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Canadian government acknowledges the country will not meet its Kyoto Protocol commitment

May 1, 2007

Canadian government acknowledges the country will not meet its Kyoto Protocol commitment

The Kyoto treaty committed Canada to reducing emissions by 6% from 1990 levels by the period 2008-2012 but emissions are currently about 30% above the 1990 figure. The Canadian government's new target is to cut emissions by 20% between now and 2020, and the government believes the strategy may reduce Canada's economic growth by 0.5% but that striving to meet the Kyoto target would be ruinous.

Announcing the strategy, Canada's environment minister, Mr John Baird, blamed previous governments for failing to cut emissions. "The plan we are presenting today does meet Kyoto, if today was 1997," he said. "But the reality is that I didn't decide to do nothing in 1997. I can't take responsibility for 10 lost years, but I can fully, and our government is prepared to fully, accept our responsibilities today."

The Canadian strategy has emerged at a time when the international community is struggling to find a new path to reducing emissions when the current Kyoto targets expire in 2012. It is also grappling with the knowledge that the treaty has been far less effective than was envisaged by its architects - and that it contains no effective mechanism for compelling member countries to meet their commitments.

With a number of major governments publicly opposed to binding international targets, and with voluntary agreements such as the Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate springing into existence, Canada's decision will make the development of a meaningful new global deal even more difficult.

For further information, please visit the BBC News.

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