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PORT OF SPAIN (Reuters) - Canada may make minor adjustments to its targets for cutting greenhouse gas emissions before climate talks in Copenhagen next month, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said on Sunday.
Harper told reporters on the sidelines of a Commonwealth summit in Trinidad and Tobago his country believed it was essential to keep Canadian targets in line with those of its neighbor, the United States, because of the close integration of their two economies.
As December 7-18 U.N. climate talks in the Danish capital approach, major industrialized powers like the United States and Canada are coming under increasing pressure to commit to substantive cuts in their greenhouse gas emissions.
Canada's Conservative government walked away from the existing Kyoto climate change pact, saying it could harm the economy, and it has been often criticized for dragging its feet on global warming.
At the Commonwealth summit Harper told reporters, "Canada's position, since we took office, has been clear. We've said we're at a roughly 20 percent reduction going forward in the first commitment period to 2020.
"I notice the United States has come out with a target of 17 percent below 2005 levels from now to 2020 -- that's virtually identical to Canada's own target, so we may make some minor adjustments but that will essentially be our target."
Harper has said he will attend next month's Copenhagen talks, along with U.S. President Barack Obama and close to 90 other heads of state and government.
The deal the United Nations is aiming for in Copenhagen, which it hopes to turn into a full legally binding treaty in 2010, would cover tougher emissions targets, climate financing for poorer nations and transfer of clean-energy technology.
Ottawa says its plans to cut greenhouse gases by 20 percent by 2020 from 2006 levels are actually slightly tougher than Obama's vow to reduce emissions by roughly 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020.
The Canadian House of Commons recently adopted a nonbinding motion calling on Canada to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent from 1990 levels. The government says this kind of reduction would wreck the economy.
On a per capita basis, Canada is one of the most polluting countries in the world, emitting 19.8 tonnes of greenhouse gases per person annually, second only to the United States.
Reporting by Pascal Fletcher; Editing by Bill Trott