The Heat Is Online

Canada Ratifies Kyoto Protocol

Canada Ratifies the Kyoto Climate Protocol
, Dec. 11, 2002

OTTAWA, Ontario, Canada, December 10, 2002 (ENS) - The Parliament of Canada voted today to ratify the Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, bringing the treaty to limit greenhouse gases one step closer to entry into force. Environmentalists cheered the vote, but industry remains opposed to the binding emissions limits.

The Canadian Cabinet is expected to pass an Order-in-Council to formalize the government's decision to ratify. Canada's decision will then be delivered to the United Nations on Wednesday, at which point the process will be officially complete.

The Kyoto Protocol becomes law when a minimum of 55 countries covering at least 55 percent of 1990 greenhouse gas emissions have ratified. Canada's vote brings the total to 98 countries, covering 40.7 percent of greenhouse emissions.

Russia's ratification, expected to take place in June 2003, will see the agreement take effect globally.

Canadian Environment Minister David Anderson presented the motion for ratification which was approved by a vote of 196 in favor and 77 against. The motion received the support of Liberal, Bloc Quebecois and New Democratic members.

Anderson believes Canada's support for the Kyoto Protocol will apply pressure to the United States to ratify the agreement, although President George W. Bush has rejected it as too economically risky for the U.S. economy.

"If we can do this and show that it can be done with minimum impact, the arguments of the United States will simply disappear," said Anderson. "And then we will see much more interest in the United States in taking part in the Kyoto process."

The Canadian government is working with governments of several U.S. states, including New York and California, to implement climate change "in a coordinated way across the continent," Anderson said.

Parliament turned down an opposing motion that the government not ratify the Kyoto Protocol "until an implementation plan is in place that Canadians understand, setting out the costs and benefits and how the targets are to be reached and until the plan can be agreed to by the provinces.” Although it was defeated, this motion expresses the concerns of many Canadians.

Speaking from New York City, Alberta Premier Ralph Klein who heads an oil and gas producing province, commented negatively on the ratification vote. "The federal Liberals have defied common sense and the objections of the provinces in order to grant the Prime Minister his Christmas wish," said Klein.

"The onus is now on the federal government to bring certainty to industry and to repair the damage caused by the unnecessary rush to ratify Kyoto by developing an implementation plan that works for Canada, Klein said.

"We're prepared to do whatever it takes - including launching a constitutional challenge, if necessary - to ensure that Alberta's concerns are addressed in Ottawa's implementation plan," the premier said.

Richard Paton, president of the Canadian Chemical Producers' Association, said, "If the House supports a motion on Kyoto, this should put more pressure on the government to come up with a plan. The protocol itself requires that an implementation plan be in place."

The Canadian Coalition for Responsible Environmental Solutions, on behalf of business organizations, industry associations and consumer advocacy groups, promoted a "Made in Canada" alternative solution to address global warming, spending millions on advertising and public awareness.

"By ratifying the Kyoto Protocol, the government has decided to commit Canadians without the benefit of a detailed game plan or any clear sense of the cost to the country," says Nancy Hughes Anthony, president and CEO of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce and CCRES member. "Ratification does not end the uncertainty for Canadian business, consumers or investors."

But environmentalists were pleased and encouraged by Parliament's vote. "Canada has set an example for North America by ratifying the Kyoto Protocol," said Jennifer Morgan, director of WWF's Climate Change Program. "With a similar economy and resource base as the United States, it is clear that America's neighbor to the North is ready to act responsibly in tackling climate change. If Canada can do it, so can the United States."

"This is a proud day for Canada, the federal government, and Greenpeace, who has been pushing for Kyoto ratification for several years," said Steven Guilbeault, Climate Campaigner for Greenpeace. "Kyoto will lead to greater efficiency in our homes, our transportation systems, and our economy in general."

Greenpeace too will be watching Canada's implementation plan to ensure that it "not be too lenient on industrial polluters and, in particular, the oil patch."

"Big industrial emitters represent more than 50 percent of our domestic emissions," said Guilbeault. "It is unreasonable to make individual consumers pay for their pollution."

But Alberta's Premier Klein is more interested in protecting the energy industry. "Now they owe it to Canadians to talk seriously and openly about how they're going to live up to the Prime Minister's promises to protect the energy industry and the economy," he said, especially since Canada will be the only country in the Western Hemisphere with Kyoto reduction targets."