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Canada’s differing climate change goals in Copenhagen

The Globe and Mail reports this morning that, “Canada’s deep divisions over climate change will be on display in Copenhagen, as Ontario and Quebec intend to lobby Ottawa from the summit’s sidelines to accept more ambitious emission targets.”

“In advance of the climate summit that begins Monday in the Danish capital, the Harper government has committed to reducing Canada’s greenhouse-gas emissions by 20 percent from 2006 levels by 2020, but has not laid out its policies for achieving that goal.”

“Ottawa’s target would lower emissions to 3 percent below 1990 levels (by 2020) – well short of the commitment for 2012 made by the previous Liberal government under the 1997 Kyoto Protocol.”

“Quebec has recently committed to cut emissions by 20 percent below 1990 levels by 2020…”

“Ontario has set a target of 15 percent below 1990 levels…”

“Alberta, in contrast, would see emissions rise to 58 percent above 1990 levels by 2020.”

“’Canada’s position needs to be much more ambitious,’ Ontario Environment Minister John Gerretsen said in an interview Thursday. The Ontario minister said there are concerns that Ottawa will impose an unfair burden on his province and Quebec in reducing emissions while giving the oil-sands sector essentially a free pass.”

“Federal Environment Minister Jim Prentice yesterday defended the government’s stand, saying it is comparable to targets proposed by the United States.”

Bloomberg reported on November 25 that, “The White House’s (newly) proposed emissions cut marks the first time the U.S. has offered a 2020 target in the international negotiations. The reduction will be ‘in the range of 17 percent’, Carol Browner, Obama’s top adviser on energy and the environment, said today.  The proposal is in line with pending legislation in the House and the Senate. A bill passed by the House in June calls for a 17 percent reduction (from 2005 levels) while a measure proposed in the Senate calls for a cut of 20 percent.”

The Guardian UK reports that this new U.S. offer to cut emissions by 17 percent on 2005 figures equates to 6 percent at 1990 levels.

Additionally, the Canwest News Service reports today that, “Appearing at a parliamentary committee, Environment Minister Jim Prentice said the government’s (climate change) strategy (will now) call for a national cap-and-trade system with ‘absolute caps’ to put a price on carbon, under a harmonized structure with the United States. The system would require companies to meet targets either by reducing their own emissions or buying certified credits from other companies that reduce emissions at a price determined by the market.”

“Prentice said the government’s climate change policies previously had called for ‘intensity targets’ for pollution from industrial facilities that require reductions per unit of production and would allow businesses to meet targets while their emissions were (in fact) increasing.”

The Globe and Mail article is at

The Canwest News Service story is at

The Bloomberg report is at

The Guardian UK article is at

The Council of Canadians will be on the ground in Copenhagen, providing updates on negotiations inside the conference and taking part in numerous events and climate justice movement activities happening outside. To read more about our climate justice campaign – and how you can participate – please go to