BANFF, Alta. (CP) - Canada hit a sour note on the last day of the G-8 environment ministers meeting as the powerful German delegation joined the criticism of Ottawa's plan to swap clean energy credits for Kyoto responsibilities.
German Environment Minister Jurgen Trittin said the Canadian plan was not well conceived. "This is not an idea that has been thought to its real final consequences," he said Sunday after a morning meeting on climate control and greenhouse gas reductions.
Federal Environment Minister David Anderson has been lobbying for a break in how much greenhouse gas Canada has to reduce under the Kyoto protocol because it is already helping the environment by exporting cleaner natural gas and electricity to the United States.
But Trittin said Canada could also lose under such a scheme. He said expensive technology imported from Germany to drastically cut Canadian emissions would result in credits going back to Europe.
"That would be the consequence of the Canadian proposal - they pay for other forms of energy and the reduction under the Kyoto protocol is counted to Germany."
Germany's criticism comes after strong words from the head of the European Union delegation, who said earlier that Canada's clean-fuel credit would not be allowed because it significantly changes the Kyoto accord.
The EU, an economic and political union of 15 European nations, remains in favour of Kyoto, which calls for large-scale reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from 40 industrialized countries by 2012.
Such heat-trapping emissions are believed to cause global warming and the drastic climate shifts, droughts and other environmental catastrophes.
Of all the G-8 countries attending the meeting in this Rocky Mountain resort town, only the United States has said that it will not ratify Kyoto.
While Prime Minister Jean Chretien's government has said it will 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.
Anderson, meanwhile, said he wanted "a better explanation from the critics of clean energy exports as to why they oppose measures that reduce the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere."
As the ministers wrapped up the two-day meeting, about 100 protesters - 44 of whom were dressed as spotted owls - marched up the hill in driving sleet and snow toward the ministers' hotel from downtown Banff. They were protesting Canada's inaction on saving the near-extinct owl and its forest habitat.
They also denounced the failure of Canada and the U.S. to ratify Kyoto.
When the wet, cold demonstrators reached the hotel, the owls huddled for warmth, then collapsed in a mock death.
"I care about the endangered species in Canada and the government isn't doing enough to protect those endangered species," said Mikhail Miller, an "owl" wrapped in a brown sheet and a headpiece with white-circle eyes a big yellow beak.
The Calgary chapter of the Raging Grannies - a seniors group famous for its gaudy costumes and musical dissent - sang songs about greenhouse gases and their "harmful cosmic rays."
The protest was organized by the eco-activist group Greenpeace Canada. That group made headlines Thursday, when some of its members climbed onto the roof of Ralph Klein's Calgary home to install solar panels in protest of the Alberta premier's opposition to Kyoto.
Police presence at Sunday's demonstration was light - four Mounties on bicycles, one standing nearby and an observation van keeping pace with the parade - compared with the conspicuously heavy policing that characterized the conference.
RCMP Sgt. Mike O'Rielly said police video taped the demonstration in case it became unruly.
"You record for a variety of reasons - more than anything just so that you have an accurate record of what's occurred," said O'Rielly, who walked with the activists to the hotel.
Police used this meeting to help train for the G-8 leaders summit June 26-27 in Kananaskis, Alta.
Mounties on street corners, Mounties with dogs and Mounties on bikes patrolled the town and hotel throughout the weekend.
There was no violence, unlike the G-20 finance ministers meeting last November in Ottawa. Protest crowds there peaked at 2,000 and 50 were arrested during violent demonstrations that saw police fire small amounts of tear gas and rubber bullets.
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