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KYOTO ACCORD & GOVERNMENT

Harper: Canada Will Lead The Fight Against Climate Change
Time 10:12

September 7, 2007 - Stephen Harper says Canada will be a world leader in the fight against global warming and in the development of clean energy technology.

 

Friends of the Earth Canada Challenges Government
May 31, 2007 -Time 06:37

In a landmark action, environmental group Friends of the Earth Canada launches a lawsuit
against its government for breach of an international treaty, the Kyoto Protocol, using a domestic law.

David Suzuki Blasts Global Media
Time 3:35
Addressing the Australian National Press Club luncheon in October 2006, Canadian environmentalist Suzuki excoriates global media for their obsession with trivia in an era of global environmental crisis.

Most resist Canada walking away from the Kyoto Accord. - Decima Research

Canadians want action on the environment; action that reduces green house gases while preserving our standard of living and way of life. Unfortunately, previous Liberal governments failed to act while Canada's air quality got worse and greenhouse gas emissions skyrocketed. Conservatives are turning the corner with a practical, achievable plan to clean up Canada's air, land and water and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Conservatives are taking real action on the environment to build a stronger, safer, better Canada.

The Conservative Record
Introduced a balanced, achievable plan to reduce Canada's greenhouse gas emissions 20% by 2020 and cut air pollution in half by 2015. In this plan:
· For the first time ever, industry will be forced by law to meet tough emission reduction targets; and
· National caps for industrial emissions of four air pollutants commonly associated with smog and acid rain will be introduced
· Created $2 billion ecoENERGY Initiative to promote smarter energy use, greater use of clean energy sources, and cleaner use of traditional energy sources. This program includ Consumer oriented incentives like the ecoAUTO rebate for fuel efficient vehicles; and
· Grants to individuals and businesses to help them invest in energy and pollution-saving upgrades.es initiatives like:
Created $1.5 billion trust for clean air and climate change in partnership with the provinces and territories. This includes strategic investments like:
· The development of an East-West electrical transmission interconnect between Manitoba and Ontario;
· Support for research and innovation for the reduction and sequestration of greenhouse gases; and
· Support for the development of a "hydrogen highway", a network of hydrogen fuelling stations for fuel celled buses and vehicles, in British Columbia

Created $300 million Chemicals Management Plan to regulate chemicals harmful to human health and the environment
Dedicated $2 billion over seven years for the production of renewable fuels
A $225 million investment to acquire and preserve ecologically sensitive lands

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The Liberal Record
Former Liberal environment ministers Christine Stewart and David Anderson and former top policy advisor Eddie Goldenberg have all said the Kyoto Accord was never a priority for the Liberals or for Liberal leader Stéphane Dion
For 13 years, Liberals promsied to reduce greenhouse gas emissions but did nothing while Canada's greenhouse gas emmissions increased by 27%.
Liberals, according to a September 2006 report by the Auditor General's office, never had a viable plan to meet their Kyoto targets for greenhouse gas emmission reduction.
Liberals stood idly by as Canada slid to 28th out of 29 OECD nations in pollution regulation rankings.
Liberals are trying to make up for their previous failures with new legislation that will would plunge Canada into the worst recession in 60 years and kill 275,000 jobs.

The NDP Record
The NDP voted against $4.5 billion in funding to clean up Canada's air and water, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and combat climate change.
The NDP supported a Liberal environmental plan - Bill C-288 - that would cripple Canada's economy but do little to clean up Canada's air.

The Bloc Record
The Bloc talks a lot about environment. But what can they actually do other than talk? With the BLOC, we can't achieve anything.

Source: Conservative Party Webpage

In Depth
Kyoto and beyond
Canada-Kyoto timeline
Last Updated Feb. 14, 2007

CBC News

A Canada goose stands on railway tracks as a steel plant operates in the background in Hamilton, Ont. (Kevin Frayer/CP)
Canada was one of the first countries to sign the Kyoto Protocol, on April 29, 1998. Formal ratification came more than four years later - on Dec. 17, 2002.

But Canada's continued participation in Kyoto seemed certain to end with the election of a minority Conservative government on Jan. 23, 2006. Part of the party's platform was to ditch Kyoto and come up with a made-in-Canada approach to reducing the emissions blamed for global warming.

And when the Conservatives tabled their first budget on May 2, 2006, it contained no mention of the Kyoto Protocol. Instead, the budget merely repeated the earlier Harper government pledge to develop a "made-in-Canada" climate change program that would cost $2 billion over five years. Beyond that, however, there are few details. In October 2006, the government said it would introduce a Clean Air Act focused on cutting smog. There was no mention of Kyoto.

In adopting Kyoto, the previous Liberal government pledged that Canada would reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by six per cent below 1990 levels by the five-year commitment period of 2008 to 2012. Canada's 2002 climate change plan committed the country to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 240 million tonnes a year by the end of 2012. It proposes a three-stage strategy to achieve that goal through a combination of incentives, regulations and tax measures.

On March 31, 2006, environment minister Rona Ambrose told a Vancouver audience that since ratifying Kyoto, Canada's "greenhouse gas emissions are up by 24 per cent - a far cry from the previous government's commitment to meet a target six per cent below the 1990 levels."

"And that is why we are taking action to clean up our own backyard right here within our borders - local action for global change."

Ambrose said the government would introduce its own Clean Air Act that would focus on achieving tangible results. Part of the plan would be to encourage people to take public transit by offering tax breaks on monthly transit passes and increasing the average ethanol content in gasoline and diesel fuel to five per cent by 2010.

Ambrose later endorsed the Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate, an alternative to the Kyoto Protocol backed by the United States, Australia, Japan, China, India and South Korea. The pact's emissions reductions targets are voluntary.

The Canada-Kyoto timeline:

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1987

March 16: Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer signed in Montreal. Treaty bans CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons) in developed countries by 1995 and everywhere else by 2010.

1988

June 27-30: Toronto Conference on the Changing Atmosphere calls threat from climate change "second only to a global nuclear war" and calls for 20 per cent cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2005.

1997

Dec. 11: More than 160 nations gather in Kyoto to negotiate binding limits on greenhouse gases in the developed world. Agreement, known as the Kyoto Protocol, calls for a reduction of five per cent of greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 levels by the 2008-2012 period.

1998

April 29: Canada signs Kyoto Protocol, pledging to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by six per cent from 1990 levels by the commitment period ending in 2012.

2000

Oct. 6: Federal government brings in its "Action Plan 2000 on Climate Change" in which it commits $500 million on measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

2001:

March: U.S. President George W. Bush says the U.S. will not ratify Kyoto, calling it economically irresponsible.

2002

Feb. 14: U.S. President Bush unveils "Clean Skies" initiative that targets acid rain and air pollution, rather than specific greenhouse gas emissions targeted by Kyoto. Initiative proposes to directly tie cuts in greenhouse gas emissions to growth of GDP.

Nov. 21: Federal government formally releases its Climate Change Plan for Canada. Plan promises annual cuts of 240 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions.

Dec. 17, 2002: Canada formally ratifies Kyoto Protocol, with the Liberal government calling it "an important milestone in Canada's contribution to addressing climate change."

2003

Aug. 12: Ottawa pledges $1 billion more for its climate change plan, offering incentives to consumers and industry. Total federal spending on Kyoto reaches $3.7 billion.

2004

March 26: Canadian government issues "One Tonne Challenge," which calls on every Canadian to cut greenhouse gas emissions by a tonne a year through such things as taking public transit more often, composting food waste, and using programmable thermostats.

April 12: Environment Canada releases 2002 greenhouse gas inventory. Report shows Canada emitted 731 million tonnes of greenhouse gases that year, up 2.1 per cent over 2001, and 28 per cent above the Kyoto target of 572 million tonnes it must reach by 2012.

Sept. 30: Russia approves Kyoto and later formally ratifies it, giving the protocol enough support for it to go into force in February 2005.

December: Canada finally abandons attempt to win emission credits for exporting clean natural gas and hydroelectric power to the U.S.

2005

January: Several media organizations say Ottawa is about to announce a revamp of its 2002 Kyoto implementation plan.
Feb. 16: Kyoto Protocol formally goes into force. Canada still has not released details of how it will achieve its Kyoto commitments.

March 23: The federal government and Canada's car makers reach an agreement on emissions standards. Automakers agree that its new vehicles will cut emissions by 5.3 megatonnes by 2010 as part of Ottawa's Kyoto plan.

April 6: The minority Liberal government offers to pull a controversial provision dealing with the Kyoto accord from its budget bill. The opposition Conservatives, NDP and Bloc Québécois have all said they would vote against the budget because of the provision, which would make greenhouse gas emissions a controlled substance so Ottawa could regulate them. In order to appease the opposition, Liberal House leader Tony Valeri offers a deal to Conservative House leader Jay Hill that will allow the finance committee to reject the proposal.

April 13: The federal government announces details of its Kyoto implementation plan, which revamps the plan it put in place almost three years earlier. The government pledges $10 billion to cut greenhouse gases by 270 megatonnes a year by 2008-2012. The plan relaxes emission targets for large industrial polluters.

April 14: Environmentalists say parts of Ottawa's new plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions will be good for the Atlantic region. The Atlantic chapter of the Sierra Club of Canada says promoting the use of alternative energy sources is ideal because Atlantic Canada has a high wind potential. But they're disappointed with the targets set for large polluters. Large companies create almost half of the country's emissions, but they are only required to reduce them by about 14 per cent.

A Yukon environmental group says federal plans fall far short of what's needed. The Yukon Conservation Society says the government is only promising to consult with large firms that produce about 50 per cent of Canada's greenhouse gas emissions, rather than force them to cut their CO2 production.

Nov. 3: Alberta files a formal objection to the federal government's plans to implement the Kyoto accord and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Alberta has long opposed the Kyoto accord, saying it will hurt the province's lucrative oil and gas industry. Provincial Environment Minister Guy Boutilier says Alberta should be allowed to put its own legislation in place to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.

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2006

Jan. 23: The Conservatives win a minority government, unseating the Liberals. Part of the Conservatives' platform was scrapping Canada's Kyoto commitments.

March 31: Environment Minister Rona Ambrose tells a Vancouver audience that the government will be introducing legislation containing "made-in-Canada" targets in the fight against air and water pollution.

April 5: Natural Resources Minister Gary Lunn tells CBC News that the government has cut funding to several climate change programs. They include the much-publicized One Tonne Challenge, 40 public information offices across the country and several scientific and research programs on climate change.

April 25: Rona Ambrose tells reporters Canada supports the Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate, an alternative to the Kyoto Protocol which holds that emission targets should be voluntary and looks at developing technologies that reduce emissions.

Ambrose says she supports the pact because it includes China and India, which are not bound by Kyoto targets. The other member countries of the six-nation pact are the United States, Australia, Japan, and South Korea.

May 2: The Conservatives' first federal budget makes no specific mention of the Kyoto Protocol, but brings in a tax credit for the purchase of monthly transit passes.

Sept. 28: Canada's environment commissioner releases a report critical of the previous Liberal government, saying the country can't meet its Kyoto targets. However, she said the government should set new targets.

Oct. 10: The Harper government says it plans to implement a "made-in-Canada" plan that includes a Clean Air Act. The legislation will impose tough regulations on smog-producing industries. He said the plan would replace the current "ad hoc patchwork system." He did not mention the Kyoto accord.

Nov. 2: Prime Minister Stephen Harper agrees to send the Clean Air Act to a special committee for review after NDP Leader Jack Layton threatens to topple the government over the issue.
Opposition parties said they would vote against the bill, so it is now being reviewed by an all-party committee before the second reading.

Dec. 2: Liberals elect their new leader, Stéphane Dion, who served as an environment minister in the Jean Chrétien government. He is a strong supporter of the Kyoto protocol and announces his intention to focus on environmental issues in a post-victory speech.

2007

Jan. 4: In a cabinet shuffle, Environment Minister Rona Ambrose is replaced by former Treasury Board president John Baird. The move is seen as a response to new Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion's pledge to clean up the environment.

At the news conference, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said when it comes to clean air and climate change the government is prepared to "drive this agenda to a conclusion."
Feb. 1: Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion tables a motion to make the Harper government reaffirm Canada's commitment to Kyoto, referring to "overwhelming scientific evidence" that climate change is the result of human activity.

Feb. 2: The United Nations releases a 21-page report that pinpoints human activity as a "very likely" cause of global warming. International scientists and officials hail the report, which states with a 90 per cent certainty that global warming is caused by the burning of fossil fuels.

After the report's release, Environment Minister John Baird said "real action" is needed on global warming.

Feb. 8: Environment Minister John Baird announces plans to introduce legislation that would regulate industrial pollutants as part of the Conservatives' proposed Clean Air Act, to take effect in January 2010. Baird also said Canada will not attempt to meet Kyoto's greenhouse gas targets.

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In Depth
Kyoto and beyond
Kyoto Protocol FAQs
Last Updated Feb. 14, 2007

CBC News

Depending on who you talk to, the Kyoto Protocol is either a) an expensive, bureaucratic solution to fix a problem that may not even exist; or b) the last, best chance to save the world from the "time bomb" of global warming.
Those are the extremes in what has become a polarizing debate that has engaged governments, consumers, environmental groups and industry all over the world for more than 20 years.

The problem the Kyoto Protocol is trying to address is climate change, and more specifically, the speed at which the earth is warming up. Whether Kyoto can accomplish this is very much a matter of debate.
For the record, when the Kyoto Protocol went into effect Feb. 16, 2005, 141 countries had ratified it, including every major industrialized country - except the United States, Australia and Monaco. The U.S. is responsible for about a quarter of the emissions that have been blamed for global warming.

Two of the world's fastest growing polluters - India and China - have signed on. But because they are considered developing countries, with other serious problems to overcome, they have been given a pass on the first Kyoto round and do not have to begin making emissions cuts until after 2012.

· Is the climate changing?
· What are the very long-term climate predictions?
· What is causing the world to warm up?
· Isn't there a lot of debate over the whole issue of climate change?
· What does the Kyoto Protocol require?
· Does the American decision to pull out of the Kyoto protocol doom the deal?
· How are emission targets met?
· Is Canada still planning to meet its Kyoto commitments?
· What happens if a country fails to reach its Kyoto emissions target?

Is the climate changing?

The United Nations certainly thinks so. And so do most (but not all) scientists who study climate.

In February 2007, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a report that said global warming was "very likely" - meaning an at least 90 per cent certainty - caused by human activity.

The report has some telling predictions. The document forecasts that the average temperature will rise 1.8 C to 4 C by the year 2100 and sea levels will creep up by 17.8 centimetres to 58.4 centimetres by the end of the century. If polar sheets continue to melt, another rise of 9.9 centimetres to 19.8 centimetres is possible.

Past reports from the organization have examined the changes in the previous century. In a 2001 report, the IPCC said the average global surface temperature had risen by about 0.6 degrees since 1900, with much of that rise coming in the 1990s - likely the warmest decade in 1,000 years.

The IPCC also found that snow cover since the late 1960s has decreased by about 10 per cent and lakes and rivers in the Northern Hemisphere are frozen over about two weeks less each year than they were in the late 1960s. Mountain glaciers in non-polar regions have also been in "noticeable retreat" in the 20th century, and the average global sea level has risen between 0.1 and 0.2 metres since 1900.
Simply put, the world is getting warmer and the temperature is rising faster than ever.

What are the very long-term climate predictions?

The IPCC predicts more floods, intense storms, heat waves and droughts. Its study forecasts a rise of 1.4 to 5.8 degrees Celsius in the global mean surface temperature over the next 100 years, with developing countries most vulnerable.

Other studies are even more apocalyptic. A report commissioned by the World Wildlife Fund predicts "dangerous" warming of the earth's surface in as little as 20 years, with the Arctic warming so much that its polar ice could melt in the summer by the year 2100, pushing polar bears close to extinction.

The Arctic Climate Impact Assessment predicts that caribou, musk ox and reindeer would find their habitats severely reduced. Northern aboriginal peoples around the world would find their way of life changed forever, the study said.

What is causing the world to warm up?

Greenhouse Gases

99 per cent of our atmosphere is made up of only two gases: 78 per cent nitrogen and 21 per cent oxygen. They don't really affect the climate regulation on the planet.

The six trace gases that are blamed for global warming make up only 1 per cent of gases in the atmosphere. The gases created mainly by human activities are:
· Carbon dioxide
· Methane
· Nitrous oxide
· Sulphur hexafluoride
· Hydrofluorocarbons
· Perfluorocarbons

Most scientists blame industrialization. Since the 19th century, the richer countries of the Northern Hemisphere have been pumping out ever-increasing volumes of heat-trapping greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide. Industrial societies burn fossil fuels in their power plants, homes, factories and cars. They clear forests (trees absorb carbon dioxide) and they build big cities.

Greenhouse gases allow solar radiation to pass through the earth's atmosphere. But after the earth absorbs part of that radiation, it reflects the rest back. That's where the problem lies. Particles of greenhouse gas absorb the radiation, heating up, and warming the atmosphere. The increasing levels of greenhouse gases are causing too much energy to be trapped - the so-called greenhouse effect.

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Isn't there a lot of debate over the whole issue of climate change?

Greenhouse gas emissions targets apply to 38 industrialized countries and "economies in transition"

For a list of these countries and their emissions targets, click here: UNFCCC

While scientists tend to agree that the earth is warming, not all agree that rising greenhouse gas emissions are the culprits. A vocal minority say the earth's climate warms and cools in long cycles that have nothing to do with greenhouse gases.

Some dispute the data concerning rising sea levels and rising temperatures. Others dispute the projections, which are based on computer models. But again, those views are those of a minority. Most climatologists agree that global warming is causing unprecedented climate change…and that things will get worse unless something is done.

What does the Kyoto Protocol require?

The Kyoto Protocol was adopted in late 1997 to address the problem of global warming by reducing the world's greenhouse gas emissions. It is considered a first step and is not expected to solve the world's climate change problems by the time its first commitment period ends in 2012.

Kyoto sets out an agenda for reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 5.2 per cent from 1990 levels (although "economies in transition," like Russia, can pick different base years). Some reports say the lower target is to be met by 2010. But that's shorthand for the actual target date, which is to achieve those emission cuts over a five-year average (2008 to 2012).

All countries are not treated equally by Kyoto. Canada, for instance, has committed to chopping its greenhouse gas emissions by six per cent. The U.S. target was a seven per cent reduction. But in 2001, one of the first acts of newly-elected President George W. Bush was to formally withdraw the U.S. from Kyoto. Bush said the U.S. would not ratify the treaty because it would damage the U.S. economy and major developing nations like China and India were not covered by its provisions.

Kyoto also allows some industrialized countries to make no cuts, or even to emit more greenhouse gases that they did in 1990. Russia's and New Zealand's emission levels are capped at their 1990 levels. Iceland can emit up to 10 per cent more greenhouse gases, Australia eight per cent more. (Like the U.S., Australia has announced it won't ratify Kyoto). Developing nations are not subject to any emissions reduction caps under Kyoto.

Much of the criticism around the Kyoto Protocol is over political realities and the limitations of the treaty. Critics say a five per cent cut will accomplish little, especially with the United States not on board. Some Canadian critics say our economy will pay a heavy price for meeting our Kyoto commitments because we'll have to compete with an American economy that faces no such restrictions. Many doubt that Canada's target cuts can be reached in Kyoto's first phase that ends in 2012.

Others say the money to implement Kyoto would be much better spent on improving land usage and infrastructure in poor countries.

Does the American decision to pull out of the Kyoto Protocol doom the deal?

The American decision was not enough to kill Kyoto. One of President Bush's first acts was to announce that he would not send Kyoto to the Senate for ratification - mainly because the deal had little chance of being passed. He also argued Kyoto would be bad for the U.S. economy and would be ineffective, because major developing nations like India and China were not covered by its provisions.
But that didn't stop world ratification of the protocol. Russia came onboard on Sept. 30, 2004. That gave the deal enough support to come into effect on Feb. 16, 2005.

Still, no country on the planet is responsible for producing as much greenhouse gas as the United States. Without significant action from the Americans, Kyoto's targets would be difficult to reach.

How are emission targets met?

Emission targets can be met several ways. The most obvious way is to actually reduce greenhouse gas emissions - more fuel-efficient cars, fewer coal-fired power plants. But Kyoto also allows for three other mechanisms.

Countries can buy emissions credits from countries that don't need them to stay below their emissions quotas. A country can also earn emissions credits through something called joint implementation, which allows a country to benefit by carrying out something like a reforestation project in another industrialized country or "economy in transition." There's also what's called a clean development mechanism that encourages investment in developing countries by promoting the transfer of environmentally-friendly technologies.

Each developed country must develop its own strategy to meet its Kyoto commitments. Industrial countries that ratify Kyoto are legally bound to see that their emissions do not exceed their 2008/2012 targets.

Is Canada still planning to meet its Kyoto commitments?

In a word - no. The election of a Conservative government in 2006 brought about a reversal in Canada's climate change policy. The specific emissions reduction targets of the Kyoto Protocol - at least as far as Canada was concerned - would be abandoned.

In April 2005, then prime minister Paul Martin and his Liberal government unveiled what they called Moving Forward on Climate Change: A Plan for Honouring Our Kyoto Commitment. Under their revised plan, the Liberals pledged to spend $10 billion over seven years to help Canada cut its average greenhouse gas emissions by 270 megatonnes a year from 2008 to 2012.

However, when Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the Conservative government tabled the federal budget in May 2006, there wasn't a single mention of the Kyoto Protocol. Finance Minister Jim Flaherty repeated his pledge to develop a $2-billion, five-year "made-in-Canada" climate change plan, but there were no details. The budget also set aside $370 million over two years for a new tax credit that would benefit commuters who buy monthly transit passes.

In September 2006, Environment Minister Rona Ambrose said Canada had no chance of meeting its targets under the Kyoto Protocol. She accused the Liberals of wasting $1 billion on emission-reduction efforts without keeping the country on track to meet its promises under the international agreement. "Kyoto did not fail this country," Ambrose said. "The Liberal Party of Canada failed Kyoto."
Ambrose said the government would instead act on greenhouse gases and other pollution with new targets in a proposed clean air act, announced in October 2006.

The Clean Air Act targets would be "intensity-based," meaning that environmental emissions would be relative to the economic output of various industries. That means even though individual emission limits for each barrel of oil or piece of coal could be lowered, if production increases, the overall amount of greenhouse gas emissions and air pollutants could grow.

Critics of intensity-based targets say the approach allows heavily polluting industries, such as Alberta's oilsands, to continue to grow and pollute while remaining under government-imposed limitations.
The bill does not set short-term targets to cut greenhouse gas emissions, and its emissions regulations on large polluters don't take effect until 2010.

What happens if a country fails to reach its Kyoto emissions target?

The Kyoto Protocol contains measures to assess performance and progress. It also contains some penalties. Countries that fail to meet their emissions targets by the end of the first commitment period (2012) must make up the difference plus a penalty of 30 per cent in the second commitment period. Their ability to sell credits under emissions trading will also be suspended.



GENERAL
INFORMATION