May 27, 2002

U.S. outpaces Canada in GHG reduction initiatives, says Pembina/WWF study

U.S. initiatives to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, while far from sufficient, are still well ahead of Canada's efforts, claims a new report by the Pembina Institute and World Wildlife Fund (WWF).

"Canadian Premiers and Cabinet Ministers should not use U.S. inaction as an excuse for not ratifying the Kyoto Protocol. Although the Bush Administration has abandoned leadership on climate change, states, cities and companies are responding to public demand for climate change solutions" said Katherine Silverthorne, senior policy officer in Washington for WWF-US. "The US is not living up to its responsibility on climate change but Canada is at risk of lagging even farther behind."

A Comparison of Current Government Action on Climate Change in the U.S. and Canada, reviewed measures implemented by U.S. states with populations over one million (e.g. New Jersey, New York and California) with Canada's five largest GHG-emitting provinces (BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario and Quebec).

The measures examined included regulated emission targets and caps; financial incentives for clean energy; minimum fuel and appliance efficiency requirements; landfill gas capture; and support for public transit. The study also compared the federal GHG programs of both countries.

The research by the Pembina Institute and WWF found state governments in particular to be far ahead of provincial governments in implementing GHG-reducing measures. The study also reported:

* Three states have set CO2 reduction targets on emissions from power plants; there is no parallel action in Canada.

* The U.S. is ahead on policies to increase the share of renewable energy. Thirteen states have renewable energy portfolio standards requiring electricity companies to generate a portion of their supply from clean sources such as wind. BC Hydro and Hydro Quebec have modest requirements to increase electricity from low-impact renewable sources but Ontario and Alberta have none.

* While the U.S. population is nine times larger than Canada's, it has 20 times the installed wind energy capacity.

* Canada's support for public transit is very weak compared to that of the U.S. Capital investment in Canada was just under $1 billion (Cdn) in 2000 while New York State and the federal government spend $2 billion (U.S.) in the New York City area alone.

* Federal regulations require landfill gas capture from all large landfill sites in the U.S. In Canada, this is currently required only by Ontario and will be in Quebec shortly. A similar requirement in BC applies to new landfills only.

The two groups say their research addresses a significant flaw in the argument put forth by those opposed to Canada's ratification of the Kyoto Protocol. Opponents claim that ratification will put Canada at an economic disadvantage in view of U.S. rejection of Kyoto. The fact that the U.S. is acting outside the Protocol does not mean that Canada should, or can, do likewise. Even though U.S. action has been far from sufficient, WWF and the Institute maintain that Canada's track record has been very poor in the absence of a legally binding international commitment.

Canada must ratify the Protocol in order to assume its responsibility to participate in the global effort to curb climate change, says the study. Doing so, it concludes, will at least help close the gap between Canada and the U.S. in this area.

An electronic copy of A Comparison of Current Government Action on Climate Change in the U.S. and Canada is available at: or

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