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Harper says Canadian climate targets depend on US goals

The Globe and Mail reports today that, “The Harper government is hedging on its target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 20 per cent (below 2006 levels) by 2020, saying the actual Canadian goal will depend the level of ambition adopted by the United States.”

(In reality, Harper has only been suggesting a 3 percent reduction below 1990 levels by 2020, well short of Canada’s commitment for 2012 made under the 1997 Kyoto Protocol.)

“In an interview Wednesday, Environment Minister Jim Prentice said the government’s overwhelming priority is harmonizing its regulatory approach with that of the U.S. – including the targets for emissions reduction.”

“Mr. Prentice acknowledged that there are considerable questions about how Washington will proceed on climate change, which means a delay in Ottawa’s plan to impose emission regulations on industries such as Alberta’s oil sands.”

Prentice said, “We are committed to harmonization with the United States on our climate change plans. By definition, that means we will want to see our targets and the American targets equated, we want to see our base years equated, and we condition our position (on targets) as requiring commensurate U.S. effort.”

(In late-November the Obama administration proposed an emission target “in the range of 17 percent” below 2005 levels by 2020. It has been estimated that this equates to about a 6 percent reduction below 1990 levels by 2020.)

The Copenhagen agreement set January 31 as the deadline for countries to submit their emission reduction targets. It had been speculated that Canada would not meet this deadline but the Globe and Mail reports it is, “a deadline that Canada will meet.”

“In the absence of cap-and-trade legislation, the Obama administration will likely use the Environmental Protection Agency to set limits on individual power plants, refineries and other industrial emitters. And Mr. Prentice said yesterday that Ottawa is prepared to pursue a similar regulatory approach. ‘We have indicated a willingness to proceed with a North American cap-and-trade system; we’ve also indicated a willingness to proceed by way of a harmonized regulatory system,’ he said.”

David Jacobson, the US ambassador to Canada, recently stated that he also sees Canada and the United States having harmonized policies on energy and the environment.

See also:
NEWS: Canada’s climate policies, free trade and deep integration, http://canadians.org/campaignblog/?p=2632.

VIEW: Deep integration on climate policies a threat to climate justice worldwide, http://canadians.org/campaignblog/?p=2690.