Joint Meeting of Environment and Energy Ministers


REGINA – November 12, 1997 – Federal, provincial and territorial energy and environment ministers met today to consider Canada’s approach to the international negotiations on climate change in Kyoto, Japan this December. Ministers discussed the key elements of a Canadian position on climate change, the domestic implications of an agreement, and a process for collaboration on further action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Ministers recognized that climate change poses a major environmental, social and economic challenge for Canada. Ministers agreed on the need for effective global action to address the issue.

All governments shared a concern about finding the appropriate balance between the costs of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and the risks and costs associated with unchecked climate change. "Limiting our emissions must be done in ways that carefully consider our international competitiveness, trade balances and regional economies. At the same time, we need to support new economic investments, trade and technological opportunities," stated Co-chair Newfoundland and Labrador Energy Minister Charles Furey.

Promoting a Global Response
Ministers acknowledged that Canada needs to be part of a realistic global agreement on climate change. Based upon the current understanding of Canadian circumstances and the state of international negotiations, ministers agreed that it is reasonable to seek to reduce aggregate greenhouse gas emissions in Canada back to 1990 levels by approximately 2010. Ministers further recognized the desirability to move beyond this basic stabilization of greenhouse gases, emphasizing the importance of flexibility elements in the agreement, the advance of science and technology, and the appropriate involvement of developing countries.

Ministers highlighted joint implementation and technology transfer as ways to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions globally. In this regard, they pointed out the major contribution that natural gas, hydro-electricity and the development of renewable energy can make to meeting world energy needs and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Canada will ensure that its commitments and actions are consistent with its major trading partners.

Acknowledging the Need for Action
Domestically, Ministers agreed on the need to strengthen and broaden efforts under the National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC) and to work together in exploring the mitigative measures needed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Canada. The initial priority is to strengthen actions under the Voluntary Challenge and Registry (VCR) and EcoGeste and ensure that participants receive appropriate recognition and credit for their actions.

Ministers emphasized the importance of ensuring Canadians are aware of the impacts of climate change and the need for individual action. Ministers agreed that innovative approaches such as emissions trading, need to be examined.

"It is only with governments working cooperatively and in partnership with industry, environmental groups and individual Canadians that we will reduce our emissions of greenhouse gases," said Co-chair Alberta Environment Minister Ty Lund. "Together, we will address our international commitments in such a way that no region or sector is asked to bear an unreasonable share of the burden."

Discussion of domestic implementation was linked to the need to have a clear understanding of the implications of any package of measures -- both in terms of environmental and economic impacts. Ministers agreed to review measures across all sectors and to pursue a step-by-step plan.

"The international scientific consensus on the risks of climate change indicates that global action is necessary. We know that we must make changes in the way we produce and consume energy, and in how we transport people and goods," stated Federal Environment Minister Christine Stewart. "Today, we committed to developing and implementing a strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in a way that advances the environmental, economic and social goals of Canadians. Today, we agreed that there would be continuing active involvement of the provinces and territories leading up to, through and following the Kyoto Conference."

Federal Natural Resources Minister Ralph Goodale noted the need for Canada to intensify its mitigative efforts with regard to climate change. "We recognize the achievements in addressing climate change through voluntary initiatives. These efforts need to be broadened and deepened in the context of a larger overall package of proactive initiatives. However, more must be done by all governments and sectors if we are to further control greenhouse gas emissions. We have also made progress by setting energy efficiency standards, promoting technological advances and by providing information to consumers," said Minister Goodale. "Among other things, we need a plan that encourages investment in new energy-efficient and renewable energy technologies, and technologies that reduce emissions from fuel use and energy production."

The Next Steps
Ministers from around the world will be meeting in Kyoto, Japan from December 8 - 10, 1997, to negotiate a legal instrument to address the global challenge of climate change. Federal Ministers will be joined by provincial and territorial colleagues as well as representatives of environmental groups and industry in Kyoto to work towards an agreement for Canada and for the globe. The Canadian delegation will advocate an economically achievable agreement that provides maximum flexibility in how emissions can be reduced in each country, and encourages the participation of developing countries.

Following Kyoto, ministers agreed to work collaboratively to develop a national implementation plan.

Due to the length of time spent discussing climate change, smog and acid rain will be addressed at the next opportunity.

- 30 -


For further information...

Dan Brock
           Press Secretary
           Minister of Environment Canada
           (613) 953-0735            


John Embury
           Press Secretary
           Minister of Natural Resources Canada
           (613) 996-2007