BONN, Germany, May 15 (Reuters) - Canada defended its leadership of U.N. talks on fighting global warming on Monday, despite admitting it will not meet its own Kyoto Protocol goals.
Environment Minister Rona Ambrose, presiding at the opening of the May 15-26 Bonn meetings, suggested Kyoto should be eased for Canada from 2012 because Ottawa cannot reach its goals.
"The challenge we face in achieving the targets domestically has no relevance to our commitment to ... ensure that we are contributing to the international effort to address climate change," Ambrose said of Canada's 2006 U.N. climate presidency.
Delegates from 189 countries are attending the Bonn talks to bolster the fight against climate change and engage rich states outside the Kyoto Protocol, including the United States and Australia and also developing countries such as China and India.
"We have very onerous targets," said Ambrose, referring to Canada's goals under Kyoto, which came into force last year.
"We will have great difficulty in meeting those targets. We believe they are unachievable," she said. Canada's Kyoto goal is to cut emissions of heat-trapping gases from factories, power plants and cars by 6 percent below 1990 levels by 2008-12.
Canada's former Liberal government took on the U.N. climate presidency in Montreal in November and the new conservative government will hand over to Kenya in late 2006.
In Canada, Liberal opposition leader Bill Graham asked parliament on Monday:
"Does the Prime Minister and his party not see the irony in someone who despises Kyoto chairing a conference designed to make Kyoto work or has he sent the minister as some sort of fifth columnist to destroy the system from within?"
Environmentalists also said Canada was not the right nation to try to persuade other countries to cut down on fossil fuels.
Ambrose "must live up (to its Kyoto goals) or stand down," said Jennifer Morgan, climate policy director of the WWF environmental group. "Vague statements about 'commitments to international efforts' are not serious."
German Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel said it was too early for Canada to give up on Kyoto targets for 2012.
"I'm not sure it's true (that Canada will overshoot its goals)," he said. "We are in 2006, there's six years left".
Ambrose said last week that Canada's emissions were 35 percent over 1990 levels. She said Canada needs a break as a major energy exporter -- the country's emissions are set to soar as Alberta's oil deposits are being exploited amid high prices.
Kyoto's goals are meant to slow climate change that could spur droughts, floods, powerful hurricanes and flood low-lying Pacific islands by driving up sea levels in coming decades.
The first two days of the Bonn talks are a non-binding "dialogue" seeking common ground between about 40 industrial nations which have targets under Kyoto and all other countries.
"We need a common strategy and common targets and also common policies between the industrialised world and the developing world," Germany's Gabriel said.
"This must include countries such as the United States, Australia, India, China and others," he said.
The United States pulled out of Kyoto in 2001, saying it would cost jobs and wrongly excluded developing nations from a first round. Washington is instead making big investments in new technologies, ranging from hydrogen to solar power.
Source : AlertNet.Org