Canada's clash over Kyoto

By United Press International   |   Nov. 13, 2002 at 8:43 PM

OTTAWA, Nov. 13 (UPI) -- A group of leading Canadian scientists joined the clash over the Kyoto Accord Wednesday, urging the federal government to delay its ratification.

The eight researchers say they have identified key flaws in the science supporting the Kyoto protocol and offered new evidence that disputes the Canadian government's position on climate change.

Among the "myths" researchers say are spread by Kyoto proponents: that humanity is the primary cause of global climate change, that computer models reveal catastrophic warming in the future and that climate change is occurring at an unprecedented rate.

The Canadian scientists vehemently discounted them, along with the suggestion that the build-up of greenhouse gases will cause a catastrophic planetary warming.

"Climate science is too immature to justify Kyoto," said Tim Patterson, professor of earth sciences at Carleton University in Ottawa.

"The scientific evidence clearly demonstrates that climate change is nowhere near as drastic as special interest groups have painted it to be," he added.

"On the contrary, our current environment is following a pattern one would expect due to entirely natural causes."

The scientists' appeal comes amid a growing debate over Kyoto in Canada, pitting the oil-rich western province of Alberta and energy producers against environmentalists and the federal government.

The two sides have bombarded Canadians with a wave of print, radio and television advertisements in recent weeks as the Liberal government prepares to push the accord through the Parliament for ratification this month.

If approved, the Kyoto protocol would force Canada to reduce its greenhouse-gas emissions to 6 percent below its 1990 levels -- and it would have to do so by 2012.

"It is extremely irresponsible for Canada to enter into such an agreement without having a solid foundation of scientific evidence supporting it," said Sallie Baliunas, a researcher at Washington-based George C. Marshall Institute and one of 20 international scientists backing the Canadian group's opposition against the accord.

"Not only will Kyoto damage Canada's economy and productivity, it will have virtually no effect on improving the environment," she added.

The scientists' appeal for further consultation comes just a day after Canada's environment minister complained there's been too much bickering over the Kyoto Accord.

"Next to nothing has happened in reducing emissions as the result of voluntary measures," David Anderson said at a panel discussion in Albertan capital of Edmonton.

"We have worked in some fairly generous margins for the oil and gas industry," he added, explaining Ottawa started forming a national strategy to reduce emissions that cause global warming five years.

Public support for the Kyoto protocol remains high among Canadians. An Ipsos-Reid poll released earlier this month pegged it at 74 percent

But it also found three-quarters believe it's possible to develop an alternative to the Kyoto that could be just as effective, while costing the Canadian economy less.

Supporters of a "made in Canada" approach believe "we can do better."

They're calling for a so-called "first ministers" conference, involving the prime minister and provincial premier, to develop an alternative plan.

"To ensure public support for the policy changes required to address climate change, we must have the cooperation of all stakeholders," said Nancy Hughes, president of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce.

The Chretien government has not said yet whether it will call a first ministers meeting on the issue, but it's facing growing pressure to delay its plans to ratify Kyoto.

"There is too much scientific evidence disputing Kyoto to proceed with ratification any time soon," Patterson said.

"There are literally thousands of experts in the field who are strongly opposed to Kyoto but have not been consulted."

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