A Climate Change Plan for the Purposes of the Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act – 2007

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Canada's Kyoto Protocol Targets and Obligations

Canada has a long history of participation in international processes to reduce air pollution and greenhouse gases. In 1988, Canada hosted the Toronto Conference on the Changing Atmosphere, which produced a declaration to establish an intergovernmental committee to elaborate a Convention on climate change. In 1992, the UNFCCC was adopted at the Rio Earth Summit. In 1997, the Government of Canada negotiated the country's target under the Kyoto Protocol. The Government remains strongly committed to the objectives and processes for international action through the UNFCCC and the Kyoto Protocol.

Canada's Commitments under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Kyoto Protocol

The UNFCCC is the key multilateral environmental agreement through which national governments address climate change. The ultimate objective of the Convention is to achieve stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level low enough to prevent dangerous human interference with the climate system. A total of 190 countries and the European Economic Community (EEC) have ratified the Convention, which entered into force in 1994.

The Kyoto Protocol to the UNFCCC, which entered into force in 2005, commits developed countries (Annex B Parties) to individual targets to limit or reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. Under the terms of the Kyoto Protocol, 36 developed countries (including Canada) and the EEC have ratified commitments that would cut their total emissions of greenhouse gases on average between 2008 and 2012 to levels 5% below 1990 levels. Canada's target is an average of 6% below 1990 levels over the 2008-2012 period.

Canada has met and will continue to meet a series of requirements under the Kyoto Protocol. These include: providing financial assistance to developing countries so that they may endeavour to meet lesser commitments; submitting periodic "national communications" that include additional information to the information submitted to the UNFCCC; submitting a one-time "Initial Report under the Kyoto Protocol" to facilitate the operation of the first commitment period and describe the required infrastructure that Canada has in place; and, submitting a one-time "Report on Demonstrable Progress under the Kyoto Protocol" outlining the initiatives put in place in Canada in achieving its commitments under the Protocol.

Along with these submissions, Canada has also established a national inventory system for measuring and reporting emissions and removals of greenhouse gases and is establishing a national registry. The registry will serve as a tracking system to ensure accurate accounting of the initial issuance of the amount of greenhouse gas emissions allowed in Canada, and the subsequent international transactions undertaken with other countries.

In its "Initial Report under the Kyoto Protocol" filed with the UNFCCC Secretariat on March 15, 2007, Canada declared its base year emissions (1990) under the Kyoto Protocol to be 599 Mt CO2 equivalent2 (eq). In accordance with Article 3, paragraphs 7 and 8 of the Kyoto Protocol, Canada's allowable emissions for the period 2008 to 2012 are 2,815 Mt (i.e. 94% of the 1990 level multiplied by five)3. This means Canada's target level of greenhouse gas emissions is an average of 563 Mt CO2 eq per year for the period 2008 to 2012.

Timelines for Compliance with the Kyoto Protocol

The first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol begins January 1, 2008, and ends December 31, 2012. Kyoto Protocol Annex B Parties are required to submit their annual greenhouse gas emissions data in the form of a national inventory report, the first of which will be due on April 15, 2010, with the final report for 2012 due on April 15, 2014. The degree to which a ratifying Party has met its emissions reduction obligations under the Kyoto Protocol will be assessed after its final report has been filed in 2014.

An Expert Review Team will examine and record each country's total emissions for the commitment period (2008-2012), along with final accounting quantities for land use, land-use change and forestry activities. Once the expert review process has been completed for all Parties, a 100-day "additional period for fulfillment of commitments" will begin. This period is intended to provide Parties with the opportunity to undertake and finalize the transactions necessary to achieve compliance with Article 3, paragraph 1, of the Kyoto Protocol. The specific date when the 100-day period begins will be determined by the Conference of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol prior to 2014.

2 Carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2 eq) is a metric measure used to compare the emissions from various greenhouse gases based upon their global warming potential (GWP). The carbon dioxide equivalent for a gas is derived by multiplying the tonnes of the gas by the associated GWP. For example, the GWP for methane is 21, which means that emissions of 1 million metric tonnes of methane are equivalent to emissions of 21 million metric tonnes of carbon dioxide.

3 Canada's Initial Report Under the Kyoto Protocol, 2007.

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