Canada fourth-worst climate sinner, study finds

Canada is near the bottom of the barrel in a study that ranks 56 countries based on their climate-change performances.

Canada is near the bottom of the barrel in astudy that ranked countries based on their climate-change performances.

The study, released Friday by environmental organizations Germanwatch and Climate Action Network Europe, compared the 56 countries who produce an estimated 90 per cent of the world's carbon dioxide emissions.

The countries were ranked based on the amount of emissions they produced over the past year, the amount of reductions they made to their emissions levels and thestrength of theirclimate-change policies.

The fivelowest ranked countries, starting with the worst,were:

  • Saudi Arabia
  • The United States
  • Australia
  • Canada
  • Luxembourg

The five best countries were:

  • Sweden
  • Germany
  • Iceland
  • Mexico
  • India

Canada, with its overall ranking of 53rd out of 56 countries, has fallenfrom last year, when it was ranked 51st.

"The [Canadian] government is still not making a serious effort to cut greenhouse gas pollution, and that leaves Canada at the back of the pack," Matthew Bramley of the Pembina Institute said in a news release.

The Pembina Institute, a Canadian environmental organization, contributed to the study.

"The gap between the government’s rhetoric and its action to date severely weakens Canada’s credibility here in Bali," Bramley said.

The study was released as officials from 190 countries were meeting in Bali, Indonesia to negotiate the framework for a new international climate change treaty that will replace the 1997 Kyoto Protocol when it expires in 2012.

Environment Minister John Baird is leading the Canadian delegation at the two-week conference and has said he will insist major emitters like the U.S., China and India are full participants in any new treaty that is drafted.

The U.S never signed Kyoto, while India and China were exempt from Kyoto's emissions reductions targets because of their fragile, developing economies.

'Hypocrisy in Canada's approach'

Bramley, in an interview from Bali, said Canada is making unrealistic demands on other countries, considering the poor job it's doing, according to the study.

Bramley said Canada could have boosted its ranking over last year by at least 20 positions, to the middle of the pack, if it had strengthened its government policies overseeing areas like industrial emissions.

"Minister Baird is taking some highly obstructive positions coming into these negotiations, particularly the kinds of demands that he's making of developing countries," Bramley said.

"When we see how poorly Canada is performing on climate change, it really points to a kind of hypocrisy in Canada's approach."

Baird and the Conservative government have pledged to reduce Canada's overall emissions by 20 per cent from 2006 levels by 2020,but environmentalists and opposition members of parliament haveattacked this plan because it fails to meet Canada's Kyoto obligations.

Under Kyoto, which was signed by Canada under a Liberal government in 1998, Canada is expected to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by six per cent from 1990 levels by 2012.

Kyoto was ratified by 141 countries, with each having slightly different targets to meet in an effort toreduceoverall global emissions by about five per cent from 1990 levels.

China won't agree to mandatory targets

At the conference in Bali on Friday, some environmentalists and government officials praisedChina for its efforts to become more environmentally sound.TheAsian countryranked 40th on the study'slist of 56 countries, up from 44th the year before.

Even though China is surpassing the U.S. as the world's top emitter of greenhouse gases, some officials say it has made serious efforts to enhance its energy efficiency and promote its renewable energy.

"I think China is taking climate change seriously and that's a good sign that there will be a good outcome here in Bali," said Artur Runge-Metzger, who heads the European Commission delegation at the conference.

On Friday, China said it is ready to negotiate a new treaty, but cannot sign on to any mandatory emissions targets, despite Canadian and American insistence that all emitters be fully onboard any new agreement.

"China is in the process of industrialization and there is a need for economic growth to meet the basic needs of the people and fight against poverty," Su Wei, a member of China's delegation in Bali, said Friday.

China has questioned the fairness of binding cuts when its per capita emissions are only about one-sixth of the U.S.A's.The country also argues that it has only been pumping pollutants into the atmosphere for a few decades, compared to the long industrial history of Western countries.

"I just wonder whether it's fair to ask developing countries like China to take on binding targets or mandatory targets," Su said.

"I think there is much more room for the United States to … change its lifestyle and consumption patterns in order to contribute to the protection of the global climate."

With files from the Associated Press and Canadian Press