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Canada's Kyoto Protocol plans in doubt

The federal government will not pull out of the international Kyoto Protocol on climate change, but it has no inten...


The federal government will not pull out of the international Kyoto Protocol on climate change, but it has no intention of meeting the targets, according to an April 7th report from The Globe and Mail newspaper.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper says his government is moving away from ineffective programs and working on a plan that will be more successful at reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The government decided not to renew several climate change programs that expired on March 31. On the same day, federal Minister of Environment Rona Ambrose provided a presentation for the GLOBE conference about “Made in Canada” solutions to meet Canada’s environmental challenges, including GHG reduction, and the status of past global initiatives.

“Since ratifying the Kyoto Protocol, our greenhouse gas emissions are up by 24 per cent – a far cry from the previous government’s commitment to meet a target of 6 per cent below the 1990 levels,” said Ambrose, adding that the United Staes, which is not a Kyoto ratifier, has done better.

During the recent election campaign, the government promised tax breaks for public transit users, legislation to reduce pollution and a renewable material requirement for gasoline. Harper says that the current Kyoto pact is unrealistic.

Some observers have noted that Canada’s economy relies heavily on resource extraction, including a large oil & gas industry, plus the newly-minted Alberta tar sands. This compounds the problem of high immigration levels and a country where a small population is spread over vast distances, unlike some European countries, for example, with dense populations. Australia, which has a somewhat similar situation, did not ratify Kyoto for those very reasons.

The Kyoto Protocol commits Canada to reduce its GHG emissions to six per cent below the levels they were at in 1990. More than 160 countries have agreed to it, including Canada, which ratified the deal in 2002.

Canada could remain in the Kyoto agreement without meeting the targets until 2012, at which point the second phase of the pact begins. After that, countries will be penalized for not meeting the targets.

For comment on hybrid cars (are they really all they’re cracked up to be?) see Editors Blog at left side of the home page at www.solidwastemag.com


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