Canada looking at six-nation climate change pact

Vancouver, Canada (GLOBE-Net) – Environment Minister Rona Ambrose has signalled that the federal government is seriously considering participating in the Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate, the six-nation pact involving the United States, Japan, China, India, South Korean and Australia. The core element of the agreement is that Greenhouse Gas Reduction targets should be voluntary and that more emphasis should be placed on developing technologies that reduce emissions.

It should be noted that the six nation pact or Asia Pacific Pact as it is commonly known is not an anti Kyoto pact – indeed 4 of the 6 members have ratified the Kyoto Protocol, a point often ignored by commentators. In our view it should be seen as a pragmatic response to the difficult realities of implementing the Protocol in a situation where the USA is not prepared to ratify. In this context we believe Canada should look closely and positively at participating in the Pact.

A formal decision with respect to Canada’s participation in the Partnership has not been taken, but Prime Minister Harper speaking in the House of Commons yesterday indicated that when his government develops a plan for the environment, “we intend to do things in full cooperation with the provinces, with the other countries of the world and with our trading partners.”

Also speaking in the House yesterday, Environment Minister Rona Ambrose stated the targets that were set by the previous Liberal government are unachievable and unrealistic.

“The difference between the Liberal Kyoto plan and our made in Canada solution is that the Liberals were planning on spending billions of dollars to reach targets that are unachievable and most of the money would be spent overseas. We refuse to do that. We will invest in Canadian solutions and in Canadian communities.”

Minister Ambrose also indicated that Canada would bring in regulations that to a greater degree mirror U.S. environmental rules. “They are beating us in every industry on pollution control, so we don’t want to just catch up. We want to compete. We want to outperform,” she said following meetings with U.S. Presidential adviser on environmental issues, James Connaughton, and Paula Dobriansky, the U.S. undersecretary of state for global affairs.

Intense efforts are underway to develop a Made in Canada plan to clean up the country’s air and water and to deliver tangible results in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Speaking at the Closing Plenary of GLOBE 2006, Minister Ambrose provided some insight on the proposed plan.

“No longer can we separate the issues of greenhouse gas reductions and pollution. Every solution we propose must address both challenges… to ensure that we protect the health of Canadians and fight global warming,” she stressed.

The Asia Pacific Pact calls for collaboration among members on clean coal, liquefied natural gas, methane, civilian nuclear power, geothermal power, rural energy systems, solar power, wind power and bio-energy. In the long-term, collaboration could involve hydrogen nanotechnologies, next-generation nuclear fission and fusion energy.

US President Bush has stated that this results-oriented partnership will allow participating nations “to develop and accelerate the deployment of cleaner, more efficient energy technologies to meet national pollution reduction, energy security, and climate change concerns in ways that reduce poverty and promote economic development.”

Already the US has forged technology partnerships with China for accelerated work on clean coal technologies, and discussions are underway in India for the sharing of US technology for the management of nuclear wastes.

More than 300 delegates from the six nations participating in the Asia-Pacific Partnership met last week in California for the first working session to develop ‘concrete steps’ to implement the agreement. Paula Dobriansky said the group was aiming for ‘tangible results over the next six months.

The focus on practical measures to stimulate technology development to deal with environmental problems and climate change related issues could be a positive first step in the ‘Made in Canada’ plan, commented Dr. John Wiebe, President of the GLOBE Foundation of Canada.

“Our research has shown that many factors are impeding growth of the environmental business sector in Canada, including scarcity of investment funding; inconsistent support from government agencies and programs; poor market intelligence; resistance to change by key players in the local and regional markets; and the lack of unified or coherent marketing of our technologies and problem-solving expertise in the international marketplace.”

If the new climate change plan is to succeed, he added, it must surely address these issues and help technology developers in Canada to bridge the ‘Valley of Death”, that very difficult stage between basic research and development and full commercialization of innovative technology.

“Canada has a great deal to offer the world in terms of practical solutions to environmental problems and sustainability solutions for a world that is becoming increasingly crowded into environmentally unfriendly urban areas. But we need leadership from the top and a supportive government if our private sector companies are to make their presence known on the world stage,” he added.

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