Canada Defends U.N. Climate Role, Overshoots Kyoto
BONN, Germany Canada defended its leadership of U.N. talks on fighting global warming on Monday despite admitting that Ottawa will not meet its own goals under the Kyoto Protocol.
Environment Minister Rona Ambrose, who is chairing the May 15-26 meetings in Bonn, has suggested that Kyoto should be softened for Canada in a second period from 2012 saying Ottawa had no chance of reaching its goals.
"The challenge we face in achieving the targets domestically has no relevance to our commitment to ... ensure that we are contributing to the international effort to address climate change," Ambrose said of Canada's 2006 U.N. climate presidency.
Delegates from 189 countries are attending the Bonn talks aimed at bolstering a global fight against climate change and engaging rich nations outside the Kyoto Protocol, including the United States and Australia as well as developing countries such as China and India.
"We have very onerous targets that were set for us, negotiated for us," Ambrose told a news conference of Canada's goals under Kyoto, which entered into force last year.
"We will have great difficulty in meeting those targets. We believe they are unachievable," she said of Canada's Kyoto goal of cutting emissions of heat-trapping gases from factories, power plants and cars by 6 percent below 1990 levels by 2008-12.
Canada's former government took on the U.N. climate presidency in Montreal in November and the new conservative government will hand over to Kenya in late 2006.
Environmentalists said Canada was not the right nation to try to persuade other nations to rein in fossil fuels.
Ambrose "must live up (to Canada's Kyoto goals) or stand down," said Jennifer Morgan, climate policy director of the WWF environmental group. "Vague statements about 'commitments to international efforts' are not serious."
German Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel said it was too early for Canada to give up on Kyoto targets for 2012.
"I'm not sure it's true (that Canada will overshoot its goals)," he said. "We are in 2006, there's 6 years left".
Ambrose said last week that Canada's emissions were 35 percent over 1990 levels. She said Canada needs a break as a major energy exporter -- the country's emissions are set to soar as Alberta's oil deposits are being exploited amid high prices.
Kyoto's goals are meant as a small first step to slow climate change that could spur droughts, floods, more powerful hurricanes and swamp low-lying Pacific islands by driving up sea levels in coming decades.
The first two days of the Bonn talks are a non-binding "dialogue" seeking common ground between about 40 industrial nations which have targets under Kyoto and all other countries.
"We need a common strategy and common targets and also common policies between the industrialised world and the developing world," Germany's Gabriel said.
"This must include countries such as the United States, Australia, India, China and others," he said.
The United States pulled out of Kyoto in 2001, saying it would cost jobs and wrongly excluded developing nations from a first round. Washington is instead making big investments in new technologies, ranging from hydrogen to solar power.
Developing nations want Kyoto backers to make deeper cuts before they agree to take part in any restraint.
Brazil said any effort to curb emissions by developing nations "can only be characterised as voluntary and, therefore, cannot be linked or associated to goals, targets or timeframes."