Canada pledges Kyoto support, to cut emissions

TORONTO, Reuters

Canada announced a 10-year plan to slash automotive emissions on Monday in an effort to reduce the greenhouse gases and meet its commitment to the Kyoto treaty on global warming.

During a summit in Toronto on urban pollution, Canada said it would invest more than C$109 million (US$72 million) on public transit, promoting low-emission vehicles and increased fuel efficiency, and developing cleaner alternative power sources.

Environment Minister David Anderson signed an agreement with the Canadian automotive industry to make a new generation of cleaner vehicles, starting this year. An industry official said Canada’s annual sales of about 1.5 million vehicles would be affected.

This voluntary reduction of hydrocarbons and oxides — which cause smog and are linked to climate change — would reduce emissions levels by up to 70 percent.

But critics dismissed Ottawa’s announcements on the grounds that Canada has also said it will co-operate with U.S. President George W. Bush on plans to develop oil and natural gas reserves for the energy-hungry U.S. market.

“All of this is completely irrelevant if Canada plans to pull out of the Kyoto project and go along with Bush’s continental energy plan,” said Peter Tabuns, executive director of Greenpeace Canada.

“Kyoto is dead as far as Canada is concerned,” he said. He said Canada would miss its targets by 44 percent if it increases oil production — due to pollution from the extraction process.

“The two items are not necessarily contradictory … We are on target to meeting our Kyoto target,” Anderson told reporters after the summit.

Commenting Bush’s proposal on Monday to use science and diplomacy to fight global warming, Anderson offered Canada’s co-operation, but said that a change in the lifestyles of North Americans was necessary.

“Certainly, more science will be helpful. I believe we have adequate science for taking the steps that are necessary under the Kyoto agreement — certainly for the first period (of reaching a target of 6 percent below 1990 emissions levels)” he told reporters.

In his speech, he blamed what he called “the narrow approach” of the European Union to limit the Kyoto protocol during the last round of negotiations in The Hague last November for disagreements over the best approach to the global warming issue.

“I urge the European Union to take advantage of today’s renewed expression of engagement by the United States to seriously re-examine the positions that prevented us from reaching an agreement — and let me remind you that that was before Mr. Bush became president of the United States,” he said.