Greenpeace to Harper: Get serious about Kyoto; stop the tar sands and forest degradation



    TORONTO, Dec. 2 /CNW Telbec/ - As the United Nations Climate Change
Conference opens this hour in Bali, Indonesia, Greenpeace is calling on the
Canadian government to honour its Kyoto commitment and enact new legislation
requiring mandatory emission cuts to prevent dangerous climate change at home
and around the world.
    "Canada's challenge is to transform itself from the one of the world's
worst in the global warming fight, to one of the world's best. We have heard a
lot of talk about climate change from the Harper government, but action speaks
louder than words," said Dave Martin, Greenpeace Energy and Climate Campaign
Coordinator.
    Under the Kyoto Protocol, Canada agreed to reduce its greenhouse gas
emissions by six per cent below 1990 levels by 2008-2012. However, emissions
actually increased 25 per cent by the end of 2005. Canada currently ranks
seventh from the bottom amongst 41 industrialized nations in terms of emission
changes since 1990.
    Rather than take immediate, decisive action to combat global warming,
Prime Minister Harper has discouraged support for Kyoto and opposed the
extension of binding greenhouse gas emission targets for industrialized
nations after the end of the first Kyoto commitment period in 2012.
    Harper and Canadian environment minister John Baird have also undermined
Kyoto at the G8, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) and most
recently at the Commonwealth meeting. Harper has tried to supplant Kyoto by
joining the United States' Asia-Pacific Partnership, which promotes the use of
coal, and relies only on voluntary measures for control of greenhouse gas
emissions.
    "Canada is the only Kyoto signatory to openly abandon its commitment to
reduce emissions. Contrary to his claim, Stephen Harper is not a leader on
global warming. He is a laggard and the last unabashed climate apologist for
George Bush among western industrialized nations," said Martin.
    Greenpeace is also calling on the Canadian government to take action on
the Alberta tar sands, which contain oil reserves second only to those of
Saudi Arabia. Because of their dramatic growth, the tar sands are the most
serious threat to progress in Canada's fight against global warming.
    Action is also needed to protect the world's boreal forests, which stores
more carbon dioxide than any other land-based ecosystem on Earth. Logging
releases greenhouse gases and increases the forest's vulnerability to fires.
If current trends continue, degradation of Canada's Boreal Forest and rising
global temperatures could lead to massive releases of carbon into the
atmosphere. Less than 10 per cent of Canada's Boreal Forest is protected from
industrial development.
    The United Nations climate conference in Bali is the 13th conference of
the 192 parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
(COP 13), and the third meeting of the 176 countries that have ratified the
Kyoto Protocol (CMP 3), which entered into force in February 2005.
    Greenpeace is calling for completion in 2009 of formal negotiations on
binding emission reduction targets for a second five-year phase of the Kyoto
Protocol 2013-2017. Countries such as the United States, Australia and Saudi
Arabia have opposed the extension of binding emission reduction targets and
tried to derail progress on negotiations. However, the recent defeat of the
Howard government in Australia has deprived Bush of an important ally. The
government of Kevin Rudd has already committed to have Australia join the
Kyoto Protocol.
    Demonstrations calling for action on climate change are taking place in
Canada and around the world on Saturday, 8 December.

    Backgrounder:
    -------------
    
                              Kyoto for Canada!

    When Canada ratified the Kyoto Protocol in December 2002, it agreed to
reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by six per cent below 1990 levels by
between 2008 and 2012. However, GHG emissions were not reduced. By the end of
2005, they had actually increased by 25 per cent above the 1990 level, and a
third above our Kyoto target, placing Canada among the worst countries in the
world in terms of reducing emissions.
    Canada ranks seventh from the bottom amongst the 41 industrialized nations
that agreed to specific reduction targets under Kyoto. When carbon emissions
from land use and forestry are calculated in, Canada ends up the third worst
with an increase of 54 per cent from 1990 to the end of 2005. The increase in
emissions was lower in the United States, which has not even ratified the
Kyoto Protocol.
    Greenpeace is calling for Canada to honour its Kyoto commitment and then
move on to further deep emission reductions - 30 per cent from 1990 levels by
2020 (to 417 Mt) and 80 per cent by 2050 (to 119 Mt).

    The Harper Government: Planning for Climate Disaster

    - Harper's targets allow emissions to increase - The Harper government
      has committed to reducing Canada's total GHG emissions by 20 per cent
      based on 2006 levels by 2020 and by 60 per cent to 70 per cent by 2050.
      These targets, however, would actually allow emissions to increase to
      598 megatonnes (Mt) a year from the 563 Mt that would have been
      achieved by 2012 under Kyoto.

    - Intensity targets disguise emissions - For industry, the Harper
      government has set targets based on intensity or how much greenhouse
      gases are emitted per unit of economic activity. It is a misleading
      yardstick that can actually allow emissions to increase. For instance,
      between 1990 and 2005, the amount of energy used in production
      decreased nearly 18 per cent, but because total production increased,
      emissions actually rose by 25 per cent. Thus, intensity-based targets
      can be used to disguise a worsening trend in emissions.

    - Government ignores climate science - Canadian Environment Minister John
      Baird said that "the science of climate change is clear", but he
      refuses to acknowledge the implications of that science. There is broad
      consensus that dangerous climate change can be avoided only by keeping
      the global average temperature increase below 2 degrees Celsius. In
      order to do that, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)
      recently concluded that industrialized countries must reduce their
      emissions by 25 to 40 per cent by 2020. However, the Harper
      government's target would allow an increase of emissions in 2020 from
      1990 levels.

    - Technology fund equals non-compliance - Instead of actually reducing
      emissions, the Harper government's climate policy allows corporations
      to contribute to a technology fund at a rate of $15 to $20 per tonne of
      carbon produced. By under-pricing these contributions, the Harper
      government virtually guarantees that these corporations will not
      contribute their fair share to the reduction of the country's
      emissions.

    - New base year rewards inactivity - The Harper government's use of 2006
      as the baseline for emission levels and economic activity has the
      perverse result of rewarding some polluters and penalizing others. Some
      companies have already achieved significant reductions since 1990, yet
      receive no credit for doing so. Meanwhile, other companies, notably the
      oil and gas sector, have dramatically increased their emissions, but
      will receive credit for reductions going forward. Thus, companies that
      have delayed action for 15 years will be rewarded, while companies that
      have already reduced emissions will effectively face a competitive
      penalty in second-phase reductions, which are typically more expensive.

    - 'Credit for Early Action' benefits big oil, gas and electric
      companies - The Harper government will allocate, on a one-time basis,
      credits to companies that reduced GHG emissions from 1992 to 2006.
      However, those credits have been capped at 15 Mt, despite estimates
      that 100 Mt were reduced, thus again rewarding companies that did
      nothing and penalizing those which took action. Credits should equal
      actual reductions, and an equal amount of reductions should be included
      in the targets for the real culprits in Canada's climate crisis - the
      oil and gas corporations and the electricity industry.

    Kyoto for Canada: The Energy (R)evolution

    The Harper government continues to claim that Canada's Kyoto target is
unachievable, and if pursued, would result in economic disaster. Neither is
true. Greenpeace's report, Energy (R)evolution, detailed how GHG emissions can
be cut in half by 2050, with no coal or nuclear power, while allowing
increased energy consumption and economic growth. Canada can still meet its
Kyoto commitment by aggressively encouraging green energy technologies and
efficiency measures, and by discouraging the burning of fossil fuels.

    Stop the Tar Sands

    GHG emissions from the tar sands and upgrading are about five times higher
than conventional oil production, making them the single largest contributor
to the growth of emissions in Canada. The tar sands have other devastating
environmental impacts, including:

    - Water use - To produce a single barrel of oil from the tar sands takes
      three to five barrels of fresh water, most of which ends up in toxic
      tailing ponds that already cover more than 50 square kilometers.
    - Destruction of the Boreal Forest - Tar sands leases threatens
      3000 square kilometres of Boreal Forest.
    - Air pollution - Cumulatively, the tar sands have made Alberta the
      industrial air pollution capital of Canada, with one billion kilograms
      of emissions in 2003.
    - Resource use - Tar sands operations use enough natural gas every day to
      heat more than three million homes.
    - Reclamation - Despite promises, not a single site in the tar sands has
      been certified as reclaimed.

    High oil prices have made the tar sands more competitive. It is estimated
that oil production will increase by more than 150 per cent by 2011, and more
than 300 per cent by 2020. This rapid expansion will swamp any emission
reductions achieved by improved energy intensity.

    Stop Deforestation & Forest Degradation

    Deforestation, or the permanent conversion of forest to other land uses,
is responsible for about one-fifth of GHG emissions worldwide. But greenhouse
gas emission are even higher when those caused by industrial logging and other
types of forest degradation are included. While tropical rainforests have been
a central focus of international climate negotiations, protecting Canada's
Boreal Forest is essential for regulating global climate as well. The Boreal
stores more carbon in its trees, soils, and peatlands than any other
land-based ecosystem in the world.
    Canada's Boreal Forest is being logged at a rate of 900,000 hectares
per year. This logging not only releases carbon directly into the atmosphere,
but it also decreases the forest's ability to resist and recover from forest
fires, insect outbreaks, and other disturbances that cause carbon to be
released. Already, forest fires in Canada's Boreal have become more frequent
and more intense. If current trends continue, forest degradation combined with
rising global temperatures could lead to a massive release of carbon into the
atmosphere. Less than 10 per cent of Canada's Boreal Forest is protected from
industrial development.
    
    (C) Greenpeace Canada - November 2007




For further information:

For further information: Jane Story, Greenpeace Communications, (416)
930-9055

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