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 May 10, 2006
Greenhouse emissions way above target

 Ottawa, Canada - (By CTV.ca News Staff)

Canada's greenhouse gas emissions have risen to a level where practically every mode of transportation in the country would have to be grounded to reach Kyoto reduction targets promised by the previous Liberal government, says Environment Minister Rona Ambrose.

"Our government is being honest and transparent with Canadians about the mess that the Liberals left us with,'' Ambrose told Parliament on Wednesday. "Later this week we will release Canada's greenhouse gas inventory and it will show that Canada's (emission level) is now 35 percent higher than the Kyoto targets that the Liberals set.

"To put that into perspective ... that would mean that today we would have to take every train, plane and automobile off the streets of Canada. That's not realistic."

The federal report, obtained by CTV, shows the big polluters are automobiles, factories, coal-fired electrical plants and the Alberta oil patch. The report also shows that Japan is doing better than Canada; so is the United States, which refused to ratify Kyoto.

Under terms of the protocol, the previous Liberal government committed Canada to a six per cent cut in greenhouse emissions from 1990 levels by 2012. The Tories have long said Canada has no hope in meeting those targets. Further, they have criticized a program under Kyoto which allows countries that can't meet the targets to buy carbon credits.

Countries can do this by investing in emissions-cutting projects elsewhere. Ambrose says the Tories want to stop investing billions in other countries such as Russia, China and India, and put the money instead toward a "Made in Canada" solution to clean up the smog in Canadian cities.

She also indicated last month the government may join a U.S-led pact that lies outside the Kyoto framework to curb greenhouse gas emissions. The pact, called the Asia-Pacific Partnership, looks at developing technologies to cut emissions, but does not set caps on carbon emissions or set specific reduction targets.

Tory claim 'irresponsible'Critics, however, have labelled the Tory initiative just another public-relations exercise, and that the Conservatives are using the rise in greenhouse gas emissions to justify backing out of the Kyoto accord. "To throw up your hands and say we can't meet the targets is absolutely irresponsible and reprehensible," NDP finance critic Judy Wasylycia-Leis said Wednesday.

Environmentalist Elizabeth May says the Tories can meet Kyoto targets by imposing a moratorium on new Alberta oil sands projects."There is no need to exploit every last area of bitumen muck in the Athabasca region," said May, referring to the heavy, black viscous oil that occurs naturally in the area.

Natural Resources Minister Gary Lunn said, however, that it's unrealistic for the province and for Canada "not to continue to develop the oil sands." "There are more tax dollars that come from the oil sands than go to the province of Alberta," Lunn told CTV News. "These are the kind of things that fund the social programs that are so important to us."

Ambrose's comments come on the same day environmental groups called on the minister to resign as chair of UN negotiations on extending Kyoto. John Bennett of the Climate Action Network says since Canada has effectively abandoned the climate treaty, it should not take part in talks that open Monday in Bonn. "We are calling for Rona Ambrose to resign as president of the international negotiations,'' Bennett told a news conference Wednesday. "It's the honourable thing to do.

Under the UN system, the Canadian environment minister is chair of the talks, which are aimed toward negotiating a second phase of the treaty and to obtain commitments from developing countries which are currently exempt from targets.
"The negotiations that are going to happen in Bonn are very important," Dale Marshall of the David Suzuki Foundation told The Canadian Press.

"The countries that are there, that are still committed to their targets ... deserve a chair that is committed to the process. Ms. Ambrose is not." Ambrose gave no hint of resigning from the UN post when pressed by opposition MPs during question period in Commons.

With reports from CTV's Ottawa bureau chief Robert Fife and The Canadian Press