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Canada clarifies position on clean air credits

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Clean energy shipped to the US should count toward Canada’s commitment to Kyoto protocol.

Canada has outlined its proposal for swapping clean air credits to help meet its responsibilities under the Kyoto protocol at a United Nations-sponsored workshop on climate change in Whistler this week.

"We have tabled here what it is that Canada is seeking and made that clear to our partners," said Sue Kirby, associate assistant deputy minister of climate change at Natural Resources Canada.

No decisions were made at the two-day meeting. It was an opportunity for delegates from more than 30 countries to get together to discuss Canada’s idea and other technical issues.

Canada wants credit for shipping clean energy to the US, which is no longer a signatory to the Kyoto protocol.

The protocol calls for steep reductions in greenhouse gas emissions by 2010 from 40 industrialized nations.

Such heat-trapping emissions are believed to cause global warming, climate shifts, droughts and other environmental disasters.

Kirby said Canada is proposing to get credit for up to 70 mega tonnes of carbon dioxide a year. That is approximately one-third of the annual reduction needed to meet the Kyoto protocol.

The concern, said Kirby, is that, "Canada’s emissions inventory is in fact being charged, if you will, for those emissions and we were not getting the benefit associated with the reduction of the emissions that the globe was experiencing because of our export of cleaner energy."

Ratifying the Kyoto protocol is not going smoothly in Canada.

This week Natural Resources Minister Herb Dhaliwal said that while he was committed to moving forward with the plan he also believed Canada should develop a contingency plan.

Industry Minister Allan Rock wrote in a confidential letter that Canada should develop an alternative plan for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

But Environment Minister David Anderson is committed to moving ahead with Kyoto and said the government will devise a plan that does not disadvantage any part of the country.

It has been estimated that adopting the protocol may cost anywhere from $10 billion to $23 billion a year.

The proposal put forward here is only for Canada, which Kirby said was in a unique position as it was the only country where 85 per cent of its energy exports are with a non-signatory to the protocol.

Kirby said, despite some opposition form European nations to the idea, she does not expect the proposal to be blocked at the next meeting in Bonn in June.

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