September 28, 1999: Under the terms of the 1997 international Kyoto agreement on climate change, Canada is seeking credit for cutting carbon dioxide emissions by making a one-million-dollar investment in tree planting and forest conservation monitoring in Honduras. Meantime, Canada's forest industry continues to log 30 billion dollars worth of timber annually. As Ruth Walker of the Christian Science Monitor noted in a report for ABCNews.com "Given the clout of the timber industry here, it may be politically easier for Ottawa to support reforestation in Central America than to limit logging in Canada"
Federal Government's new endangered species legislation
According to this report from the Discovery Channel, Canada's Federal Goverment plans to introduce legislation that will allow the use of criminal law to prosecute private land owners who destroy habitat of endangered species. The impact of the law will be limited, however, because the Federal Government and private landowners together own less than 15% of Canada's land area. The rest is owned in the name of the Crown by the provinces, which have shown limited interest in meaningful protection of species endangered by logging, water pollution or the encroachment of ranching and farming on natural grasslands. Furthermore, as Elizabeth Brubaker of Environment Probe argues (see next item) in the National Post, the bill, if enacted, may prove counterproductive
How not to save species?
Elizabeth Brubaker of Environment Probe argues in the National Post that Canada's proposed endangered species protection law will make land owners wary of maintaining habitat for endangered species, because Environment Minister, David Anderson, opposes compensating them for the lost use of their lands. As the bill is drafted, land owners would bear the full costs of preserving habitat, even though their actions would benefit all of society
How not to protect the environment? (See "11th Hour")
The Honorable Ron Ghitter, Q.C., Chairman of Canada's Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources, recently broke a tradition of silence among chairmen of Senate Committees. His reason was that under Canada's proposed new Environment Protection Act--which Liberal senators were instructed by the government to pass quickly and without amendment--"control of toxic chemicals proposed in the bill will be at best ineffective. Health and environment ministers will be stripped of authority. Products of biotechnology will escape credible assessment. French and English versions say contradictory things." It is, the Senator concludes, in a September 6 letter to the National Post, "an inept bill masquerading as environment protection"