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Commons supports emissions treaty

©Associated Press
December 11, 2002

TORONTO -- Months of rancorous debate that divided the country ceased Tuesday when Canada's House of Commons voted along party lines in favor of ratifying the Kyoto Protocol to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

While not required, the vote gave Prime Minister Jean Chretien the public endorsement he wanted for the government to announce ratification of the treaty by the end of the year.

"It's a great day for the environment, a great day for Canada, a great day for the future of our kids," Chretien said before the legislature voted 195-77 in favor of ratification.

Canada's ratification is a major boost for the 1997 treaty that commits participants to reducing greenhouse gas emissions blamed for contributing to global warming.

To take effect, the Kyoto Protocol must be ratified by at least 55 countries, including those responsible for 55 percent of the world's emissions in 1990.

While more than 80 countries have ratified it, the treaty's rejection by the United States -- responsible for about one-fourth of the world's man-made carbon dioxide emissions -- means virtually every other industrial country must agree to meet the threshold. Russia has indicated it also will ratify, which would bring the treaty into effect.

President Bush rejected the Kyoto agreement because he said it would cost the U.S. economy $400-billion and 4.9-million jobs. Bush's alternative plan offers voluntary incentives for industries to reduce emissions.

Canada's energy-producing provinces, led by Alberta, and the energy industry campaigned against Kyoto, saying Canadian industry would be unable to compete with U.S. rivals operating without treaty limits.

Chretien, who has announced he will step down in February 2004, wanted ratification to be part of his environmental legacy. Polls show most Canadians favor adoption of the treaty.

Besides limits on industry, the government plans a series of measures to comply with the treaty including increased use of energy-efficient cars and incentives to use public transportation.

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