International Space Station (ISS)

In accordance with the Cabinet Directive on the Environmental Assessment of Policy, Plan and Program Proposals (2010), a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) Preliminary Scan was conducted by the Canadian Space Agency for continued investments in the International Space Station (ISS) Program announced in Budget 2016. The Preliminary Scan indicated this investment is unlikely to result in important environmental effects but would likely help advance some goals and targets of the 2016-2019 Federal Sustainable Development Strategy (FSDS) over the long term.

The ISS is a unique scientific platform on which Canada has partnered since 1986 and which has already provided benefits on Earth: lives have been saved as a result of station-generated images that supported disaster relief activities, new material technologies are improving products, and education programs are inspiring future scientists, engineers and space explorers.

The ISS offers a unique vantage for observing the Earth’s ecosystems and atmosphere with automated equipment. As a partner, Canada benefits from the data derived from environmental projects/technologies utilized on the ISS such as the Rapid Sat instrument which has improved weather forecasts, including hurricane monitoring, and understanding of how ocean-atmosphere interactions influence Earth's climate. The data transfer capabilities of the station enable a wide range of sophisticated sensor systems for examining trends in the Earth’s land surface and coastal oceans.

Similarly, Canada benefits from ISS science and technology activities that examine the role microorganisms play in waste and sewage treatment and processing, pollution control, and effects on greenhouse gases, and activities that advance water monitoring and filtration technology for impoverished communities and disaster relief efforts.

Canada’s continued participation in the ISS is therefore likely to help advance the following goals and targets of the 2016-2019 FSDS:

Effective action on climate change

  • Long-term goal: A low-carbon economy contributes to limiting global average temperature rise to well below two degrees Celsius and supports efforts to limit the increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius
    • Medium-term target: By 2030, reduce Canada's total GHG emissions by 30%, relative to 2005 emission levels

Healthy coasts and oceans

  • Long-term goal: Coasts and oceans support healthy, resilient and productive ecosystems
    • Medium-term target:
      • By 2020, 10% of coastal and marine areas are conserved through networks of protected areas and other effective area-based conservation measures
      • By 2020, all fish and invertebrate stocks and aquatic plants are managed and harvested sustainably, legally and applying ecosystem-based approaches starting at 96% in 2015

Sustainably managed lands and forests

  • Long-term goal: Lands and forests support biodiversity and provide a variety of ecosystem services for generations to come
    • Medium-term target:
      • By 2020, at least 17% of terrestrial areas and inland water are conserved through networks of protected areas and other effective area-based conservation measures
      • By 2019, the condition of 90% of ecological integrity indicators in national parks is maintained or improved
      • Between now and 2020, maintain Canada's annual timber harvest at or below sustainable wood supply levels
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