BANFF, Alta. (CP) - Canada felt the pinch Saturday between the European Union and United States over its controversial plan to be credited for the cleaner energy it exports.
On the first day of the G-8 environment ministers meeting, the EU flatly rejected Canada's bid for extra credits under the Kyoto climate change protocol. Margaret Wallstrom, the EU's environment commissioner, said previous negotiations for Kyoto were very favourable to Canada, and said it was not prepared to give more concessions.
"We will not accept that Canada now comes back saying 'We want even more,' " said Wallstrom.
"I think, unfortunately, that this road is closed.
"Canada will have to look at how to meet its targets domestically."
The EU, an economic and political union of 15 European nations, remains in favour of the Kyoto accord, which calls for large-scale reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.
Such heat-trapping emissions are believed to cause global warming and in turn drastic climate shifts, droughts and other environmental catastrophes.
While the Canadian government has said it intends to ratify Kyoto, opposition is mounting from provinces and business groups who say signing the deal will cost thousands of jobs and billions of dollars.
Ottawa has yet to release Kyoto cost projections and has committed to more discussions before signing anything.
It is believed that the cost - and the opposition - would decrease substantially if Canada got a break on emission reduction requirements because it ships so much cleaner oil, natural gas and electricity to the United States.
David Anderson, Canada's environment minister, has been pushing for such a deal. He says if the net result of Canada exporting cleaner fuel is that less-toxic emissions are released, then the country must get credit.
"Clearly we don't want to have a system of rules and mechanisms which restrict an opportunity for reducing greenhouse gases," said Anderson.
The problem for the EU is that Canada wants credit for clean-exports that go primarily to the United States, a country that won't ratify Kyoto.
"To count credits from trading with the United States, (which) has chosen to stand outside the protocol, would undermine the fundamentals and the principles of Kyoto," said Wallstrom.
"If the United States was a party to the protocol, that would be easy and that could be done through trading."
Instead of Kyoto, the United States promises to voluntarily reduce greenhouse gas emissions through business incentives like tax breaks.
Christie Whitman, head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, said Saturday that they'll evaluate Canada's plan.
"It's an important issue that needs to be discussed," said Whitman.
"To recognize that in fact the actions that have a positive impact on greenhouse gases should be encouraged."
Climate change and Kyoto are not front and centre at this meeting, one in a series of run-ups to the main G-8 leaders summit June 26-27 in Kananaskis, Alta. and to a critical United Nations meeting on sustainable development slated for August in Johannesburg, South Africa.
But Wallstrom said Kyoto can't be avoided.
"You cannot look away from the fact that climate change is an outstanding example of an unsustainable development," she said.
"The issue will have to be addressed in one way or the other."
Kyoto will be discussed informally for 45 minutes at a breakfast meet Sunday.
In a speech to open the conference earlier Saturday, Anderson said the private sector has a vital role to play to protect the environment and reduce the poverty that flows from it.
"There's a growing focus on trade, international financing, aid effectiveness and private sector investment as the engines of economic growth needed to address poverty reduction, which is now seen as the key to sustainable development," said Anderson.
The conference wraps up Sunday.
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