Canada wants North America cap-and-trade system

Wed Nov 19, 2008 6:24pm EST
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By David Ljunggren

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada's Conservative government, shifting positions in the wake of Barack Obama's election as U.S. president, said on Wednesday that it would work to develop a North America-wide cap-and-trade system to limit emissions of greenhouse gases.

The Conservatives, who walked away from the Kyoto protocol on climate change after taking power in 2006, have until now focused on cutting the intensity of emissions rather than imposing outright curbs.

"We will work with the provincial governments and our partners to develop and implement a North America-wide cap-and-trade system for greenhouse gases," the government said as it unveiled plans for the new session of Parliament.

Obama favors much tougher greenhouse gas reduction targets than those set by the Conservatives, and says he will start a cap-and-trade system.

Environment Minister Jim Prentice told reporters that Canada's policy in part reflected Obama's election.

Green groups said the Conservatives' new positioning is largely academic as Canada would likely go along with whatever approach the new U.S. administration takes because the U.S. economy is around 10 times the size of Canada's.

"I think we will be forced into a North American-wide cap-and-trade system that will basically be dictated by Washington.... It's the only system that can work. We've got an integrated economy," said Stephen Hazell, executive director of Sierra Club Canada.

The Conservatives' approach to climate change to date has been much closer to that of President George W. Bush.   Continued...