Harper agrees to send Clean Air Act to committee

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has agreed to send the government's clean air act to a special committee for review following a threat by Jack Layton to topple the government over the issue.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has agreed tosend the government's Clean Air Act to a special committee for review followingathreat by Jack Layton to topple the government over the issue.

The bill, which all opposition parties had said they would vote against,will now go through the unusual step of being reviewed by an all-party committee before second reading.

At the committee, it's expected to be overhauled by critics who say it doesn't do enough to slow climate change.

A Harper spokesperson said both sides still have to determine what committee will review the bill.

The NDP leader haddemanded changes to the government's environmental bill during a meeting with the prime minister Tuesday. But after the meeting, he said he was disappointed with Harper's reaction.

Layton had saidhe wouldn't rule out introducingano-confidence motion before the Commons on Thursday if Harper refused his demands.

But the NDP would rather get action on the environment than defeat the government, Layton said earlier in an interview with CBC News. "Our real goal here is to get some results."

Layton wants the Conservatives to tackle global warming "on an urgent basis," he said, by cutting tax subsidies for projects like the tarsands and regulating emissions from the biggest polluters within 13 months.

He dismissed the Tory proposal disclosed in October as "endless talk and consultation."

After years of talk by Liberal and Conservative governments, "it's time to take action," Layton said.

The NDP backs the targets set in the Kyoto climate-change accord, which, the Conservatives have said, cannot be met. Under theLiberals, emissions grew, putting the targetsfurther and further out of reach.

Even if the NDP had launched a no-confidence motion, the minority Conservative government would only fall ifmost of the Liberal and Bloc Québécois membersbacked the motion.

The Liberals have said Layton's move is a stunt.

Sets 'science-based targets'

Layton has introduced a private member's bill on climate change. The proposed climate change accountability act was tabled Tuesday.

The NDP website said the act sets "clear, science-based targets" that would require the federal government to start reducing greenhouse gases by 2007.

The bill requires greenhouse gas emissions to be cut 80 per cent below 1990 levels by 2050.

The Conservative bill would start reducing smog by 2010, but plans four years of discussions with industry on climate change.

There would be no hard caps on greenhouse gas emissions until 2020 at the earliest,but the government would seek to cut emissions by between 45 per cent and 65 per cent by 2050.

With files from the Canadian Press