April 12, 2008 / 2:18 AM / 10 years ago

UK minister won't "preach" on Canada's emissions

CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) - Britain’s energy minister said on Thursday he will work with Canadian officials on technology for fighting global warming, and steered clear of criticizing Canada’s less-ambitious targets for cutting emissions.

Unlike the United Kingdom, the governments of Canada and Alberta, the country’s biggest energy producer, have resisted moving forward with mandating tough absolute caps on emissions to foster an active carbon trading market.

“I‘m not here to preach. I‘m here to listen and learn, as well as say what has been the British experience,” Energy Minister Malcolm Wicks told reporters after speaking to a business audience in Calgary, Alberta.

“But the world needs to take seriously global warming -- I think the science is absolutely clear.”

In Alberta, the government of Premier Ed Stelmach has set a target to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 14 percent from 2005 levels by the middle of the century.

However, with the rapid development of the province’s massive oil sands resource -- the largest oil deposits outside the Middle East -- emissions are expected to rise for more than a decade before cuts take hold.

Britain’s target is to reduce emissions 60 percent from 1990 levels by 2050, and possibly as much as 80 percent if the climate appears to be changing at a more drastic pace that currently forecast, Wicks said.

The Canadian and Alberta governments are counting on the development of carbon capture and storage technology for much of their expected reductions in emissions. The technology is still viewed as being in its infancy, however.

On Wednesday, Wicks toured northern Alberta’s oil sands region, where much of Canada’s focus on carbon capture is centered.

The two countries have started preliminary discussions about cooperating on development, he said.

“Bilaterally and more internationally it just make sense for us to swap notes, look at the technologies and actually look at the regulatory framework,” Wicks said.

Reporting by Jeffrey Jones; Editing by Renato Andrade

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