Environmentalists Say Canada Undermines Kyoto
By Jeff Mason and Alister Doyle
BRUSSELS/OSLO — The European Union urged Canada to respect goals for slowing global warming under the U.N.’s Kyoto Protocol on Monday as environmentalists accused Ottawa of seeking to scupper the pact.
Canada, the president of May 15-26 U.N. climate talks in Bonn, has said it cannot meet a legally binding target to cut emissions of heat-trapping gases by 2012 and that it will only take part in an extension if all nations agree.
“What I expect is that the Canadians will honor their commitments,” EU Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas told reporters in Brussels.
“The Canadian government of (Prime Minister) Stephen Harper is trying to sabotage 15 years of international efforts to address climate change,” the Climate Action Network, grouping environmentalists, said in a statement.
Canada’s new Conservative government says it has inherited an economy where emissions of greenhouse gases, mainly carbon dioxide from factories, power plants and cars, have already soared 35 percent above 1990 levels.
And Canadian Environment Minister Rona Ambrose said on Sunday that Canada would take on new commitments to cut emissions, mainly from burning fossil fuels, beyond 2012 only if there were a broad international consensus.
“If it includes all of our international partners, Canada will be at the table,” she said, adding that any agreement might be part of Kyoto or outside the pact. The United States, the world’s biggest source of emissions, is outside Kyoto.
“We are ready to work with the international community on this issue,” Ambrose told CTV television in an interview. Canada accounts for 3.3 percent of emissions by industrialized nations, roughly level with Italy on 3.1 and above France on 2.7 percent.
Negotiators from 163 nations are meeting in Bonn for talks on ways to extend Kyoto beyond 2012 to help prevent what could be wrenching climate changes such as more heat waves, droughts, floods and rising sea levels.
On Saturday, Canadian newspapers reported that Ottawa had instructed Canadian negotiators saying that: “Canada will not support agreement on language in the work program that commits developed countries to more stringent targets in the future.”
Ambrose said that the document had only been a draft. Canada is president of the talks after hosting a last round of U.N. negotiations in Montreal in late 2005.
Kyoto obliges rich nations to cut emissions by at least 5.2 percent below 1990 levels by 2008-12. Ambrose has said that Canada needs a break as a major energy exporter. Emissions are set to rise further as Alberta’s oil deposits are exploited.
The WWF conservation group said Ambrose should either reaffirm commitment to Kyoto or renounce Canada’s current presidency of the U.N. talks. Many other Kyoto countries are also struggling to reach their goals.
“Japan, Portugal and New Zealand all face challenges but are sill committed to their targets under Kyoto,” said Jennifer Morgan, climate policy director of WWF. “Canada should reaffirm its commitment to reach Kyoto goals.”
President George W. Bush pulled the United States out of Kyoto in 2001, saying that it would cost U.S. jobs and wrongly excluded developed nations from a first round of cuts to 2012.
“If Canada were to pull out it would leave Europe, Japan and New Zealand. It would be challenging to continue moving the negotiations forward with just these countries,” said Steven Guilbeault of Greenpeace.