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Great Lakes Article:

Canada ratifies Kyoto Protocol following months of debate
Tom Cohen
Associated Press

TORONTO -Prime Minister Jean Chretien ratified the Kyoto Protocol on Monday, securing his environmental legacy and possibly changing forever how Canadians use energy.

The formal ratification followed months of rancorous debate that divided the country. 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.

Parliament voted for ratification last week along party lines, with Chretien's Liberal Party majority easily overcoming opposition from pro-business opposition groups.

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 human-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.

U.S. President George W. 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.

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

The treaty calls for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, such as carbon dioxide, by 6 percent below 1990 levels by 2012.

A Canadian government implementation plan calls for changes throughout society on energy use, such as homes being retrofitted to increase efficiency and people driving more fuel-efficient cars with ethanol-spiked fuel. Oil industry companies would get incentives to meet their targets.

If all the goals are met, Canada would cut its annual production of greenhouse gases by 180 megatons, still 60 megatons short of the amount required by the Kyoto Protocol. Canada wants some of those remaining 60 megatons to be offset by the export of clean energy sources, such as hydroelectric power sold to the United States. The European Union opposes that plan.

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