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Teleconference with John Baird, Minister of the Environment, Canada, following the G8 Environment Ministers Meeting
Potsdam, March 17, 2007

Prepared by Media Q. Inc. exclusively for Environment Canada

Eric Richer: Mesdames et messieurs, my name is Eric Richer, I'm Minister Baird's press secretary. We're going to be starting very shortly. The minister is going to read a brief statement, then we will go through the Q&A session. We're all on the same call right now so I would appreciate that you make that you specify your name and organization before you ask a question to the minister.

Mesdames et messieurs, le ministre Baird va commencer sous peu la période de questions. Il va lire un court discours et ensuite nous allons pouvoir passer à la période des questions. Il sera très important aux gens qui va poser des questions bien sûr, de nommer, de se nommer et aussi de dire de quelle organisation ils font part pour qu'on puisse les noter pour les registres.

Mesdames et messieurs, le ministre Baird.

The Hon. John Baird: Hi. How's everyone doing?

Unidentified Male: Great. Thanks.

The Hon. John Baird: Great. I'll make a few comments and then we'll turn it over.

C'est un plaisir pour moi de me joindre à vous ce matin. Pendant les deux derniers jours, j'ai eu l'opportunité de discuter des changements climatiques et de la biodiversité avec mes collègues de la G8, ainsi que celles de Brésil, Mexique, (inaudible), Chine et Afrique du Sud. Ces deux sujets sont intimement liés et requièrent des solutions globales.

Environment protection and economic growth go hand in hand and it's key that we assume our responsibilities. The meeting these last few days was a great occasion for us to reiterate our, on the international stage Canada's plan to address climate change and to actively participate in the international discussions that go beyond 2012.

One of the key points Canada made is that global actions must be guided by two principles: environmental sustainability and economic prosperity in order to ensure a global success in the protection of our planet for future generations. In addition, I've reiterated that strong domestic and international action to protect biodiversity are necessary to conserve our planet's biological diversity.

For example, we announced last Wednesday our partnership with Nature Conservancy of Canada as a partner to secure ecologically sensitive land in order to ensure the protection of our diverse ecosystems, wildlife and habitat. We also committed $30 million to help protect the Great Bear rainforest, one of the larger temperate rainforests left on earth. Both are the, both of these are concrete examples of action that our government is taking on biodiversity.

On climate change, the meeting will support opportunities for Canada as we have the opportunity to engage with other G8 countries as well as with some of the world's most emerging economies that have a key role to play on this global issue. We have put in place recently a number of new initiatives that will help bring real results in reducing air pollution, greenhouse gas emissions and smog. For example, we launched a $2 billion eco energy initiative to help Canadians use more, use energy more efficiently, to boost renewable energy supplies and develop cleaner energy technology.

I also had the opportunity to share Canada's view and provide guidance on issues such as clean energy, sustainable development, biodiversity and most importantly obviously, climate change. This year's theme as the G8 leaders summit in June will be both growth and responsibility. (Inaudible) of our government's actions on the environment, taking responsible decisions to achieve concrete results to protect the environment while ensuring future economic prosperity.

I think it's very important that we not wait until 2012 before we have a go-forward global deal on reducing, continuing to reduce greenhouse gas but it's important to underline that Canada's not waiting for 2012. We're already beginning to roll out our plans now particularly in the coming weeks on the industrial regulations side and other initiatives focusing on immediate action and action in the medium term. We, there was a real consensus at the meetings, both in terms of the science, there was universal agreement of the IPCCC report. There was released a Paris the policy makers' version and also a strong consensus that technology is going to be an incredibly important tool in fighting climate change and particularly with respect to the five non-G8 countries who participated, a real acknowledgement from the G8 members that there's a right to sustainable development, a right to economic growth and we've got to be sensitive to that in future discussions for the post-2012 time line.

Thank you.

Eric Richer: Thank you very much minister. If we could start off, I know that Randall Palmer is on the line, so Randall if you could start it off, start us off please.

Question: Good morning Minister Baird. I'm just calling, I'm calling from Reuters. Can you give some reaction to the announcement by Mr. Dion yesterday, particularly his idea that intensity-based targets are not enough, that we can actually start, in the case of the oil and gas industry, impose 46% reductions on, on the oil and gas industry?

The Hon. John Baird: Well, this is I think the fifth different plan of the Liberal party and Stéphane Dion have talked about. I think it, it falls short. He's only looking at, on the intensity side, of changing his policy yet again for only three sectors. We'll be coming forward with regulation for all industrial sectors in the coming weeks, and there'll be, there will obviously targets for, for industry across the board. I am concerned that Mr. Dion's plan looks just like a money grab with, you know, very little pressure or focus on actual remissions reduction and I think our plan that'll come forward in the coming weeks will, will look rather favourably compared to the weak effort by Mr. Dion.

Eric Richer: Prochaine question s'il vous plaît. Next question.

Question: Minister Baird, it's John Ward from Canadian Press. At the, at the meetings, were there any, any concrete measures announced on, on climate change, any action, you know, any directions pointed out?

The Hon. John Baird: This was not a negotiating session for the post-2012 environment. What it was is a pretty thorough discussion on both biodiversity and in a major way, more significant way of climate change. I think what we're speaking to, and I think we were very successful at it is establishing some consensus, some consensus of the ministers from the countries (inaudible) that will be very useful in the leaders summit in June. A consensus on the science of absolute that wasn't even open for discussion, which I think was very positive. I think it's one of the first opportunities where the, particularly the ICCC, IPCCC report that raised in Paris, is about as strong as, as can be.

A real acknowledgement though on the technology that if we're going to bridge the divide between the developed nations and the, and the developing nations, that technology has to be a significant portion. You know, we're looking at carbon capture and storage for example. There's a task force that's going to be helping us deploy that. That'll be very important for coal generated electricity. Well, in China they're building 134 coal generated stations. So that, the capacity for carbon capture and storage to help Canada is significant. It's absolute gigantic for a country like China for example. And there's a real acknowledgement as well that the developing countries, you know, have a right to, you know, develop through economic development is done as long, you know, it's done on a sustainable basis and we obviously don't want to see them make the same, repeat the same mistakes that the industrialized world has.

Eric Richer: Thank you. Prochaine question, s'il vous plaît. Next question.

Question: Peter Gorrie from the Toronto Star. I'm wondering if anything transpired at the meeting or whether you learned anything that would lead you to strengthen or in any way change your government's climate change plan?

The Hon. John Baird: I think, you know, when we had the discussions about the very, about various issues, we realized that you know, we're not alone in this. The European Union, the United States for example are doing a lot on carbon capture and storage and I guess one of the messages I'll, that are (inaudible) that I want to take back is that we needn't reinvent the wheel, that if we can work with, with the ideas and experiences of other countries, and work together with, in close, close collaboration, we can probably get farther faster.

I also learned, you know, the enormity of the challenge that Canada is facing. You know, some, some of the countries that are attending have obligations, most didn't and some are, you know, have more modest targets than Canada, but what I, but from the conversations, both formal and bilaterally, I think that the current initiatives that Canada's going to roll out are going to be among the toughest in the world for the next five years.

Eric Richer: Merci. Prochaine question. Next question please.

Question: Yeah Roland Bradley from Environmental Dimensions News Report. The Prime Minister has said that the plan will be rolled out before the end of March. I'd like to know if the entire plan will be rolled out by, for the end of the March? And whether we will have absolute emission targets and whether they will be related to the Kyoto Protocol targets?

The Hon. John Baird: We'll be coming out before the end of the month with the industrial regulatory package. The industrial regulation will include the targets, it'll include as well the compliance mechanisms and, and a not insignificant technical paper for both greenhouse gas emissions and for air pollutants. And this is not, the release of the report will be really the beginning because obviously that deals in a pretty significant way with, with the industrial regulatory side. Obviously, there's going to be a lot of work with respect to carbon capture and storage, ongoing work on energy efficiency. The budget will also be presented on Monday.

Question: Could I ask another question?

The Hon. John Baird: Sure.

Question: Will, will there be an absolute emission reduction target that we can relate to Kyoto?

The Hon. John Baird: We'll, we'll do the announcement before the end of the month. If I started to lay it out now, you might not come to the announcement.

Eric Richer: Thank you.

The Hon. John Baird: But I do, I do think it is, you know, targets are important.

Eric Richer: Thank you. Prochaine question. Next question please.

Question: Could I do a follow-up Minister Baird? It's Randall Palmer. Just coming back to your analysis of how yours differs from Mr. Dion's. You said his looks a money grab without actually causing reductions or addressing reductions. Your intensity based approach is hopefully designed to cause reductions of some sort, but if they do not meet their targets, will they not have a similar money grab situation where they have to pay a penalty or (inaudible)?

The Hon. John Baird: Well I guess, I guess firstly, there's a lot of Orwellian doublespeak in the Liberal proposal put forward by, you know, Mr. Dion. He's saying he's going to get rid of intensity based approach, but in fact he's not. I mean talking about it in three areas, but there's no way even in the three areas that he's defined that they're going to reduce their emissions to the requirement that he set out. It just will not happen. It's, it's, you know, that type of slight of hand is why the Canadian people are so sceptical of all politicians on these issues. We'll be coming forward with targets but at some point, push is going to come to shove, and if the only compliance mechanism is, is the financial burden, I'm not sure if push will ever come to shove and whether people would ever actually move on actually reducing emissions. So, I don't think plan five is any better than plan one, two, three or four.

Question: So your, your plan would then actually require it rather than giving them the out of, of paying the penalty to avoid, avoid reductions?

The Hon. John Baird: Our, when we come forward with a plan, if the only option is to pay, is to pay up and the best, the only option which it appears it is, that's not one with which I would support. We'll have, you'll see our plan. I think it'll, it'll compare quite favourably.

Eric Richer: Merci. Do we have another question? Une autre question?

Question: Yes. Roland Bradley from Environment Dimensions News Report. I'd like to find out if the G8 meeting has convinced the minister to take part in the clean development mechanism and join implementation projects?

The Hon. John Baird: I, I've always expressed a significant amount of concern particularly about taxpayers fund for things like the hot air credits for taxpayers fund, for, you know, for, you know, credits abroad. I think the clean development mechanisms are a different category. I certainly had some good private meetings and discussions where I learned more about it. It's certainly an issue which Mr. Layton has been speaking to, but we haven't taken any decision. I've always, I've always claimed the CDM mechanisms are different for the higher credits in Russia for example.

Eric Richer: Thank you. Questions from other journalists? Questions d'autres journalistes?

Question: It's Kevin (inaudible), Bloomberg News. Was there any, any consensus in getting the US, China and India on board for the Kyoto by 2012?

The Hon. John Baird: I think that, I think that there's, this is both with the G8 members and with the, the, the other five. I expressed, you know, very clearly Canada's desire. If we're going to have, you know, significant efforts to combat, this problem is significant, it's global, it's, it's you know, the news in the, in the recent IPCC report, you know, was far worse than it was even just six years ago. It wasn't intended, to me it wasn't intended as a meeting for, for decisions. But I think we very clearly said that any future global deal, you know, must include the United States, China and India. I think that the developing nations, you know, obviously have a concern that they're going to be asked to car, carry an unfair burden and I certainly led off with a strong view that Canada has to be provide leadership by example.

So we can't expect developing countries to, to do things that Canada isn't prepared to do itself. So we've got more work to do there. And I think the next phase of that will be the industrial regulatory regime. I'm hoping by the next, when the ministers next meet in Bali in December for the next (inaudible) round, I suspect you know, it's the kind of initiative that will (inaudible) of Canada will demonstrate a, a heightened commitment and real action in the short term. But that, that issue certainly hasn't been resolved, but that'll be something that Canada works pretty aggressively to, to pursue.

Eric Richer: Thank you. Prochaine question. Next question.

Question: Yes, it's Roland Bradley from Environmental Dimensions News Report again. I just wanted to ask you what rationale did Canada use in order to try to convince China and India and the other countries to actually go ahead and reduce their emissions, particularly since Canada has decided not to meet its Kyoto targets? I would think that it would not be a good example for the other countries to follow, so I'm kind of concerned in terms of the rationale that you would explain to them, why they should take part in emission reductions?

The Hon. John Baird: I guess I would disagree with the premise of your question. Canada's not decided to not meet our Kyoto targets. Our challenge in Canada is, is a 15-year implementation period of the Kyoto targets. When the starting pistol went off for that race, Canada began, Canada and the Liberals and Mr. Dion began running in the opposite direction. So it's not that we just have 15 years worth of work to do in five years, we actually you know, have demonstrably more than that. Canada will take every effort and take every reasonable effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the short term and I think that, you know, we certainly, I certainly acknowledge that our actions will speak a lot louder than, than platitudes and words and that's why I'll certainly be excited for the next meeting in Bali with a full scope of the action that Canada's taking.

I'll underline the fact that the industrialized world must provide leadership first and the, the action that Canada takes, I think will, will strongly support that, that view.

Question: So are you saying then that your government's position is that you're going to try to meet the Kyoto targets?

The Hon. John Baird: Well, your, your presumption that Canada's decided not to, you know, we have a lot of work to do in five years and we're going to do, we're going to be coming forward with some, some efforts to move considerably towards that goal. And they'll be coming in the end of March.

Eric Richer: Thank you. Do we have, do you have any more questions, gentlemen, ladies?

Alright then. Thank you.

Unidentified Male: Thank you.

Source: Minister's Office, Environment Canada

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