Canada Lags Behind U.S. States in Climate Change Action — Canadian Complaints of U.S. Inaction Unfounded

May 17, 2002
Media Release

Ottawa — U.S. initiatives to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions far outstrip Canada's efforts, according to a report released today by the Pembina Institute and World Wildlife Fund.

"Canadian Premiers and Cabinet Ministers should not use U.S. inaction as an excuse for not ratifying the Kyoto Protocol. Although the Bush Administration has abandoned leadership on climate change, states, cities and companies are responding to public demand for climate change solutions" said Katherine Silverthorne, Senior Policy Officer in Washington for WWF-US. "The US is not living up to its responsibility on climate change but Canada is at risk of lagging even farther behind."

The report, entitled A Comparison of Current Government Action on Climate Change in the U.S. and Canada, compares action in several American states such as New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York and California with Canada's five largest GHG emitting provinces. The measures include regulated emission targets and caps, financial incentives for clean energy, minimum fuel and appliance efficiency requirements, landfill gas capture and support for public transit. The report also compared the federal GHG programs of both countries.

"Canada's provincial and federal climate change policies and programs are significantly weaker than American counterparts," said Matthew Bramley, Director, Climate Change at the Pembina Institute and the report's lead author. "No province has announced a reduction target —- New Jersey has. Oregon, Massachusetts and New Hampshire have new state laws requiring power plants to reduce carbon dioxide emissions —- no Canadian province has."

The research by the Pembina Institute and WWF found that:

  • Three states have set CO2 reduction targets on emissions from power plants — there is no parallel action in Canada.
  • The U.S. is ahead on policies to increase the share of renewable energy. Thirteen states have renewable energy portfolio standards requiring electricity companies to generate a portion of their supply from clean sources such as wind. BC Hydro and Hydro Quebec have modest requirements to increase electricity from low-impact renewable sources but Ontario and Alberta have none.
  • While the U.S. population is nine times larger than Canada's, it has 20 times the installed wind energy capacity.
    Canada's support for public transit is very weak compared to the U.S.'s. Capital investment in Canada was just under $ 1 billion CAN in 2000 while New York State and the federal government spend $2 billion U.S. in the New York City area alone.
  • Federal regulations require landfill gas capture from all large landfill sites in the U.S. In Canada, this is only required by Ontario, will soon be in Quebec, and applies to new B.C. landfills.

"Some of our neighbour states are playing it smart. By being proactive on climate change they gain a competitive edge with energy efficiency and make their cities more liveable with better pubic transit and less smog," said Julia Langer, Director of International Conservation at WWF-Canada. "Ottawa, the provinces and industry should stop their disingenuous whining about Kyoto pushing us too far ahead of the U.S. and ratify Kyoto as the framework to catch up."

As the country's federal and provincial energy and environment ministers meet in Charlottetown on Tuesday, May 21 to discuss Canada's approach to the Kyoto Protocol, information about how the U.S. is addressing climate change should calm fears that Kyoto will affect Canadian competitiveness in the North American market.

The Pembina Institute's mission is to implement holisitic and practical solutions for a sustainable world. The Pembina Institute is an independent non-profit research and education organization that promotes environmental, social and economic sustainability through the development of practical solutions to businesses, governments, individuals and communities. The Institute provides policy research leadership on climate change, energy policy, green economics, renewable energy, and environmental governance, as well as extensive formal and public education programs.

World Wildlife Fund Canada is a pre-eminent conservation organization that has been working with government, business and communities across Canada since 1967 to conserve wild lands and species. Today it counts more than 60,000 Canadian supporters. Headquartered in Toronto, WWF-Canada has offices in Montreal, Whitehorse and Yellowknife, as well as on all three coasts: Halifax in the East, Prince Rupert in the West, and Iqaluit in the North. It also leads global conservation efforts in Cuba. WWF-Canada recently concluded its decade-long Endangered Spaces campaign which protected over 1,000 new areas across the country.

For more information:

Matthew Bramley, Director, Climate Change, Pembina Institute
Office: 613-235-6288 ext. 26, Cell: 613-262-1818

Julia Langer, International Conservation Program, WWF-CanadaOffice:
416-489-4567, ext. 258
Cell (May 17 evening,18, 19 and 20 only): 416-574-1016

Katherine Silverthorne, Senior Policy Officer, WWF-US
Office: 202-822-3469

Stephen Johnson, Director of Communications, WWF-Canada
Office: 416-489-4567, ext. 254

Susan Viets, Communications Manager, WWF-Canada
Office: 416-489-4567, ext. 253

An electronic copy of A Comparison of Current Government Action on Climate Change in the U.S. and Canada is available at: or

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