Betty Hinton, MP Masthead
Member of Parliament for Kamloops Thompson Cariboo
[press releases]
Canada Coat of Arms


January 26, 2004

Anyone who thinks the Kyoto Accord still matters hasn’t checked out the facts. The treaty is dying, which is exactly the fate it deserves. And no matter what he says, the new Prime Minister knows it too.

Consider some of the recent Kyoto news. The European Union, Kyoto’s biggest supporter, admitted in December that 13 of 15 European countries were failing to meet their targets. Canada has promised to make massive cuts that dwarf Europe’s much smaller Kyoto commitments. If Europe can’t meet their goals, we won’t even come close.
Then there’s the Russian situation. Without Russia’s participation the carbon credit shell game can’t be played. President Putin has signalled that economic growth is his top priority. He won’t hesitate to pull the plug on Kyoto if he believes the treaty will constrain Russia’s booming economy.

So Kyoto is in serious trouble internationally while here in Canada there is a credibility gap. Canada never had a real Kyoto plan. The Environment Minister produced a “Climate Change Plan for Canada” in 2002, but it is vague. It’s also incomplete: at its best-case scenario, the “plan” would reduce Canada’s emissions by 180 megatonnes, a full 60 megatonnes short of our committed Kyoto target.

Critics ridiculed this non-plan, of course, but Environment Minister David Anderson didn’t blink. For almost a year, he defended the indefensible at every opportunity
His job got a bit tougher in December when the Prime Minister admitted that the “plan” is unclear and lacks details. Thanks for noticing, Prime Minister.

The P.M. could have easily started over by appointing someone else, but he didn’t. What does that say? The Prime Minister doesn’t want a Kyoto plan. He doesn’t think we’re going to need one. He’s read the writing on the wall, and he’s going to let Kyoto die quietly.

The Liberals have been too preoccupied to notice, but Canadians are worried about the environment. Canadians want an end to smog that endangers young lungs and keeps elderly people confined to their homes. They want clean power, green jobs, and world-leading environmental technology, preferably, Made in Canada. And they want to preserve our spectacular natural heritage.

In the last budget the Chretien government set aside over $2 billion to meet our Kyoto targets. Apparently Canada has money for investment in the environment. The Conservative Party critic Bob Mills has some ideas about how it should be spent. First, we reduce smog in cities with a Canadian Clean Air Act. The Kyoto accord mainly targets carbon dioxide, a factor in global warming but it’s other chemicals – sulphur dioxide, nitrous oxide, particulate matter and ground-level ozone – that makes our air thick enough to chew. If we go after those pollutants directly, with market mechanisms and tax incentives we can dramatically improve Canada’s air quality.

If we start now, we can also make this country a leader in environmental innovation. We have the raw materials and expertise to be a successful market player, but we’re not even close to the cutting edge. Canadian researchers need tax incentives to complete their crucial work. They deserve partnership and encouragement from government, not red tape. They need regulations that create a market for green products.

Canadians like to think of ourselves as environmental leaders but we emit more sulphur dioxide and carbon dioxide per capita than any other western country, and we’re producing far too much hazardous waste.

Canadians want clean air, clean soil and clean water. If we make the right choices, we can have all three.


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