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Canada Must Quit as Chair of Kyoto Process - Greens

Published by MAC on 2006-05-11

Canada Must Quit as Chair of Kyoto Process - Greens

PlanetArk, CANADA

11th May 2006

OTTAWA - Green groups across Canada united on Wednesday to demand Environment Minister Rona Ambrose step down as chairwoman of international talks looking into ways to strengthen the Kyoto protocol on climate change.

Ambrose, who says Canada has no chance of meeting its Kyoto emissions targets, is due to chair a meeting in Bonn next week that will group signatories to Kyoto as well as nations that have not made commitments to cut the greenhouse gases that are seen as the cause global warming.

The Climate Action Network -- a collection of about 100 environmental and other activist groups -- said Ambrose's clear disdain for Kyoto could help wreck the talks.

"If you're in negotiations to cut emissions and doing nothing but bad-mouth (Kyoto) ... you'll do immense damage to the international process," said John Bennett of the Sierra Club, who also heads the network.

Ambrose is a member of the new minority Conservative government, which won the Jan. 23 election. The party's power base -- as is Ambrose's electoral district -- is in the energy-rich western province of Alberta, where sentiment is decidedly anti-Kyoto. Under Kyoto, Canada is committed to cutting its emissions to 6 percent below 1990 levels by 2008-12. The latest data show emissions are running 24.4 percent above 1990 levels and these will rise as the oil sands are further developed in Alberta.

Last month, Ambrose said Canada backed a breakaway group of six nations that favors a voluntary approach to cutting emissions. The group includes the United Sates, which abandoned Kyoto in 2001 on the grounds it would cause economic damage.

"Her remarks have made it clear that the Canadian government has abandoned Kyoto," Bennett told a news conference. "This government was afraid of the oil industry and decided to back off."

Last month, Ottawa shut down 15 research programs related to Kyoto. A spokesman for Ambrose said the minister would react to the network's comments later on Wednesday.

Ambrose says the government is working on a made-in-Canada plan to tackle climate change and will not try to meet its Kyoto target by buying emissions credits abroad.

"It's fascinating to see how much of a page (Prime Minister) Stephen Harper has taken from President Bush, who quit Kyoto while promising something better instead," said Stephen Guilbeault of Greenpeace Canada.

In a separate move designed to put pressure on Harper, the opposition Bloc Quebecois said it would introduce a motion in Parliament demanding the Conservatives produce a plan by Oct. 15 this year on how to meet Canada's Kyoto targets. Legislators are due to vote on the non-binding motion next Tuesday and it looks set to pass, since all three opposition parties will vote in favor.

"If the government refuses to back this motion ... it is clear that Canada will be undermining the Kyoto treaty in Bonn rather than promoting it," said the Bloc's Bernard Bigras.

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