The federal government unveiled an estimated $10-billion plan Wednesday to meet its Kyoto targets to cut greenhouse emissions by 2012.
"Canada will do its share for the planet because that is our responsibility," said Environment Minister StÃ©phane Dion.
The goal of the plan is to reduce Canada's greenhouse emissions by 270 megatonnes between 2008 and 2012. It's unclear how much of the total will be the result of actually cutting pollution and how much will be done by purchasing emission credits abroad.
A major part of the long-awaited plan involves the Climate Change Fund, a billion-dollar clean air pot of money that will let companies in Canada buy and sell emission credits, as well as buy credits from countries that have already met their targets.
The plan also calls for a $250-million partnership fund for the provinces.
One possible project to come from the fund is a power grid that connects the country from east to west so that provinces can have access to clean hydro-electric power instead of relying on coal-fired power plants.
Ottawa will also set aside money for a research fund to go toward science and technology and bring Canada in line with other countries. Although the U.S. has refused to sign the Kyoto Protocol, it has put money in this area to deal with climate change.
There will also be a plan to try to persuade individual Canadians and smaller groups to cut back on their consumption of energy.
The plan calls on large emitters to cut emissions by 36 megatonnes, substantially less than the 55 megatonnes called for in the original Kyoto plan.
But much of the plan is subject to future negotiations with both the provinces and Canadian industry. It also does not lay out the specific amount of pollution Canadians and businesses must reduce.
NDP Leader Jack Layton criticized the plan, saying it doesn't do enough for the environment.
"We've had 12 years of promises by Paul Martin. He's brought a pathetic plan." Layton said this plan sets no real standards and no way of enforcing them.
Mathew Bramley of the Pembina Institute, an environmental policy research organization, said the plan isn't tough enough on industry.
He said industrial sources account for 50 per cent of Canada's greenhouse gas emissions. But industry will be required to contribute only 13 per cent of the reductions, he said.
"Taxpayers are going to take on a stiff burden of costs to find emission reductions for Kyoto, while industry is really going to be asked to make overall what represents an economically insignificant contribution," said Bramley.
"We don't think that's equitable. We don't think that's reasonable."
The Canadian Chamber of Commerce said the plan not only involves spiralling costs but will create significant competitive challenges for business in Canada.
The Kyoto Protocol is designed to reduce the impact of global warming by lowering the amount of emissions pumped into the air around the globe.
Canada has committed to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions to six per cent below 1990 levels.