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Cablegate: Ontario Experts Discuss Environmental Politics And

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

171554Z Nov 05




E.O.12958: N/A
SUBJECT: Ontario Experts Discuss Environmental Politics and
Economics with Ambassador Wilkins

Sensitive But Unclassified - Protect accordingly.

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: In preparation for the upcoming COP-11
meeting in Montreal, Ambassador Wilkins participated in a
November 14 PA-organized meeting at the University of
Toronto with leaders of environmental NGOs and academics
concerned with environmental issues. Among the topics
discussed were the necessity for emissions targets to
encourage industry investment in clean air technology, the
health implications of air pollution and the reluctance of
the Canadian government to impose a carbon tax. The
participants advocated a broad range of approaches to
environmental concerns and praised the Ambassador for his
willingness to go into the lions' den on environmental
issues. END SUMMARY.

2. (SBU) On November 14 the U.S. Consulate General Toronto
and the Munk Centre for International Studies organized a
roundtable discussion on conservation and the environment
with Ambassador Wilkins. Participants' opinions and advice
to the Ambassador included:

--John Kirton, Director of the G8 Research Group at the
University of Toronto, told the Ambassador that global
environmental security is a major foreign policy issue for

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--Dan McDermott, Ontario Chapter Director of the Sierra
Club, said many prominent Americans (including Governors
Pataki and Schwarzenegger) recognize the importance of
addressing climate change. He advanced that the Kyoto
Protocol was the world's life boat. The Ambassador
responded that the Bush Administration took the issue of
climate change very seriously, noting the U.S. has done more
to reduce emissions than many Kyoto Protocol signatories.
The U.S. was funding a significant amount of research and
development and is focused on reducing the intensity of
greenhouse gas emissions. From 1990 to 2002, U.S.
greenhouse gas emissions increased 13%. Between 2002 and
2003, U.S. greenhouse gas emissions decreased slightly.

--Julia Langer, Climate Change Specialist from the World
Wildlife Fund (WWF) Canada, added Canada needed to put in
place a serious plan to reduce emissions. She said the WWF
had great hope for COP-11. The Kyoto Protocol targets end
in 2012. Targets were useful motivators for governments.
She argued that delegates in Montreal needed to set some new
targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions beyond 2012.

--Barry Smit, Professor and Canada Research Chair in Global
Environmental Change, University of Guelph, argued that a
global agreement, rather than unilateral or bilateral
efforts, was needed to spur significant progress in
mitigating greenhouse gas emissions. He agreed that
adaptation was also important to help poorer countries cope
with the cost of reducing emissions in developing economies.
Rich countries had not been doing enough in this area.
Embassy Ottawa EST Counselor Curt Stone responded that the
U.S. was working multilaterally to combat climate change
through the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, the
Carbon Sequestration Forum, the International Partnership
for the Hydrogen Economy, the Generation IV International
Forum, the Methane to Markets Partnership, the Group on
Earth Observations, and the Asia Pacific Partnership.

--Bruce Cox, Executive Director of Greenpeace, responded
that the COP was "the" vehicle for dealing with climate
change internationally. EST Counselor Stone reminded him
that the U.S. spends $2 billion per year on climate change
science and an additional $3 billion per year to develop new
technologies. He said there will be huge differences in the
approaches of delegations to the COP-11 meetings from
developed countries like the EU (that want specific targets)
and developing countries like China and India (that do not
want targets that could retard economic development).

--Peter Victor, Professor, Centre for Environment and York
Institute for Research and Innovation in Sustainability,
said his students were very disappointed in both Canadian
and U.S. efforts to reduce greenhouse gases. He observed
that the students hold the U.S. to a higher standard of
behavior because it is bigger and more important than
Canada. The U.S. needs to get the word out about how it is
making progress in this important area, he observed. The CG
offered to bring U.S. experts in to speak to Canadian
university students.

--Louis Pauly, Director for International Studies, Munk
Centre, at the University of Toronto, said NGOs should do
more to educate the public and foster change. Efforts to
reduce greenhouse gas emissions should come from the
grassroots, he argued, not always from the top down as
government "edicts."

--John Wellner, Environment Program Director, Ontario
Medical Association, noted air quality was a serious concern
in Toronto. The amount of ground-level ozone had been
increasing for the past 20 years, he said. The number of
smog alert days and level of particulate matter in the air
had also been increasing. U.S. policy to improve air
quality was not aggressive enough. EST Counselor Stone
replied the U.S. and Canada had worked closely together on
air quality and have made great strides in reducing
pollutants. He also noted that the U.S. wanted to negotiate
with Canada a particulate matter annex to the Air Quality

--Colin Isaacs, President of the CIAL Group, said Canada
expected to see an overhaul of the Clean Development aspects
of the Kyoto Protocol at COP-11. The U.S. should
participate in those discussions, he argued. Isaacs said
intensity was key to establishment of meaningful targets.
Delegates in Montreal should set a global target and then
distribute responsibility for attaining that goal. He
suggested linking targets to exports.

--Ross McKitrick, Environmental Economics Professor,
University of Guelph, said the U.S. should streamline the
Clean Air Act's New Source Review process to facilitate new
private sector investment. He also noted that the U.S. has
an enviable record on addressing environmental problems, but
needs to do a better job of making its accomplishments clear
to Canadians and others.

3. (U) Also participating in the roundtable were:

--Tom Adams, Executive Director, Energy Probe;

--David Bell, Professor, Faculty of Environment Studies,
York University;

--Jo Anne St. Goddard, Executive Director, Recycling Council
of Ontario;

--Dan Hammond, President, Transport2000 Canada/Toronto;

--Adele Hurley, Director, Program on Water Issues, Munk
Centre for International Studies;

--David Israelson, Partner, Media Profiles;

--Madeline Koch, Managing Editor, G8 Research Group;

--Ingrid Stefanovic, Director, Centre for Environment,
University of Toronto;

--Usman Valiante, Partner and Senior Policy Analyst,
Corporate Policy Group; and

--Erric (Skip) Willis, Vice President of Climate Change, ICF


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