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