Canada will not ratify Kyoto without clarification
MADRID - Canada will not ratify the Kyoto protocol on global warming until aspects of the treaty are clarified, Prime Minister Jean Chretien said this week.
A Canadian decision against ratification would be a severe blow for the treaty, already weakened by last year\'s U.S. withdrawal.
In talks with European Union leaders in Spain this week, Chretien put forcefully Canada\'s case that it should get credits under the treaty for clean energy exports to the United States.
\"I explained to my colleagues today very clearly that it\'s a unique situation. We\'re next to the United States and we are the only one in that position to export non-polluting energy to a non-signing country that pollutes a lot. This should be recognised,\" he told a news conference in Madrid with Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar.
\"We are not in a position to ratify it (Kyoto) until some of these elements are clarified,\" Chretien said.
The EU, a strong supporter of the Kyoto agreement, has previously opposed the Canadian call for credits for clean energy exports. Chretien earlier held talks in Toledo with Aznar, whose country is current president of the 15-nation EU, and European Commission President Romano Prodi.
\"I tried to be as forceful as I could. They have not responded clearly but the president said let\'s think about it and see if something can be done,\" he said.
It was not clear if he was referring to Prodi or to Aznar, whose title in Spanish is president.
Aznar said only that the EU leaders had listened to Chretien\'s plea, which he called \"very expressive\".
NEGOTIATIONS NOT OVER
The EU has worked to save the 1997 Kyoto agreement from collapse after the United States withdrew. The EU aims to ratify Kyoto in the next two months.
EU leaders felt negotiations on Kyoto were over, Chretien said. \"But ... we had the impression it was not over,\" he said.
Canada\'s position remained that it would like to be able to sign Kyoto \"and if we were to sign it would put pressure on the Americans to move in that direction too,\" he said.
The Canadian government initially said it aimed to ratify the Kyoto protocol this year, but watered down its commitment to curbing emissions of greenhouse gases after the United States abandoned the treaty and powerful domestic energy producers raised their voices in opposition.
Ottawa persuaded its partners last year to change the Kyoto agreement to give Canada credits for carbon dioxide absorbed by forests.
Faced with Canada\'s demand for more credits for clean energy exports to the United States, Canadian critics wonder if the Liberal government is deliberately pushing an idea it knows is unacceptable as a way of effectively abandoning the treaty.
New doubt was cast on Canada\'s commitment to the Kyoto protocol with the release on Tuesday of a letter from Industry Minister Allan Rock saying Ottawa should develop its own plan.
In any case, Canada has little chance of fulfilling its Kyoto commitment to cut emissions of the greenhouse gases blamed for global warming by six percent from 1990 levels by 2010. Latest estimates show the country\'s emissions actually grew by 20 percent from 1990 to 2000.
REUTERS NEWS SERVICE
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