CBC News Federal Election



Let's face it, we all love the environment. What's not to love? Air to breathe, water to drink… But sometimes it may not be as clean as it could be, and that's why the federal government has a department to protect it.

One of the main ways Canada said it would protect the natural world is through the Kyoto Protocol on the Environment – a pledge by developed countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to approximately five per cent below 1990 levels by 2012. Canada has agreed to reduce emissions by six per cent.

     CBC LINK: The Kyoto Accord

But all is not necessarily moving along smoothly. Take a look at the last two reports by Canada's commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development Link opens in new window.

They say the federal government has allowed a widening gap between its environmental promises and its actions. Johanne Gélinas questions whether the government will meet its Kyoto commitments, and reports that federal departments are inconsistent in their efforts to meet sustainable development commitments.

Gélinas also reports that some government plans on reducing emissions on Canada's roads may not go far enough to meet Kyoto targets. She says the government “will have some difficulty determining whether these efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions will produce the expected results.”

Nor are all levels of government on-side. Alberta, for example, is the province with the highest emissions, and it is currently not in favour of the Canadian plan for Kyoto implementation. The provincial government says the plan would punish Alberta unnecessarily and may not be ultimately effective in reducing pollution.

Not all the provinces are opposed, though. Saskatchewan has expressed reservations about Kyoto, but Manitoba, Nunavut and P.E.I. have already signed agreements with the federal government on the priorities for reducing emissions.

Bureaucrats at the federal environment ministry say discussions have begun with Newfoundland and Yukon for such agreements, and Quebec, B.C., Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and the Northwest Territories have expressed interest. Ontario's new government still hasn't said what it will do.

There are also oil and gas and business interests to consider, Prime Minister. The Canadian Chamber of Commerce worries the plan might hurt Canada's economy, and the finances of small and large businesses.

The Sierra Club of Canada, a non-profit environmental group, calls implementing Kyoto "the most pressing environmental issue of our day." Martin von Mirbach, the national conservation director, says that while there are other important environmental issues, including protecting species at risk and the Mackenzie Valley Pipeline, "Canada's willingness to implement Kyoto is the crucial test" of any new government.

And that means you.

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