the middle of CBD negotiations, we discovered that Canada had "ignored" a huge ocean fertilization event that were recently carried out off their Pacific coast, in violation of two international conventions”.

Background Note by CBD Alliance: Ocean Fertilization

The dumping of 100 tons of iron sulfate is said to have been carried out by a Canadian company using a Canadian ship, registered in Canada with Canadian personnel off Canada's coast against the moratorium on ocean fertilization under the CBD and the IMO's London Convention on Dumping of Wastes at Sea. The group notes that the Government of Canada failed to issue a statement and that it is unclear to whether the government knew about the project and failed to act. When the same Russ George through the company Planktos tried to dump iron sulfate near the Galapagos and the Canary Islands, those governments took action to stop the dumping (see GallonLetter Effectiveness and Environmental Side Effects of Offsets: Iron Dump Vol. 12, No. 9, September 17, 2007) The international outrage resulted in nations signing on to the London Convention agreeing in 2008 to categorize “ocean fertilization” as ocean dumping which is not allowed. (see separate article on Marine Dumping is this GallonLetter)

GallonLetter notes that the dump off the west coast of Canada was in July. The first reports came not from Environment Canada but in the British newspaper The Guardian in October.

The Dodo

Dodos lived in Mauritius, an island just east of Madagascar in the Indian Ocean. About a metre tall, they evolved to be flightless, probably over thousands, perhaps millions of years because there were few if any predators.

Portuguese sailors on their way to the spice islands saw the dodo bird in 1598 and in less than 100 years the dodo bird was extinct, with only a few remnants for natural history museums in the way of bones or feathers. Reasons for extinction include: hunting by sailors and settlers, loss of habitat due to clearing of forests, introduction of pigs, cats, rats and monkeys, some of which became predators of the birds and their eggs. Like so many species extinction, there may not have been one cause but a combination

GallonLetter is going to wait for more information about the Canadian federal government's role (or perhaps lack of oversight on what is being dumped at sea) and understands that the word dodo has a suitable negative meaning but.... why would an ngo dedicated to conservation name a negative award after a bird which is totally blameless (even if described by someone as a ground pigeon) and which is a exemplar of how humans cause species extinction not only through direct harm but indirectly such as habitat loss. The dodo birds did evolve to suit their environment but humans changed it too fast. The CBD Alliance might just as well have misnamed the award Lonesome George, one of the Giant Galapagos turtles. He was the only member of one of the subspecies of these turtles making the number of subspecies remaining now 10 as he died this year.

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Canada has been quite active on ocean fertilization at both treaties (IMO's and CBD) with ocean fertilization moratoriums. For the Convention of Biological Diversity, the Working Group 1 under the chairmanship of Dr. Ole Hendrickson, Science Advisor, Biodiversity Convention Office, Environment Canada met May 1 2012 considering documents on technical and regulatory matters on climate related geoengineering in relation to the CBD. Two studies were prepared with peer review and an online consultation with indigenous peoples and local communities.

The study states that
"The CBD decision on geoengineering invites Parties and others to ensure (with some exceptions and until certain conditions are met) that no geoengineering activities take place (Decision X/33 paragraph 8(w)). The decision refers specifically to "the precautionary approach and Article 14 of the Convention. While not expressed in legally binding language, the decision is important for a global governance framework because of the wide consensus it represents. The Parties to the Convention have also recognized that while science-based global transparent and effective control and regulatory mechanism for geoengineering may be needed, they may not be best placed under the CBD. The CBD has referred to and incorporated the work of the London Convention and London Protocol (LC/LP) on ocean fertilization in its own decisions, thus widening the application of this work beyond the smaller number of Parties to the LC/LP. (Section 3.1)

The US objected to including the precautionary principle which it said was not part of international law and "we do not consider it an appropriate or particularly helpful tool in the context of geoengineering".

The Convention on Biological Diversity was signed by 150 governments (more countries have ratified since) at the 1992 Rio Earth Summit to translate the principles of Agenda 21. The Convention recognizes that " biological diversity is about more than plants, animals and micro organisms and their ecosystems – it is about people and our need for food security, medicines, fresh air and water, shelter, and a clean and healthy environment in which to live.

IISD. CBD COP 11, 8-19 October, 2012, Hyderabad, India. Daily Web Coverage.

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The press release October 25, 2012 for the 40th anniversary of first global convention designed to protect the marine environment from human activities announced, "The use of the world’s oceans as a dumping ground for harmful wastes has been systematically regulated and reduced under the terms of an international convention that, this year, celebrates 40 years since it was first adopted." The Parties to the London Convention LC, fully called The "Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and Other Matter, 1972", and its 1996 Protocol LP have a meeting 29th October to 2 November 2012 at the International Maritime Organization IMO's HQ in London. Among other topics, the meeting will discuss more regulatory controls on ocean fertilization and other similar activities and the guidelines for CO2 sequestration.

Under the Protocol, all dumping is prohibited except for a reverse list which means only the wastes specifically listed are allowed. Examples are dredged materials, sewage sludge, fish wastes, inert, inorganic geological material e.g. mining waste, organic material of natural origins and carbon dioxide streams from carbon dioxide capture processes for sequestration. The LP has specific guidance on carbon sequestration.

The press release says, "Since 2007, the Contracting Parties have taken steps to develop a global, transparent and effective control and regulatory mechanism for ocean fertilization and other activities that fall within the scope of the LC and LP and that may cause harm to the environment, including marine geo-engineering activities. In 2010, an assessment framework for scientific research involving ocean fertilization was adopted."

Ocean Fertilization Prohibited Except for Scientific Research

The Parties adopted LC-LP.1(2008) on the regulation of ocean fertilization, disallowing all ocean fertilization activities other than legitimate scientific research. They aimed to complete work that would "establish a global, transparent and effective control and regulatory mechanism for ocean fertilization activities and other activities that fall within the scope of the London Convention and London Protocol and have the potential to cause harm to the marine environment" by 2012. In 2010, they adopted LC-LP.2(2010) "Assessment Framework for Scientific Research Involving Ocean Fertilization" which provides details on completing environmental assessment, including risk management and monitoring; if the Canadian project is supposed to be scientific research as is claimed by those involved, the IMO agreement is that Canada should have required the project to go through this assessment.

Environment Canada: Ocean Dumping

Environment Canada's web site says, "Consistent with the London Convention, the CEPA (Canadian Environmental Protection Act) controls disposal of substances into waters or onto ice from activities taking place at sea by way of a legislated general prohibition. This means that disposal of any substance into the sea or even into the sub-seabed from a ship, aircraft platform or other structure is not allowed unless it is done in accordance with a permit issued by Environment Canada (EC). Incineration at sea has also been prohibited and it is also illegal import or export a substance for disposal at sea.

Only a small list of wastes or other matter can be considered for permits and these are individually assessed to ensure that disposal at sea is the environmentally preferable and practical alternative, that pollution is prevented and that any conflicts with other legitimate uses of the sea are avoided. Permit conditions ensure the quantities; disposal sites and special precautions are well considered."

The Law of the Sea

One of the difficulties in regulating dumping at sea is jurisdiction. Under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, open ocean for 200 nautical miles around coastal states is called the Exclusive Economic Zone. Outside that area the ocean is called the High Seas, international waters which don't belong to any one nation. Separate from the High Seas but linked to it is The Area ‘the seabed and ocean floor and subsoil thereof, beyond the limits of national jurisdiction’. The High Seas are thus largely jurisdictionless so the LC/LP (London Convention/London Protocol) provides jurisdiction.

The flag state usually has jurisdiction on the high seas to prevent the tragedy of the commons. So wherever the ship is registered, that country has the authority to do something about the waste the ship dumps illegally. Over the last 30 years, IMO has increasingly strengthened the jurisdiction of the port State to ensure compliance with IMO rules by ships voluntarily in foreign ports. There is also a concept called coast state not used extensively.

Of course, the state can only enforce if it has enacted regulations. It is the national legislation which makes the technical codes or guidelines developed by IMO mandatory and enforceable.

Unimplemented Measure No / More Implementation of Existing Measures Yes

The failure of states to implement the laws of the sea and IMO instruments hinders efforts to protect the marine environment. Annick de MorF, Director of the UN's Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea, at a recent meeting, accused states of laxity, "they are too happy just to react to accidents related to the use of the seas." Lack of national marine policies and lack of resources in people and administrative structure to apply the rules are two obstacles. She suggested that better implementation of existing measures rather than more measures that never get implemented would be wise.

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Elizabeth May, Leader of the Green Party of Canada and Member of Parliament for Saanich Gulf Islands writes that in the first omnibus budget Bill C-38, "Stephen Harper gutted environmental laws brought in by Brian Mulroney. Now he has gone after environmental laws brought in by Sir John A. Macdonald." The Navigable Waters Protection Act was enacted in 1882 and protects lakes, streams and rivers to remain navigable without impeding pipelines, bridges, power lines, dams, mining and industrial equipment. The changes in the omnibus Bill C-45 delists many waters so they will no longer be protected. May says many inland harbours including Shoal Harbour in her riding and gulfs such as the Gulf of St. Lawrence have been removed from the act renamed Navigation Protection Act. The Minister of Transport also has power to arbitrarily exempt projects from oversight under the Act and from already weakened (in the last bill) of environmental assessment.

An article on Bill C-45 published for first reading on October 18, 2012 by the law firm Davis LLP gives an initial context of the changes to the federal environmental approvals, Navigable Waters Protection Act, additional changes to Fisheries Act and the Hazardous Materials Information Review Act.

Lawyer Diane Saxe has a number of commentaries on both the progress of environmental changes due to the first budget bill and the second one. The Hazardous Materials Information Review Commission is to be disbanded to have its functions taken over by the Ministry of Health. HMIRC is responsible for reviewing trade secret exemptions and evaluating claims for exemptions as well as overseeing compliance of material safety data sheets and labelling under the Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System.

One of the problems she mentions: no reasons were given. GallonLetter thinks this is an all too common problem in this omnibus process. GallonLetter thought we had a vague idea about the rule of law but the nature of the exemptions in the Bridge to Strengthen Trade Act aside from all the exemptions from existing laws such as Species at Risk and Fisheries Act not only for the specific project but "related work" sounds beyond reasonable including "6. (1) The Governor in Council may, by order, exempt any person, on any condition that the Governor in Council considers to be in the public interest, from any requirement under any federal Act to obtain a permit, licence, approval or other authorization in relation to the construction of the bridge, parkway or any related work." Also there is a reason we have these environmental protection laws and this arbitrary exemption is a problem. Pollution such as killing of fish and birds is often also a proxy serving as the frontline indicators of threats for humans,

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