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Lethbridge, AB
T1K 7H7
Phone: (403) 328-1804
Sunday, November 07, 2004
The Editor
The Lethbridge Herald
P.O. Box 670
AB, T1J 3Z7

Canada’s Kyoto bluff 

I’ve been wondering when the Herald would print an article on Russia and the Kyoto Protocol. Finally, the back pages announced that Russia has passed legislation to ratify it. (“Putin signs Kyoto pact for Russia”, 04/11/06, C4). Russian ratification completes the conditions needed to put Kyoto into effect. 

This is a disquieting development for Canada. We are now the only nation in the western hemisphere with a greenhouse gas reduction commitment under Kyoto. Starting in 2008 and carrying on to 2012, our averaged greenhouse gas emissions are to be 6% below 1990 levels. In practical terms this means our emissions are to be reduced on order of 25% to 30% totaling about one billion tonnes over the five year period starting just three years from now.  

What was our former Prime Minister was thinking when he ratified Kyoto.  Was he appealing to polls and voters? Was he showing Canada can outshine the US on climate change?  Did he combine these considerations with a ratification bluff, in secreted expectation Russia would back out of Kyoto? Now, Russia expects to be able to sell some 2 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide emission credits. (International Herald Tribune, 04/11/06). Analysis suggests Canada could be a major buyer. Russia would like to see our hand.  

Canada is holding some aces.  They will not be played until a full commitment to greenhouse gas management is established world wide. That commitment will only follow from wide confidence that climate change from the greenhouse gases humans generate is real and harmful.

Canada can not reduce emissions significantly over the time period set for Kyoto compliance. Canada can barely afford large payments for emission credits. Few Canadians seem cognizant of the position our government has willfully wandered into. Some are tolerant. Others are even supportive. Will Canada’s Kyoto partners be charitable and relax the requirements from which they might profit? 

I’m old fashioned. I think commitments should be made only after determining why and how they should be met. Then, they should be kept.  I should be worried by Canada’s involvement with Kyoto and I am. Canada has unwisely committed to an impossible task. Our stature will suffer from imminent failure. 

Yours truly,


Duane Pendergast


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