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Ottawa considers joining rival to Kyoto Protocol


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This one is for SevenSeasJim (I figure you'll love it):

Ottawa considers joining rival to Kyoto Protocol


OTTAWA -- The Conservative government is considering joining the Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate, considered a more lax rival to the Kyoto Protocol.

Environment Minister Rona Ambrose said yesterday that she is taking a close look at the partnership of the six countries -- the United States, India, China, Australia, South Korea and Japan -- that together produce more than half of the world's greenhouse gases.

The so-called AP6 joined forces last July, and their deal has been criticized by environmentalists ever since for its lack of penalties and its financial commitments, which are considered too low.

Ms. Ambrose also said that Canada would aim to bring in regulations that mirror or beat U.S. environmental rules.

"They are beating us in every industry on pollution control, so we don't want to just catch up. We want to compete. We want to outperform," she said.

She said Ottawa will act quickly to reduce black diesel smoke.

Ms. Ambrose met yesterday morning in Ottawa with U.S. President George W. Bush's senior adviser on environmental issues, James Connaughton, and Paula Dobriansky, the U.S. undersecretary of state for global affairs.

The two senior U.S. officials said the President has asked them to discuss with their Canadian counterparts ways for the two countries to work together to clean up the continent's air and water.

"It's a very interesting group, and I think they're doing things that we're very interested in participating in further down the road," Ms. Ambrose said.

She added that the Americans did not ask her to join the AP6 during their two days of meetings, but she has been taking a close look at the partnership.

"I've been looking at the Asia-Pacific Partnership for a number of months now because the key principles around the Asia-Pacific Partnership are very much in line with where our government wants to go. The [APP] has a very unique opportunity to allow Canada to look at investments in cleaner technology here at home," she said.

Other advantages cited by the minister are the fact that it has successfully engaged countries like China that have signed Kyoto but have not set any targets.

Ms. Ambrose has said the Conservative government will stay in Kyoto but its targets to reduce emissions are unrealistic. The minister said she will announce next week how she will approach negotiations for the second phase of Kyoto, which begins in 2012.

In response to questions about Kyoto, Mr. Connaughton said the U.S. has had a host of environmental successes without being a part of Kyoto.

"The Kyoto discussion focuses on one thing: greenhouse gases. It ignores air pollution and it ignores energy security. These are all intertwined and the G8 leaders recognize that," he said.

Later in the day after Question Period, Ms. Ambrose appeared to play down her earlier comments about the AP6, saying her focus is on the government's "made-in-Canada" plan for the environment.

She cited by way of example her plan to cut back on emissions through regulations.

Canada and the United States passed regulations several years ago requiring all trucks to be nearly free of all emissions and for diesel fuel to be more environmentally friendly. Those regulations take effect this fall.

Ms. Ambrose signalled her support yesterday for those rules and indicated that her government will bring in further regulations to reduce emissions by Canada's industrial sector.

Mr. Connaughton said that it was the first time he has been invited to Canada and took the opportunity to tell Canadians that the United States is making great progress on persuading the private sector to reduce smog.

"We have much tighter standards now in America than we did in the '90s," he said, describing his country's improvements to air quality as "massive."

"I would note that what matters most is common sense and results, and it looks like [the Canadian] government has an abundance of both, and I think we can take some very significant action together. . . ."

Environmentalist Matthew Bramley of the Pembina Institute, which has compared the environmental performance of Canada and the United States, says matching U.S. regulations would definitely be an improvement.

"I think Canada could go quite some way in emulating some of the best practices of the United States," he said. However, he said, Canada shouldn't follow the United States in pulling out of Kyoto to join the Asia-Pacific Partnership.

David Bradley, the CEO of the Canadian Trucking Alliance, says that new trucks coming out this fall under the new regulations will emit air that is cleaner to breathe than regular air in a Canadian city.

"The environmental benefits are really quite astronomical," he said.

However, he warned that because the rules won't apply to trucks bought before the regulations take effect this fall, the government should offer incentives to companies to buy the new engines for older trucks. Otherwise, he said, the industry may load up on new polluting trucks just before the deadline.

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