Canada reaffirms commitment to Kyoto

Despite the US pulling out of the Kyoto Protocol and hinting that other nations felt likewise, Canada’s Environment Minister has reaffirmed that the agreement’s implementation “is Canada’s goal”.

Environment Minister David Anderson made the announcement on 4 April, after meeting with European Environment Commissioner Margot Wallstrom and representatives of the Sweden and Belgium governments to discuss how progress could be made in the international climate change negotiations, in the light of the US pullout days before (see related story).

“During our meeting, I reiterated our Government’s firm position that implementation of the Kyoto Protocol,” Anderson said. “We respect the Protocol and intend to meet the greenhouse gas emission reduction commitment we made in Kyoto in 1997.” The Minister described the US position as “disappointing”, and said that Canada “regrets this new position”.

However, Anderson also metered out criticism of the European Union’s position in citing Canadian disappointment at the failure of the climate change talks at The Hague last November “after divisions developed within the European Union at the last minute” (see related story). Among the areas where Canada disagreed with the EU position was on the use of ‘flexible’ market-based mechanisms, especially including carbon ‘sinks’ in developing nations as national greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. “Ms Wallström’s visit today suggests that the European Union recognizes that all parties, including European Union member states, will have to modify their positions on key issues if we hope to make progress when climate change negotiations resume formally from 16-27 July in Bonn, Germany,” Anderson said.

The Minister said that as a northern country, Canada, is particularly susceptible to and already seeing the signs of increased temperatures, particularly in the Arctic. “We also recognize that we are among the top ten emitters in the industrialized world, and among the highest on a per capita basis,” he said. “That is why we are investing aggressively in new technologies and new approaches to fight climate change”. However, government figures released last year showed that greenhouse gas emissions in 1998 were 19% above the level set under the Kyoto Protocol, placing Canada’s targets in severe doubt (see related story).

Anderson said that the government’s CA$1.1 billion (US$700 million) commitment in the last year would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than 65 megatonnes per year, which when implemented, will take “us one third of the way to our target”. He also said that policy work to determine how to achieve the remainder of the target was continuing along with action plans in most provinces and territories.

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