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Cablegate: Canadian Reaction to Latest Ipcc Report

VZCZCXRO0032
PP RUEHGA RUEHHA RUEHQU RUEHVC
DE RUEHOT #0639/01 1001718
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 101718Z APR 07
FM AMEMBASSY OTTAWA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5354
INFO RUCNCAN/ALL CANADIAN POSTS COLLECTIVE
RUEAEPA/EPA WASHDC
RHEBAAA/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHDC
RHEHAAA/WHITE HOUSE WASHINGTON DC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 OTTAWA 000639

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR EB, OES, AND WHA
DOE FOR POLICY AND INTERNATIONAL
EPA FOR OFFICE OF THE ADMINISTRATOR AND INTERNATIONAL
AFFAIRS
WHITE HOUSE FOR CEQ

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: SENV ENRG CA
SUBJECT: CANADIAN REACTION TO LATEST IPCC REPORT

REF: OTTAWA 0627 AND PREVIOUS

Sensitive but unclassified. Please protect accordingly.

1. (SBU) Summary. Environment minister Baird reacted to the
latest IPCC report with a statement promising early
announcement of mandatory targets for reducing emissions of
GHG and air pollutants. The Conservative government has been
under intense pressure for its failure to place a policy
priority on the environment when it took office 14 months
ago, and it has been playing catch up ever since, especially
since its draft Clean Air Act was introduced - and thoroughly
panned by the opposition - last fall. The targets Baird
promised in his press release were foreshadowed in the Clean
Air Act, and their announcement has been expected for several
weeks. Most observers still expect targets for GHGs to be
intensity-based for an initial period. End Summary.

2. (SBU) Environment minister John Baird reacted to the April
6 release in Brussels of the summary for policy makers of the
latest IPCC report with a press release stressing how
seriously the Conservative government took climate change and
committing to an early announcement of "targets for mandatory
reductions of greenhouse gases and air pollution" and an
early introduction of "world-leading regulations that will
limit the emissions that contribute to climate change and air
pollution." He reiterated the mantra of "real action" by the
Harper Conservative government, noting new funding for
environmental programs of C$4.5 billion in the budget passed
by the House on March 26, and new targets for renewable fuel
use in automobiles, among other initiatives.

3. (SBU) Baird's statement promises to announce targets for
mandatory reductions in greenhouse gases and air pollution
within weeks. In fact, these targets were promised in the
Clean Air Act tabled in Parliament last October, and their
announcement has been expected for weeks. The original Clean
Air Act called for intensity-based targets for greenhouse gas
emissions up to 2025, after which they would switch to hard
caps. Targets for emissions of air pollutants - ozone, NOX,
SOX, volatile organic compounds, mercury, and the like - were
already proposed in the form of mandatory limits. Since the
Clean Air Act was introduced, the government has engaged
provinces and territories and industry in a series of
consultations to determine the intensity targets. Senior
Environment Canada leadership said the consultations had gone
well, as would be expected, but the government has been quiet
on the levels of the targets. While the opposition has
called unceasingly for strict hard caps on GHG emissions,
most observers still expect the targets for greenhouse gas
emissions will be intensity based, at least initially. The
question is how strict those intensity targets will be,
whether there will be penalties for sectors and individual
emitters not meeting their targets, and when the change over
from intensity targets will come.

4. (SBU) The response of Stephen Harper's Conservative
government to climate change and the environment has been
uneven, to say the least, and its failure to include the
environment as one of its key priority issues in its 2006
election campaign allowed opposition parties to color the
Prime Minister, some would say unfairly, anything but green.
The near complete absence of climate change messaging in the
QThe near complete absence of climate change messaging in the
introduction of the Clean Air Act last October, and the
December election of Stephane Dion (the last Liberal
environment minister) to Liberal Party and opposition
leadership made the government have to run twice as fast just
to keep up. In the first three months of the year the
government has done its best to stay on the offensive on the
environment, naming a new environment minister (Baird, who
will make his first official visit to Washington as
environment minister later this week), announcing the C$1.5
billion ecoTrust to fund climate change and energy efficiency
programming in the provinces and territories, and embarking
on several other initiatives to boost energy efficiency, most
predominantly in the transportation sector. In fact, some
industry observers have even been concerned that the
Conservatives would go too far in formulating the emissions
targets in trying to prove themselves "greener than thou."

5. (SBU) Still, at this point, the Harper government faces a
bit of a "damned if you do; damned if you don't" problem.
While the frenetic pace with which these initiatives have

OTTAWA 00000639 002 OF 002


been rolled out since the first of the year seems to have
left much of the electorate with the feeling that Harper's
conversion to environmental concern may be politically
motivated, the electorate remains uncertain as to how
individual Canadians should respond to climate change. A
recent nationwide poll found that Canadians ) by a large
margin ) favored measures to incentivize environmentally
conscious behavior (tax cuts for energy efficient homes and
buildings and individual subsidies for public transit, for
example) yet opposed, by similar margins, measures which
taxed or fined them directly, especially regarding personal
travel.

6. (SBU) If Baird's reaction to the report was predictable,
opposition reactions to the report and to his statement were
even more so. Liberal leader Dion, for example, took the
opportunity to criticize the Conservatives for not taking
Canada's reponsibilities seriously and "go(ing) it alone with
intensity targets instead of the absolute targets used by the
rest of the world." Dion called on the government to support
the re-drafted Clean Air Act (reftel), and concluded by
warning that "history will judge Canada harshly if we
continue on Mr. Harper's course of undermining international
efforts instead of contributing to them." NDP leader Jack
Layton joined Dion in calling for passage of the re-drafted
Clean Air Act, but implied the Liberals were also playing
politics with the bill, all of which left Canada "standing
still" instead of leading the global response to the
"onslaught of climate change."

7. (U) The text of Baird's April 6 statement follows:
"Canada's New Government is serious about tackling climate
change and protecting the air we breathe for Canadians today
and for the future. The urgency to act is underscored today
with the release of this report. That,s why in the coming
weeks - for the first time in Canadian history - our
Government will be announcing targets for mandatory
reductions of greenhouse gases and air pollution.

8. (U) "The IPCC has presented further scientific evidence on
the challenges Canada and the world is facing and will
continue to face with climate change. But this Government
hasn,t waited to act. We announced $4.5 billion in new
environmental funding in Budget 2007 and have already
implemented a comprehensive environmental strategy that
totals $9 billion and includes the ecoENERGY Initiatives, the
ecoTransport Strategy, the ecoAUTO Program to encourage
Canadians to buy fuel)efficient vehicles, and support for
public transit. We also have committed to a five per cent
renewable fuel content for Canadian motor vehicles and
invested $1.5 billion in new funding to help the provinces
and territories address climate change and air pollution to
improve the health of Canadians. Still, more needs to be
done."
9. (U) "Shortly, we will be introducing world-leading
regulations that will limit the emissions that contribute to
climate change and air pollution. Canada's New Government
recognizes that leadership on this issue means real action
must begin at home. We also realize that for the global
community to make real progress on climate change,
governments, industries and citizens from around the world
must work together, and we must do so now."

Visit Canada's Classified Web Site at
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/wha/ottawa
Qhttp://www.state.sgov.gov/p/wha/ottawa

WILKINS

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