Turning down the heat
By Brendan Howe
Prime Minister Jean Chrétien wants Canada to do better at reducing global warming than the United States but his efforts still will not meet emission targets for the year 2000.
Earlier this week Chrétien contacted his caucus members from Europe, saying he wanted to create a strategic plan that would put Canada in a better position than the Americans when it comes to reducing emissions, said Jennifer Lang, Chrétien's press secretary.
In 1992, Canada made a commitment at the Rio de Janeiro summit that they would stabilize emissions at 1990 rates, by the year 2000. Mark Colpitts, communications advisor for Environment Canada, said the federal government has admitted it will not reach these targets.
The prime minister has asked for something to be done quickly, as strategies for global warming are planned for discussion at an international meeting in Kyoto, Japan in December, Colpitts said.
"We have not reduced emissions enough," he said. He added if the government had not taken action towards energy conservation, Canada would be a projected 15 per cent above 1990 levels instead of the projected eight per cent.
Dianne Fahselt, a professor of plant sciences at Western, said the government has not been meeting their goals because the voluntary programs in place to reduce emissions do not work.
"[The government] does a good job mouth-wise but they don't really carry through with the action," she said. Fahselt added the government needs to bring in legislation for changes in emissions to take effect.
Steve Shallhorn, campaign director for Greenpeace, agreed the government is relying on voluntary initiatives which do basically nothing.
"We're glad [Chrétien's] finally entering the picture. The federal government hasn't had a program to combat global warming," Shallhorn said.
The reason emissions have not been reduced is because Canada has experienced economic growth and had one of the largest increases in population of developed countries, said Tony Rockingham, director of energy conservation and liason for the Government of Ontario.
He said Ontario is taking initiatives toward reducing emissions including mandatory inspection and maintenance of cars, reducing emissions in government buildings by 40 per cent and controlling the amount of methane gas released from landfill sites.