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Canada's Conservatives outline planned CO2 cuts
OTTAWA, April 25 (AFP) Apr 25, 2007
Canada will halt a swell of greenhouse gas emissions within three to five years and aim to reduce its CO2 venting by 20 percent by 2020, Environment Minister John Baird said Wednesday.

"We find ourselves today with one of the worst environmental records among industrialized countries," he said. "We need to turn things around."

The new plan would impose "stringent targets" on local industry to cut air pollution in half by 2015, fund clean technology, use the clean development mechanism under the Kyoto Protocol, and take advantage of domestic emissions trading, with possible future linkages with trading systems in the United States and Mexico.

Companies which reduce their CO2 emissions linked to global warming prior to 2006 would also be rewarded with a one-time credit for early action.

The complete plan is due to be released Thursday.

Canada had agreed under the international Kyoto Protocol to reduce carbon emissions to 6.0 percent below 1990 levels by 2012, but a 2006 government environmental audit found emissions had instead increased by 26.6 percent.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has maintained that the Kyoto targets, agreed to by a previous Liberal government, are unattainable.

The Conservative government had introduced a bill in October 2006 to reduce Canada's CO2 emissions by 45-65 percent by 2050, based on 2003 emissions. But it was widely panned for allowing emissions to continue to rise until 2020.

Last week, Baird outlined a doomsday economic scenario if Ottawa imposed tougher measures to cut carbon emissions in order to meet Canada's Kyoto Protocol commitment.

He told a senate committee reviewing a private member's bill to try to force the minority Conservative government to meet its Kyoto timetable that these emissions cuts would have "a devastating effect on the Canadian economy."

More than 275,000 Canadians would lose their jobs by 2009 and Canada's unemployment rate would rise by 25 percent, he predicted.

Canada's economy meanwhile would decline by more than 6.5 percent relative to current projections in 2008, falling about 4.2 percent or about 51 billion Canadian dollars (45 billion US) below the 2007 level.

"That implies a deep recession in 2008," Baird said then. "I believe this is a massive and unacceptable cost for Canadian families."

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