Canada doesn’t have to reduce greenhouse gas emissions: apex court

October 22nd, 2008 - 10:40 am ICT by IANS  

Toronto, Oct 22 (IANS) Canada, the world’s fourth worst polluter, has been let off the hook, with the country’s top court dismissing a lawsuit to force the government to implement the Kyoto Protocol to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions, though it has signed and ratified the protocol.Of the 38 industrialised nations with binding targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, Canada is the only country that does not want to meet its international obligations.

In fact, it is the fourth worst polluter of the planet among industrialized nations which have contributed 90 percent of the excess greenhouse gases (GHG) in the atmosphere now.

The excess GHG, mainly carbon dioxide, is leading to climate change that is adversely affecting farm output worldwide, making droughts, floods and more storms more frequent and more severe, forcing glaciers to retreat and raising sea levels.

The Federal Court has quashed the lawsuit filed by Friends of the Earth Canada that pleaded its intervention to stop violation of the international treaty by the Canadian government.

Dismissing the lawsuit, the court said it could not order the government to meet its international treaty obligations.

“Such an order would be so devoid of meaningful content and the nature of any response to it so legally intangible that the exercise would be meaningless in practical terms,” the court said.

As per the Kyoto accord in 1997, Canada was to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by six percent below 1990 levels by 2012.

However, it has failed to meet its obligations as its carbon dioxide emission levels have gone up 25.3 percent above 1990 levels.

Reacting to the court ruling, Friends of the Earth said that by dismissing their lawsuit the court has abandoned its legal responsibilities to hold the government to account on an international treaty.

“This decision is shocking and a stake in the heart of democracy since it appears we cannot enforce Canadian domestic law,” said Friends of the Earth Canada CEO Beatrice Olivastri in a statement.

“Friends of the Earth had counted on the Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act to compel this government to act honourably and take appropriate climate protection measures,” she said.

“The court has sent a message that the government can pick and choose which laws to obey,” added eminent Canadian lawyer Chris Paliare.

“We will undoubtedly be considering further legal action to ensure that the government is held accountable.”

Signed in 1997, the Kyoto Protocol has been ratified by 180 countries.

Under much pressure, the current right-wing Conservative government last year committed to reducing greenhouse emissions by 20 percent from 2006 levels by 2020.

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