Canada

Parliament poised to ratify Kyoto Protocol

Harper tells Liberals that Tuesday's Kyoto vote won't be the end of the issue.

Parliament will most likely vote on Tuesday to ratify the Kyoto accord, but the Opposition says that will be only the beginning of the debate on greenhouse gas emissions.

Canadian Alliance Leader Stephen Harper said that after Tuesday's vote, which the majority Liberals are expected to carry with backing from the Bloc Qubcois and the New Democrats, the Alliance will continue to monitor the Kyoto implementation program.

"I put you on notice that this is only the beginning of the debate. We will fight this every step of the way," said Harper.

He said the Liberals will be held to account if either the costs spiral out of control, or if the government fails to meet the greenhouse gas reduction targets it takes on by ratifying the accord.

Harper said the government's implementation plan accounts for only about a third of the targeted reductions.

Harper's comments on Monday followed a Liberal move to invoke closure to end the debate over the Kyoto Protocol.

The Liberal government is making it a confidence vote, meaning all Liberal members of Parliament will be expected to vote in favour of the accord, or to be absent.

In the closure debate, Harper raised the possibility that the lack of a clear implementation plan could lead to huge cost overruns, like the gun control registry, and become "another in the long list of multibillion-dollar boondoggles."

Government may cap costs

Environment Minister David Anderson confirmed that the government is talking to big companies about capping their costs from Kyoto. If the government's forecasts about costs are wrong, it could expose taxpayers to huge liabilities.

Natural Resources Minister Herb Dhaliwal told CBC's Newsworld that the government was willing to subsidize industry if the cost of cutting greenhouse gases goes over $15 a tonne.

"We are very confident the costs are going to be between $5 and $10 a tonne," he said. But if costs go over $15, the government of the day will have to look at it, he said.

Some Kyoto opponents doubt the science the treaty is based on, or fear it won't address global warming because so many countries aren't covered.

Kyoto's biggest problem for business interests and the Canadian Alliance is that it might cost Canada too much to meet the reduction targets.

It's still not clear how the Kyoto Protocol will be implemented in Canada, and what mix of incentives and penalties the government will adopt.