The federal government voted in favour of ratifying the Kyoto Protocol on December 11, 2002, the fifth anniversary of the original signing of the deal in Japan. Prime Minister Jean Chretien informed his caucus that the vote on the motion to ratify Kyoto was considered a confidence motion, meaning that all Liberal Members of Parliament were expected to vote for the treaty or risk party discipline. The motion passed 195 to 77. The Canadian Alliance and Progressive Conservatives voted against accepting the treaty.
In the fall the Government of Canada released its draft plan, Climate Change: Achieving our Commitments Together. The plan — which involves about 240 megatonnes of emission reductions by 2012 — asks industry to bear as much as 40 per cent of the total burden for cutting greenhouse gases.
Several business leaders, premiers and provincial environment ministers have criticized the plan, saying it is unrealistic, based on questionable science, and too short on specifics.
The federal government has offered to reduce some of the ecnomic uncertainty by offereing industry a $15 cap on the per tonne cost of reducing carbon and Canadian consumers would cover anything over that amount. In a speech in Edmonton on December 3, the Prime Minister said that so-called heavy emitters, mostly energy companies, would be liable for only 55 megatonnes of the required emission reductions. Above 55 would be the responsibility of the government.
More than 96 countries have signed on so far, including all the European Union members and Japan. Australia and the United States have decided not to ratify the Kyoto Protocol.
Read the Editorial “Under the Weather” in the October/November edition of Hazardous Materials Management magazine at www.hazmatmag.com
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