Canada Does not Support Renewables, says Group

An environmental group in Canada has given the federal government a report card average of ‘D’ on its environmental policies.

OTTAWA, Ontario, CA, 2001-06-25 [] An environmental group in Canada has given the federal government a report card average of ‘D’ on its environmental policies. The Sierra Club of Canada has graded the federal and provincial governments in Canada since 1992 on the commitments made at that year’s Earth Summit in Brazil. The annual Rio Report Card provides an overview of government action and inaction on key environmental issues. This years grade of ‘D’ is partly due to pressure from the new government in the United States, which is pressuring Canada to increase its exports of oil and natural gas to meet demand in the U.S. Sierra Club president Elizabeth May says the environment in Canada will suffer as exports are increased. “Alberta and the Bush-Cheney energy plan are creating serious threats not only to Canada’s Kyoto targets, but also to wilderness, air quality, human and livestock health and Canada’s ability to develop green and renewable energy,” says the report section dealing with the western province. “Alberta has been moving aggressively as though the world needs more greenhouse gases” and will convert two natural gas plants to coal burning facilities without any environmental impact assessment, it explains. “Other than a few wind turbines brought in by companies such as Transalta, a large private utility that mostly relies on coal, the energy story of Alberta is fossil fuels,” says the report. Canada’s performance at the climate change summit in The Netherlands received a “F” grade because it refused to alter its position. Canada earned the largest number of “Fossil of the Day” awards from the international environmental community and Canada also received failing grades from environmental groups in Germany, Denmark and Uruguay for its concerted push to include nuclear reactors within the Clean Development Mechanism of the Kyoto protocol. “After the collapse of COP6 negotiations, Canada squandered more political capital attacking the European position, refusing to accept any responsibility for the breakdown of negotiations in The Hague,” it explains. Sierra Club did commend energy minister Ralph Goodale for his “straightforward rejection” of the U.S. decision to reject renewable energy and conservation in his national energy program. Goodale is quoted as saying, “from the Canadian point of view, energy conservation, energy efficiency, are very important qualities and characteristics. They are, in fact, qualities and characteristics of an advanced, intelligent society.” Although most government decisions are still reached without incorporating environmental concerns, the group applauded some signs of progress during the past 12 months, including restrictions on ozone and the climate change action plan that provides some financial support to “important initiatives” such as green energy to public transit. It criticized Newfoundland for being “firmly in the fossil fuel development camp” and rejecting a wind project due to concern that it was too close to a bird sanctuary at Baccaleau. “It is most unfortunate as Newfoundland has significant wind potential; siting a facility at a distance from protected wildlife areas is important. This set back for wind power should not discourage wind development elsewhere in the province. Newfoundland needs to move to develop green energy planning.” The Sierra Club report card is released every year on the anniversary of the Rio Earth Summit. The report card also recognizes a number of individuals for their work on environmental issues.
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