06 March 2007

A Gargantuan Task

Oil ceos launch green task force

Canada's top corporate executives have launched a national task force on climate change, looking at ways to cut greenhouse gas emissions and promote cleaner technology. As the federal government prepares to release its emissions reduction blueprint, the Canadian Council on Chief Executives says it will seek "responsible solutions" to the country's climate change challenge. "We want to contribute to debate about options and costs that we think up until now has been paper thin," Thomas d'Aquino, the council's ceo said Monday. "We're going to have reduce greenhouse gas emissions on average of 30% a year - each year - from 2008 to 2012. When you ask people to try to translate what that means, very, very few people have really thought it through." The council has long argued the tough emissions reduction targets under the Kyoto Protocol would result in an economic slowdown and penalize companies that take the lead in developing new technologies. Canada has committed to reducing its overall greenhouse gas emissions by 6% below 1990 levels, but the Conservative government has said those targets are unreachable. Environment Minister John Baird is expected to introduce his own set of short-term regulations and targets in the coming weeks and months.

The 25-member task force will be co-chaired by d'Aquino, and Alcan ceo Richard Evans and Rick George, ceo of Suncor Energy. Members of the task force include the top executives some of Canada's largest oil and gas producers, including Petro-Canada's Ron Brenneman, Canadian Oil Sand's Marcel Coutu, Shell Canada's Clive Mather, Imperial Oil's Tim Hearn, Pengrowth Energy Trust's Jim Kinnear and Guy Turcotte, chairman of Western Oil Sands. Other participating ceos include Ron Mannix of Coril Holdings, CP's Fred Green, Steve Snyder of TransAlta and Mike Wilson of Agrium. It will also assisted by a group of experts in environmental sustainability. Environmental groups remained skeptical, however, pointing out that a third of the executives involved come from the fossil fuel industry and that the council has a history of opposition to government action against greenhouse emissions. "This is a long-overdue initiative for industry to finally take seriously the economic and environmental threats posed by climate change," said Stephen Hazell, executive director of Sierra Club of Canada. "Industry must accept hard caps, not fake intensity-based caps, which would allow emissions to rise."
(Calgary Herald, National Post 070306)

Long overdue, but definitely a positive step.

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