In accordance with the Cabinet Directive on the Environmental Assessment of Policy, Plan and Program Proposals (2010), a strategic environmental assessment (SEA) was conducted for the Standards Council of Canada (SCC) Standards to Support Resilience in Infrastructure Codes and Guides. This SEA determined that the SCC programs will likely have positive direct and indirect environmental benefits over time which will serve to advance the goals and targets of the 2013-2016 Federal Sustainable Development Strategy (FSDS).
Canadians are currently experiencing the impacts of climate change; these impacts are more acute and severe in northern communities. Global Climate Models forecast that Canada's climate will continue to change; the extent of the changes and impacts will depend on the collective ability to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions at the national and international scale.
SCC's Infrastructure Programs will work to ensure that standards are effective in addressing the inherent risks posed from changing climate conditions to infrastructure design, planning, construction and management. To-date, there has been focussed attention on northern infrastructure through the Northern Infrastructure Standardization Initiative (NISI). An analysis of these programs found positive indirect environmental effects as enhanced standards can provide design professionals, regulators, owners, and operators with the tools to improve infrastructure resiliency that may contribute positively to meeting the goals and targets under the 2013–2016 FSDS. These include reduced GHG emissions and air pollution, reduced material requirements and extending infrastructure durability, decreased energy consumption, reduced waste, and the prevention and mitigation of environmental disasters. For example, improved standards can also provide the guidance to safeguard and strengthen the protection of embankments around oil tankers in permafrost regions and could help prevent oil spills or leaks from contaminating water supplies. SCC's programs will also indirectly support environmentally sustainable communities.
SCC's Standards to Support Resilience in Infrastructure Codes and Guides is likely to positively advance the following goals and targets of the FSDS:
- SCC's NISI program will advance Goal 1 and Target 1.2: Climate Change Adaptation in the 2013–2016 FSDS to address climate change by enabling capacity and providing the necessary tools to Indigenous and northern communities to adapt to climate change.
- SCC's programs will also advance Goal 4 and Target 4.7: Environmental Disasters, Incidents and Emergencies in the 2013–2016 FSDS to address protecting Canadians and their environment through developing enhanced infrastructure codes and standards that will adapt and mitigate the effects of climate change.