Canada Close to Emissions Deal with Car Makers
OTTAWA Canada said Friday it was close to signing a voluntary pact with major automobile makers to cut emissions and made it clear it was rejecting calls to impose binding limits.
A representative for the manufacturers also expressed optimism the deal could be signed soon but said the two sides had not reached an agreement on every issue.
Ottawa says that by 2010 it wants car makers to reduce emissions by 25 percent from 1995 levels, but has resisted demands by environmentalists and opposition parties to impose curbs on major car manufacturers.
"We're now close to signing another voluntary agreement which will reduce (emissions) by more than 25 percent," Natural Resources Minister John Efford told Parliament.
He later told reporters the 2010 target date would stay the same but did not say when the deal would be signed.
Cutting car emissions is one way Canada hopes to meet its targets under the Kyoto protocol on climate change, which obliges Ottawa to cut output of greenhouse gases by 6 percent from 1990 levels by 2012.
But overall emissions are, in fact, about 20 percent above 1990 levels and senior government officials candidly admit the country has no chance of meeting its Kyoto goals.
Mark Nantais of the Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers' Association said the two sides were very close to a deal but one issue remained to be solved.
He would not give details. The Globe and Mail said the car makers -- General Motors , Ford and DaimlerChrysler -- were upset that Ottawa wanted them to take responsibility for changing consumer behavior so people bought more efficient cars.
Efford is negotiating with the car makers in tandem with Environment Minister Stephane Dion, who said last month he favored the idea of binding limits.
Dion's tougher stance was backed in Parliament by Bernard Bigras of the leftist Bloc Quebecois party, who said the attempt to agree voluntary limits was of no use.
"There is no doubt in my mind that the accomplishments will be made in the right way and not according to your way," Efford replied, saying the car companies had stuck to other voluntary deals signed with Ottawa.
The left-leaning New Democrats -- who are supporting the Liberal minority government in Parliament -- said Ottawa should have imitated California, which has told car makers it wants a 30 percent cut in emissions by 2016.
"We've got (California Governor) Arnold Schwarzenegger taking a stronger stand on cutting pollution than we have in the Canadian government. This is simply really unacceptable. It means we won't meet our emissions reductions targets," party leader Jack Layton told reporters.