In a speech on September 2, 2002 at the World Summit for Sustainable Development, Prime Minister Jean Chretien announced that he intends to ratify the controversial Kyoto Protocol by the end of the year, after consultations with the provinces are complete. In response, the Alberta government vowed to fight implementation, warning of a constitutional challenge.
The accord aims to reduce emissions believed to cause climate change. If ratified, Canada will be required to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 6 per cent below 1990 levels by 2012. But in a conference call with the National Post, Environment Minister David Anderson confirmed a National Post report that Canada will not fully comply with the treaty and instead will set a lower target for its emissions.
Canada’s plan, expected to be made public this fall, may only commit the country to reducing greenhouse gases by 30 per cent less than Canada’s target under the treaty — the amount of credit Canada maintains it should get for exporting “clean” sources of energy to the U.S.
The accord is expected to hit manufacturing and energy-producing areas such as Alberta the hardest. The Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters Association released a report this year that concludes that the implementation of the protocol could lead to plant closings throughout Canada and cost up to 450,000 manufacturing jobs by 2010. Some industry officials estimate that the adoption of the accord could cost Canadian businesses more than $5-billion a year.
Other critics argue that the science behind the protocol if flawed and not conclusive, and point to technical flaws related to information about human activity as a direct contributor to global warming.
Meanwhile, a federal government study entitled “The Kyoto Protocol and Industry Growth Opportunities” says that Canada’s environmental sector could become a $7-billion a year industry a few years after Canada ratifies the protocol. The study cites three major areas of opportunity: renewable energy sources such as hydro and wind, the development of new technologies such as energy-efficient appliances, and the upgrade of vehicles to improve fuel efficiency.
Kyoto in a nutshell:
The Protocol aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions using market-based mechanisms.
Canada, which signed the Protocol in 1998, accounts for an estimated two per cent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.
Thirty-eight industrialized countries are required to reduce emissions from 1990 levels — reductions would cut emissions by an estimated 5.2 per cent in the period 2008 – 2012.
Developing countries — including major greenhouse gas emitters such as China and India — are asked to set voluntary reduction targets.
The U.S., Canada’s main trading partner, has decided not to ratify the protocol, stating that it’s too expensive and that the protocol unfairly avoids setting emission targets for fast-growing developing nations such as China and India.
Target mechanisms for industrialized countries include: finance emission-reduction projects in developing countries and share credit; buy and sell excess credit; or, share emission-reduction targets.
(Source: Environment Canada / U.S. EPA)
For more information about the Kyoto Protocol and greenhouse gas emissions, read related articles and news items at the web sites www.solidwastemag.com and www.hazmatmag.com.
For more information on the WSSD, visit www.earthsummit2002.org