Analysis: Canada goes into climate talks with little to offer

Tue Nov 23, 2010 1:39pm EST
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By David Ljunggren

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada will head into U.N. climate talks in Cancun next week with a part-time environment minister, little chance of meeting its own emissions targets and under broad attack for the development of its oil sands.

But the likely death of U.S. plans for a cap and trade system on carbon emissions after Republican gains in the House of Representatives may take pressure off Canada, which is both the largest supplier of energy to the United States and one of the world's biggest emitters of greenhouse gases per capita.

"I have no idea what they're going to say in Cancun," said John Bennett, executive director of Sierra Club Canada.

"They'll probably be sitting quiet, waiting to hear what the Americans say but probably being very happy (about) what happened in the States because they had no intention of ever meeting the targets that they said they were going to."

Arguing that unilateral action on curbing greenhouse gas emissions would hurt its competitive position, Canada says it will only act in tandem with Washington on issues like cap and trade.

The country regularly wins "Fossil of the day" awards from green groups at international meetings.

Canadian Environment Minister John Baird -- who also holds another senior government job -- has said nothing about his ambitions for the Cancun meeting, which will try to make progress on sealing a legally binding global deal to cut emissions.

Baird's office did not respond to a request for an interview about Canada's goals at the summit.   Continued...