OTTAWA - Canada is facing international pressure to ratify the Kyoto Protocol on climate change but Cabinet won't be pushed to adopt a greenhouse gas reduction plan that is unrealistic, says Herb Dhaliwal, the Minister of Natural Resources.
But Mr. Dhaliwal said Canada should come to a decision on whether to ratify Kyoto this year.
His comments echo those of Jean Chrétien. In a letter to the Canadian Manufacturer's Association, reported in Thursday's National Post, the Prime Minister said signing Kyoto will not happen until a working plan is in place. "Our goal is to make a ratification decision in 2002." Previously, Mr. Chrétien said flatly Canada would sign this year. It was even expected Canada would ink the deal at the G7 summit in June, which is being held in Kananaskis, Alta.
"[The implementation plan] would have to be something that is realistic ... there is no use signing an agreement when we can't realistically meet the targets and it has to be doable," said Mr. Dhaliwal, adding an implementation plan and an economic analysis will be key to Cabinet's decision.
He said Canada is being pressured by European signatories to sign. John Prescott, the U.K.'s Deputy Prime Minister, recently met with key Cabinet ministers.
"When I met [Mr. Prescott] he urged us to sign on. Otherwise, he felt the whole thing could unravel because you need 55 countries representing 55% of the source of greenhouse gas emissions," Mr. Dhaliwal said.
"Of course [the U.K.'s] challenge is less [than Canada's] because they have had huge benefits from shutting down their coal plants anyway."
The U.S., which produces 25% of the world's greenhouse gases, has rejected the Kyoto Protocol and initiated its own policy that is far less demanding than Kyoto.
Mr. Dhaliwal said he remains hopeful the U.S. will eventually converge with the Kyoto countries to combat climate change.
Opponents of Kyoto say Washington's withdrawal will make Canadian industry uncompetitive with U.S. industry because businesses here will have to carry the costs of cutting emissions.
In coming to a decision, Canada has to take into account the impact of the American rejection of the treaty, Mr. Dhaliwal said.
David Anderson, the federal Environment Minister, plans to present the cost analysis and implementation plan to a joint federal-provincial ministerial meeting in mid-May in Charlottetown.
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