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Canada has bad rep at UN climate talks

Canada is making a poor impression at the UN climate change conference in Poznan, Poland this week, with two countries' delegations openly criticizing its disregard for science-based greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions targets.

"Canada is viewed widely in these UN negotiations as one of the countries that is least ambitious," said the Pembina Institute's director of climate change, Dr. Matthew Bramley, who spoke to The Tyee from the conference.

Canada placed second last in an international assessment of 67 countries' performance in fighting climate change. The assessment, which was released today, rated government policies on energy production, manufacturing, transportation, buildings, Kyoto commitments and International climate policy.

This is the fourth year the assessment has been done, said Bramley, and Canada has steadily slipped back in the ratings.

"It shows that other countries are taking action and Canada, certainly at a federal level, is stagnating," said Bramley. "What's more important is that it shows that we've got a very big problem in terms of the inadequacy of Canada's action in global warming."

As the international community attempts to negotiate a post-Kyoto agreement to cut global GHG emissions, other countries and environmental groups have taken notice of Canada's inaction.

Last week, South Africa's environment minister slammed Canada, Russia, Japan and Australia for failing to come forward with credible GHG emissions targets.

"There was also an article in La Presse which cited the head of the French delegation here as identifying Canada as one of the countries that was blocking science-based emissions reduction targets for 2020," said Bramley.

"That's pretty unusual, actually. Government's generally don't criticize each other in public."

Canada's climate change ambassador Michael Martin rejected those claims.

The Kyoto targets are based on recommendations from the international science community to reduce global GHG emissions by 25 to 40 per cent of 1990 levels by 2020.

"Canada needs to accept and wholeheartedly embrace that target," said Bramley.

Canada's Environment Minster Jim Prentice arrives in Poznan today and is expected to make a speech tomorrow.

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