Friday, April 20, 2007

Will Canadian Leadership Backpedal on Kyoto Protocol Commitments?

Sources: National Telegraph (Canada), Canadian Press

The 1997 Kyoto Protocol is an international treaty regarding the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. The Protocol gives legal power to the 1994 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The UNFCCC enjoys almost universal acceptance by United Nations member-states with 189 countries having ratified the Convention. The Kyoto Protocol has been ratified by 171 countries.

In North America, both Canada and Mexico have ratified both the Convention and the Protocol. The United States continues to resist ratifying the Protocol in spite of pressure from both its citizens and other industrialized nations that have committed to the decreases set forth in the treaty. However, as target dates approach for greenhouse gas reductions and member-states struggle with how to meet their commitments under the Protocol, officials of at least one ratifying nation—Canada--have expressed concerns about the potential effect of environmental commitments under the Protocol on the national economy.

Canada’s Environment Minister John Baird, relying on a study produced by economist Don Drummond, recently announced that complying with the obligations of the Kyoto Protocol would result in massive unemployment, decreased production, and increased energy prices, driving Canada into a recession.

Sponsors of legislation that has been proposed to implement the Protocol countered the study, asserting that it amounts to fear-mongering and fails to account for the positive economic effects of controlling greenhouse gases. Baird has invited the sponsors to prove these assertions by producing their own economic assessment of the legislation.

For discussion:

Must countries “choose” between healthy environments and a healthy economy? Is there another way? Might a healthy environment be “good” for the economy?

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