Canada finalizes ratification process for Kyoto, but battle is not over
OTTAWA (AFP) Dec 16, 2002
Canada's prime minister signed Monday the ratification document for Canada to comply with the Kyoto Protocol on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

But questions loom over how it will be implemented and at what cost.

Prime Minister Jean Chretien appeared to recognize that the battle over Kyoto implementation is far from over in brief remarks to reporters.

"We have 10 years to get (the provinces) on board now. We think we are not very far from an agreement (with the provinces) ... it might be a question of 10 weeks," he said.

This was a reference to Canada's constitutional problems on ratifying and promising to comply with Kyoto.

The federal government is responsible for ratifying international treaties, such as Kyoto. But the provincial governments are responsible for implement the regulations that will be required to comply with the federal government's pledge.

And that will not be an easy task.

Canada has 10 provincial and three territorial governments which will have to implement the necessary regulations. And most of those governments have objections to the federal government's Kyoto plans.

The most vocal opponent has been the energy-rich province of Alberta, which, it argues, has the most to lose in implementing what it sees as draconian cuts in greenhouse gas emissions.

Alberta Premier Ralph Klein has even threatened to challenge the ratification by Ottawa before the Supreme Court of Canada.

Klein and energy industry officials argue that investors and new businesses will take advantage of the fact that the United States has opted out of Kyoto by moving their investments south of the 49th parallel.

The Chretien government argues that this is nonsense.

While recognizing that some jobs may be lost, Ottawa claims that many more new jobs will also be created as the rest of the world seeks to purchase Canadian technology and know-how to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.

"Now that the protocol has been ratified, we will move forward to implement the climate change plan for Canada. Developed in consultation with all sectors and segments of the population, we know this plan will work," Chretien said in a statement.

But even before Chretien put pen to ink on the Kyoto document, the chief opposition spokesman on the environment Bob Mills, said his Canadian Alliance party would continue the fight against Kyoto.

"We will be watching this government at every budget to examine how much it wastes chasing this potential economic disaster," he said, claiming it had already "blown" more than 1.6 billion dollars (one billion US) on various climate change plans since 1998.

In other words, the next major challenge to Kyoto is likely to be in February when Finance Minister John Manley presents his budget.

But Monday belonged to Chretien as he signed the ratification document.

Canadian officials said Canada was the 98th country to ratify the protocol.

The anticipated ratification by Russia would bring the convention into force, said the officials, because Moscow's confirmation would mean Kyoto had been ratified by 50 percent of UN members and by countries responsible for 50 percent of the world's greenhouse gas emissions.

At a brief ceremony here, Chretien handed the ratification documents to Environment Minister David Anderson, telling him: "You take this to the United Nations and tell them we are a good citizen of the world."

Anderson is due to take the document for formal registration in New York on Tuesday.

Under Kyoto, Canada would be required to reduce by 2012 its greenhouse gas emissions to 94 percent of its 1990 levels.