NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


February 18, 2005

The Kyoto Protocol is proving problematic and politically divisive for Canadians, whose economy and consumption habits create more challenges in reducing emissions than for Europeans, says the Wall Street Journal.

Canada, a major oil supplier to the United States and China, is experiencing stronger than expected economic growth, creating quite a predicament in its efforts to reduce greenhouse gases:

  • Canada has pledged to reduce greenhouse gases to 6 percent below 1990 levels by 2012; however, greenhouse gas emissions in Canada are currently increasing at an average of 1.5 percent per year.
  • Furthermore, Canadians are bigger energy consumers than Europeans; attempts in Ottawa to have consumers voluntarily reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 20 percent yielded only about half the expected goal.
  • Canada, unlike most European nations, is a large oil exporter and must extract its oil from sticky, gritty "oil sands" in Alberta, which requires large amounts of steam and electricity and produces massive quantities of carbon dioxide, the chief suspected global-warming gas.

In fact, Canadian Natural Resources Limited, Canada's largest oil producer, will begin a new "oil sands" project in 2008, worth about US$8.75 billion, which will further add to energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.

The Canadian government is scrambling to find a way out. Solutions include the possibility of providing tax breaks and subsidies to energy companies, although the Finance Ministry will likely balk at the idea of tinkering with the budget, which is currently in the black. Another solution is using taxpayer money to invest in emission reduction projects around the world, which would yield emission "credits" for Canada, says the Journal.

Source: Tamsin Carlisle and Jeffrey Ball, "Nations Wince at Kyoto Reality," Wall Street Journal, February 15, 2005.

For text (subscription required):,,SB110842173232054531,00.html?mod=todays_us_page_one


Browse more articles on Environment Issues