Canada set to miss modest emissions goals: watchdog

Tue May 8, 2012 1:18pm EDT
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By David Ljunggren

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada is acting too slowly to combat climate change and has little chance of achieving its modest 2020 target for cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, Parliament's environmental watchdog said on Tuesday.

The report by Environment Commissioner Scott Vaughan is awkward for the right-of-center Conservative government, which green activists say is more interested in industrial development than in protecting the environment.

The government, which pulled Canada out of the Kyoto Protocol on climate change last year, is promising to reduce emissions by 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020.

Vaughan said the government is not moving quickly enough to introduce the necessary regulations and noted that an official forecast in July 2011 showed emissions in 2020 would in fact be 7.4 percent above the 2005 level.

"Although the federal government has begun to lower greenhouse gas emissions, right now the reductions are not happening fast enough to meet the 2020 target," he wrote.

Vaughan said the federal environment ministry has no plan to show how various departments and agencies would cooperate and has not provided estimates of how various sectors of the economy should cut emissions.

In response to Vaughan's report, Environment Minister Peter Kent said the government was making "significant progress" on meeting its 2020 target.

Kent, like other ministers, says he will not contemplate actions that might cut jobs or hurt the economy.   Continued...

Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver speaks at a news conference at the Automatic Coating Limited plant in Toronto April 17, 2012. REUTERS/Mark Blinch