Canada to encourage 'constructive' emissions agreement at UN talks: Baird
Environment Minister John Baird says Canada will head to a UN climate change conference in Bali with a "solid" plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions and will push for a "constructive" agreement with other countries to encourage global reductions.
Canada is among 190 countries participating in the UN climate change conference in Indonesia. Its purpose is to establish a blueprint for a new international pact that will replace the Kyoto Protocol after 2012.Some 10,000 people in all have gathered for two weeks of talks, which follow a series of scientific reports this year that concluded the world has the technology to slow global warming, but must act immediately.
Shortly before leaving for Bali, Baird told CBC News on Sunday that "we'll be arriving at this conference with a solid … plan to cut emissions here in Canada by 20 per cent by 2020 … and we want to work to get a constructive agreement, and such an agreement has to have countries, like the United States, China and India — all the big emitters — in order to be successful in this battle against climate change."
Baird is leading the official Canadian delegation, which does not include opposition politicians from the Liberal party, the NDP or the Bloc Québécois, a decision that was highly criticized on Parliament Hill when it was made last month.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Baird say that any new agreement must include all the world's major emitters of greenhouse gases and must impose absolute targets for them. Under Kyoto, the major emitters that are developing countries are exempt from targets because they are still developing their economies.
Baird's approach to the climate change talks has had its critics and some environmental groupswarning that insisting developing countries sign on sooner than they are ready to could damage a future deal after Kyoto ends.
"I think this bellicose approach is an attempt to scuttle the deal to make sure whatever deal comes out is less restrictive on Canada's emissions," said John Bennett, executive director of Ottawa-based Climate for Change.
Baird has also come under attack by opposition MPs on Parliament Hill who say his government's environmental plan has done little to cut greenhouse gases and does not likely mean Canada will meet its Kyoto emissions targets in time.
The plan, laid out in April, has Canada reaching its targets by 2020 or 2025, instead of 2012, the year laid out in the international treaty to curb climate change.
"You've not signed a single regulation sir, not a single regulation, that would direct industry as to what their limits will actually be," NDP environment critic Nathan Cullen told Baird at a recent meeting.
On Sunday, Greenpeace called on the Conservative government to honour its Kyoto commitment and enact new legislation requiring mandatory emission cuts to prevent dangerous climate change at home and abroad.
Under Kyoto, Canada agreed to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by six per cent below 1990 levels by 2008-2012, Greenpeace said. However, emissions actually increased 25 per cent by the end of 2005, the group said. Canada currently ranks seventh from the bottom amongst 41 industrialized nations in terms of emission changes since 1990, Greenpeace said.