infighting over the kyoto ac-cord, the international deal calling for major reduction in harmful greenhouse gas emissions, has reached a fever pitch at Industry Canada.This week, bureaucrats in the department's environmental affairs branch leaked a report claiming that the accord would prove a boon to the economy.
Its conclusions run counter to the line some government officials have been taking -- namely, that signing Kyoto would have an adverse effect on Canada's economic competitiveness.
The report has been made public just as the U.S. government and oil and gas giants are turning up the heat on the feds not to sign Kyoto, and eco groups are warning that the fallout from global warming will effect Canada more than most countries.
For now, the prime minister says he remains committed to joining the 180 other countries that negotiated the pact, even while his own natural resources minister, Herb Dhaliwal, has publicly expressed reservations.
Perhaps this new report will provide the necessary incentives to sign.
It identifies about $100 billion in opportunities for environmental industries. In comparison to the $427 million in revenues currently generated by environmental business in Canada, the Industry Canada study says that market would exceed $7 billion yearly "within a few years of ratification."
The report also predicts impressive growth rates of 30 to 40 per cent annually for fledgling technologies such as wind and solar power.
The retrofitting of existing buildings, industries and energy companies to increase energy efficiency is worth about $1 billion annually alone, the report estimates.
While he admits that Kyoto offers economic opportunities in environmental business, Dhaliwal says on the phone from Ottawa that all options need to be explored.
"We support Kyoto," he says, "but we have to do our due diligence and make sure we go into it with our eyes open."
U.S. ambassador to Canada Paul Cellucci offered in a press conference that ratifying Kyoto would not be "in the interest of the United States or its economy, and we don't think it's in the interest of the Canadian economy either."
Marcie Girouard, senior director of the environmental affairs branch at Industry Canada, does her best, too, to downplay the potential financial benefits of signing Kyoto set out in her department's leaked report.
"We were asked to use some common assumptions about how the world will unfold post-Kyoto," says Girouard. "So while this gives people the flavour of what could be, the actual investment depends on future events that have not yet been determined."
For Juliet Langer, director of international conservation at the World Wildlife Fund, Girouard's comments merely reflect the ineptitude of our policy-makers. "There have been at least 20 studies since 1989 -- in my memory -- showing the opportunities and advantages of significant carbon reductions. The report comes out and then the oil patch says, "Nope, we're going to lose gazillions of dollars.' And that somehow sways the government until the next study."
Liberal environment committee chair Charles Caccia warned a U.S. Senate committee recently that "Inaction (on greenhouse gas emissions) could be more costly to the U.S. economy." The Yanks aren't listening.