There has been a need to reduce climate change and environmental emissions over the last decade. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 80% of people living in cities are exposed to air pollution levels that surpass the defined guidelines. This disorder helps to control air quality, which causes health issues in people who live near urban areas, such as respiratory complications. In urban city dwellers, air pollution is a significant cause of death and disease. A growing range of actors including national governments, UN-Habitat, WWF, Action Aid, Transition towns, HSBC, the Clintons Climate foundation, the Rock Feller Foundation and the World Bank have sought out to mobilize actions in response to this ‘urgent agenda’ (WHO 2016). This led to the establishment of Clean Air Cut policy in Canada, which to my opinion goes beyond the legitimate authority of the country.
Clean air act policy in Canada
The Intention of the clean air act was to reduce the greenhouse emissions from about 45-65% of the 2003 levels so that by the year 2020, greenhouse emissions will less than 30%. The policy involves mitigating the risk to health of Canadians and the environment from the exposure to air pollutions; providing economic benefits; and maintaining competitiveness from innovations related to reducing air pollution and addressing climate change (Clean Air Agenda 2012).
In Canada, the Clean Air Regulatory Agenda (CARA) was an initiative of the clean air cut policy to support Government of Canada in its efforts to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) and air pollutant emissions. This policy intended to improve the environment and health of Canadians. CARA also plays a key role in Government transportation sector and the proposed coal-fired electricity regulations.
Clean transport is one of the initiatives under the clean air act focused on reducing GHG and air pollutants emissions from the transport sector. This is through establishment of transport sector regulations and the next-generation clean transportation initiatives. This was due to increase gas emissions by 31% from 128 mega tonnes (mt) in 1990 to 168mt in 2007. The policy came under the basis of a strong period of economic growth and low prices from 1990-1999 coupled with high pollution rates that promoted the fleet composition and raised a concern to act (Canada’s Emission Trends 2013).
Through implementation of this policy, the Government of Canada played a key role internationally to fight against climate change and global warming. It has participated in several agreements to reduce the emissions of GHG and reduce pollution globally. It played a key role in negotiating the Montreal protocol in 1987 which focused on climate agreement and the ozone saving as well as in negotiating the Paris agreement in 2005 where other global actors met to discuss the need for governments and countries to cut the carbon emission more so the hydro fluorocarbons (HFCs). According to the world research institute, it estimated that the Paris agreement would cut the global levels of HFCs by 80% to 85%. This created the basis for the implementation of the Clean Air Act policy.
The policy goes beyond the state authority to influence other actions in the global fight against climate change and emission of gases in various countries. For a policy to work effectively, it must build sustainable international agreements within which entrepreneurs and markets can function.
According to the contemporary understanding of political thought, Jeremy Bentham believed in the philosophy of Utilitarianism which was used to judge all things by overall level of happiness (or utility- hence utilitarianism) (Sutch and Robert p. 12-13)³. Bentham showed that everything was good as far as it tended to produce a high and not a low level of happiness in the society. People will tend to accept policies that favour their well-being more than policies that will lead to negative impacts to their communities, health and their environment.
According to utilitarianism philosophy, clear and strong environmental regulations will lead to an increase in economic benefit on the people of Canada. It will promote more investment in technology and innovations by the Government and other institutions. This will in turn lead to an increase in productivity, greater competitiveness, and more opportunities to sell Canadian environmental products that will increase more job opportunities. Eventually, people will be able to sustain themselves and their families by providing the basic needs.
In addition, the regulations placed in the clean air act policy will bring more health benefits. There will be fewer cases of respiratory diseases like asthma, heart attacks and strokes since the government may levy a duty heavy tax to firms that produce more emission of gases as agreed.
Canada is under the constitution Act 1864. The law hence guides the state in implementating policies that affect any particular part of the country. The clean air policy is under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 that emphasizes on air quality standards by regulating industrial emissions.
The environmental groups like World Health Organization only work towards a clean and a pollution free environment just like ethical expectations in a certain state. They let the government of a particular country to impose proposed policies. The government then acts within the confines of the law of the country to impose the policy. Hence, the Clean Air Act policy does not go beyond the legitimate authority of the country.
Response to the objection
We are living in an unprecedented era where climate change is not only affecting countries by themselves but it is a global crisis affecting the continent. Therefore, there is need for countries to agree together to see how they can mitigate the climate change crisis across the globe. Production of GHG in various countries like United States, Canada, United Kingdom and China in the atmosphere poses a greater risk to the increase of global warming which facilitates the melting of glaciers in Polar Regions that in turn increases the sea level. Areas that are near the sea levels are at the risk of being flooded which then causes migration of people from their localities to look for other places to settle. Not only does the emission of gases affect the country in which air pollution is high, it also affects other countries globally, resulting to global warming. Hence, the reason why the clean air act goes beyond legitimate authority of Canada.
Clean Air Act policy has led to positive impacts on the people of Canada. It has led to the reduction in the number of reported cases of people suffering from respiratory health problems. It also protects against environmental depletion. Apart from that, it not only focuses on imposing taxes to big firms and industries to reduce air pollution in Canada, but it also goes beyond the legitimate authority to meet global environmental expectations. As well, it educates people on the need to avoid sources of energy that produce carbon gases and embrace clean energy resources.
Clark, Brette and Richard York. “Theory and society.” Carbon metabolism: Global
capitalism, Climate change, and the biospheric rift., 2005: 391-428.
Metcalf, Cherie. “Climate Law in Canada: International Law’s Role under Environmental
Federalism.” UNBLJ 65 (2014):86.
Sutch and Robert. “The Nature of Political Thought.”
Weber, Jeremy. The Constitution of Canada: A Contextual Analysis. Bloomsburry
WHO. September, 2016. Retrieved from