Canada's bid to cut greenhouse gases flawed: probe

Thu Feb 5, 2009 5:08pm EST
 
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By David Ljunggren

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Two of Canada's major strategies for cutting emissions of greenhouse gases have major flaws and cannot achieve the promised results, the country's environmental watchdog said on Thursday.

The report by Environment Commissioner Scott Vaughan promises to be a fresh headache for Canada's minority Conservative government, which critics say is only paying lip service to green causes.

"The government cannot demonstrate that the money it is spending on some important environmental programs is making a difference," Vaughan said at a news conference.

Soon after winning power in early 2006, the Conservatives walked away from the Kyoto Protocol on climate change, saying the cuts it required would harm the economy.

The Environment Department has since produced a less stringent plan that it says will reduce emissions by 50 percent from 2007 levels by 2050. One element of the plan is a C$1.5 billion ($1.2 billion) clean air trust fund that is designed to cut emissions by 16 megatons a year from 2008 to 2012.

"The department conducted almost no analysis to support that figure ... the little analysis it did undertake is based on flawed assumptions," Vaughan wrote in his report.

Ottawa handed over the C$1.5 billion to Canada's 10 provinces and three territories but did not require them to spend it on cutting emissions and did not oblige them to report the results of the actions they took.

"The nature of the trust fund makes it very unlikely that the department can report real, measurable and justifiable results," Vaughan said.   Continued...

 
<p>Smoke rises from a chemical company's stacks in Hamilton, approximately 50 km (31 miles) south of Toronto in this February 1, 2007 file photo. Two of Canada's major strategies for cutting emissions of greenhouse gases have major flaws and cannot achieve the promised results, the country's environmental watchdog said on Thursday. REUTERS/J.P. Moczulski</p>