Climate Justice Programme / Friends of the Earth International

October 31, 2006

Canada violating UN climate change pacts

OTTAWA, CANADA, October 31, 2006 — The Canadian Environment Minister has today been informed that Canada is violating the Kyoto Protocol and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), thus legally requiring action under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA) to control greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

The Compliance Committee of the UN Kyoto Protocol climate treaty was also informed of the alleged violations.1

The warning came just one day after the release of a ground-breaking report by Sir Nicholas Stern in the UK on the global economics of climate change. The report shows that governments can afford to act — and must do so urgently — to avoid disastrous economic costs.

According to last month’s report by the Canadian Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development,2 the gap between Canada’s GHG emissions and its Kyoto commitments is growing: Canada’s GHG emissions in 2004 were 26.6% above 1990 levels, resulting in a gap of 34.6% from Canada’s Kyoto target of a 6% reduction by 2008-2012. Per capita, Canadians are amongst the highest emitters in the world, with the production and consumption of fossil fuels accounting for 80% of these emissions.

In an opinion by international climate change lawyer Dr. Roda Verheyen,3 submitted today to the Compliance Committee and the Canadian Environment Minister by Friends of the Earth Canada and Friends of the Earth International, with the support of the Climate Justice Programme, she points out that:

(1) Canada is violating the UNFCCC in three respects, by not having established measures to reverse emissions trends, or to adapt, and in not reporting;

(2) Canada is violating the Kyoto Protocol in two respects, by not having made “demonstrable progress” by 2005 towards its 6% Kyoto Protocol objective, and in not reporting on progress;

(3) Canada is likely to violate Article 3.1 of the Kyoto Protocol by not achieving its 6% reduction target during the 2008-2012 period.

Canada’s emissions of GHGs, their contribution to air pollution as defined in CEPA, and Dr. Verheyen’s findings, indicate that the three triggers for the legal duties to control international air pollution under section 166 of CEPA are met.4

Beatrice Olivastri, CEO of Friends of the Earth Canada said:

“With respect to greenhouse gas emissions, we have long felt Canada has demonstrated illegal behaviour on the world stage. Receiving the documentation from lawyer Dr. Roda Verheyen is a giant step toward getting our government to do the right thing and regulate greenhouse gas emission reductions.”

Christine Elwell, Friends of the Earth Canada’s Senior Campaigner described a letter sent to the Canadian Environment Minister as one which, “Established that the Government not only has the authority under CEPA to regulate greenhouse gases, they are obliged to act. We have provided Minister Ambrose with a 30 day window to tell Canadians how the Government will honour this duty to Canadians and the world, with the understanding that they are not free to avoid taking action.”

“We support Friends of the Earth’s actions, and trust the citing of the domestic duty to act, the legal opinion and compliance complaint will lead Canada to reconsider its illegal behaviour. Until then, Canada’s reputation as an honest broker and environmental leader is tarnished,” says Peter Roderick, co-Director of the Climate Justice Programme.

“The scientific evidence calling for urgent action on climate change is undeniable. Yesterday, the conclusions of the Stern Review, commissioned by the UK Government warned that failure to act will lead to global recession. Multilateral action on this issue is needed. The Canadian Government must wake up to the fact that they have their role to play,” said Catherine Pearce, Co-ordinator of the climate campaign for Friends of the Earth International.

For more information contact

Friends of the Earth Canada
Beatrice Olivastri, CEO Tel: +1 613-241-0085 x26 (office); or +1 613-724-8690 (cell)
Christine Elwell, Senior Campaigner Tel: +1 416-604-7333

Climate Justice Programme
Peter Roderick, co-Director, London Tel: +44 20 7388 3141

Friends of the Earth International
Catherine Pearce, Co-ordinator of the international climate change campaign Tel: +44 7811 283641

Notes to editors

1 The Committee received a submission in May 2006 from South Africa, on behalf of the G77 countries and China, complaining that 15 developed countries had not submitted their reports on demonstrable progress, required by the Protocol. This is the first compliance action by developing countries to hold developed countries to account on Kyoto. As of today, 6 countries have still not sent in their reports, including Canada. The submission is here:

More information on the Committee’s deliberations is here:

2 The Commissioner’s report is here:

3 The opinion and letters will be available later today at and

4 CEPA’s s.166 on international air pollution is here:

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