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Financial Post (Canada):Kyoto finds support in industry circles: Shell Canada CEO urges others to get on board with plan

Kyoto finds support in industry circles: Shell Canada CEO urges others to get on board with plan
Financial Post – Canada; May 06, 2006

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\OTTAWA – The Kyoto protocol is getting some surprising endorsements from Canadian industry leaders who are growing impatient with the uncertainty surrounding the new Conservative government's approach to climate change.

Shell Canada Ltd. president and CEO Clive Mather, who supported the previous government's plan to implement Canada's commitments in the international agreement on climate change, is urging political and industry leaders to accept Kyoto, despite the opposition from the United States.

“If we waited for everyone to sign up, frankly, it would be too late,” Mr. Mather said in a speech yesterday to the Canadian Netherlands Business and Professional Association in Toronto. “But I recognize its limitations and I would be the first to applaud new initiatives which might enable the USA and China to play a leadership role.”

Environmentalists blasted Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government for taking a “made-in-U.S.” approach to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by slashing more than $1-billion in funding for Kyoto-related climate change programs in last Tuesday's budget. Mr. Mather said he remains a supporter of Kyoto since it is bringing the international community together.

“Especially here in Canada, we must encourage bold initiatives which lever new technologies,” he said. “Technology is not the answer to everything, but I believe it will play a critical role in helping bridge the gap between traditional hydrocarbon energy supplies today and the new fuels and new processes that we can expect to become mainstream over the next half century.”

He has been pushing for a domestic emissions trading market that would allow companies to sell credits for eliminating greenhouse gases. It could reward companies that exceed their reduction targets, as well as those that develop new technologies to produce cleaner energy. The Liberals had proposed to open the market in Canada with a promise to cap the cost of credits at $15 per tonne with a fund to compensate companies that spend more.

Aluminum producer Alcan Inc., which boasts it has reduced emissions by 25% below its 1990 levels, is also urging the government to get tough on companies that refuse to clean up their act.

“We need smart regulation,” said Daniel Gagnier, Alcan's senior vice-president of corporate and external affairs. “We need regulation that [distinguishes] between those people who are doing something and those people who are laggers and don't want to do anything.”

Mr. Gagnier was also skeptical about suggestions the Conservative government is looking at joining the six countries in the Asia-Pacific Partnership agreement on climate change to replace its Kyoto commitments.

“Even the Chinese have said you need both,” said Mr. Gagnier, who oversees Alcan's environment, health and safety and sustainability issues. “So the debate is not over Kyoto. The debate is over reduction of greenhouse gases and how you do it.”.

But among the various industries calling for action on climate change policy, many are reluctant to directly criticize the new government.

“We've been impatient for five years, and I'm not going to lay this on the Conservatives,” said Avrim Lazar, president of the Forest Products Association of Canada. “I think it's fair for them to take a little time and figure out what they're going to do.”

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