Canada backs down on climate 'road map'
The Harper government and the Bush administration caved in to international pressure at the United Nations climate change summit Saturday, accepting the "Bali road map" toward a new comprehensive agreement to try to stop human activity from causing irreversible damage to the Earth's atmosphere and ecosystems. The framework was hailed by the UN's top climate-change official, Yvo de Boer, as an ambitious, transparent and flexible solution on the road to a comprehensive treaty in 2009, imposing deeper commitments on the richest nations in the world to slash their greenhouse gas emissions, as well as softer targets or commitments for developing countries to come into force after the end of the Kyoto Protocol's first commitment period in 2012. With the Harper government silent, several developing countries, along with the European Union members, protested, booed and resisted attempts by the US, which has not ratified the Kyoto Protocol, to impose what most of the countries felt were unfair obligations on the developing world in the fight against climate change. The pressure eventually forced US lead negotiator Paula Dobriansky to cave in and accept the consensus, allowing the Bali road map to be adopted. In a subsequent debate by Kyoto countries, Canadian Environment minister John Baird attempted to stop members of the protocol from declaring that developed countries should collectively strive to deepen their post-2012 emission targets in the range of a 25 to 40% reduction below 1990 levels by 2020. The Harper government has insisted that such a measure would be impossible for Canada to achieve in 12 years. But following a series of rebukes, criticism and pleas from 17 different countries, Baird told the conference he would "stand down," garnering a warm ovation from delegates. The concession also meant that he had failed to achieve his main objective of getting binding commitments for major emerging economies such as China and India to reduce their emissions in absolute terms. The Bali road map consists of a framework for emissions cuts, the transfer of clean technology to developing countries, reducing deforestation, and adaptation aid for developing countries vulnerable to droughts and rising sea levels.
(Globe and Mail, Calgary Herald 071215; Calgary Herald 071216)
Corporate Canada braces for new rules on emissions
Canadian corporations can expect growing pressure in the coming years to reduce greenhouse gas emissions beyond what the federal government has already pledged after Ottawa reluctantly accepted new targets at an international climate change conference in Bali. The Conservative government is now finalizing regulations for large industrial emitters and for the auto industry as part of its plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20% from 2006 levels by 2020. But before the ink is even dry on those rules, Canada will be facing pressure to cut further and faster – which will inevitably result in new demands on business, Christine Schuh, director of sustainable business practices for PricewaterhouseCoopers in Calgary, said yesterday. She said the two-week Bali conference, which ended Saturday, set an aggressive timetable to negotiate a global agreement on post-2012 climate change targets, and endorsed the International Panel on Climate Change view that dramatic action is needed to avert an environmental crisis. “Business can expect new demands to reduce greenhouse gas emissions … There are still a lot of people who thought they could negotiate their way out of the impending regime, but that is clearly not on.” Recent surveys of Canadian companies indicate relatively few have allocated budgets to cut greenhouse gas emissions, or had senior management focus on how the climate change issue will affect their business. Companies say they are waiting for clarity from the federal government in terms of the new climate change regulations. However, Julia Langer, of World Wildlife Federation, said it is unlikely the current government plan will be the last word. At Bali over the weekend, Canada grudgingly accepted broad targets to reduce emissions by 2020 by between 25% and 40% from 1990 levels. The agreement is part of an accord that covers all 38 of the countries that ratified the Kyoto Protocol.
(Globe and Mail 071217)