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Dion proposes Canada purchase overseas Kyoto credits 

[PoliticsWatch updated 5:45 p.m., February 8, 2007]

Liberal Leader Stephane Dion

OTTAWA  — Liberal Leader Stephane Dion said Thursday that he would create a $5 billion fund that could be used to purchase green international credits to help Canada meet its Kyoto targets.

However, Dion said most of the money from that fund would be spent in Canada. 

Dion told reporters after question period that he has ruled out purchasing so-called "hot air" credits, but would use Canadian technology on overseas projects to earn Kyoto credits. 

"(In) my plan we had a climate fund," Dion said. "In the climate fund we were ready to invest over eight budgets about $5 billion, but most of it would have been invested in Canada. 

"And the part that would have been invested elsewhere would have been a wonderful showcase for Canadian technologies around the world."

Earlier on Thursday, Environment Minister John Baird made it clear to a Commons committee that the government would not purchase foreign credits to meet its Kyoto targets. 

"I certainly believe that Canadian families don't believe … it's in the best interest of Canadian taxpayers to buy credits — hot air credits in places like Russia — where we are only compensating for previous government action," Baird told a special Commons committee examining the government's Clean Air Act.

Both Baird and Prime Minister Stephen Harper have said repeatedly that Canada cannot meet its Kyoto targets by 2012. 

Canada is supposed to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to six per cent below 1990 levels. Currently Canada is more than 30 per cent above 1990 levels. 

The Kyoto protocol includes a Clean Development Mechanism that allows industrialised countries to invest in emission reducing projects in developing countries as an alternative to reducing emissions in their own countries.

Dion's leadership campaign climate change plan says an "important role for the Climate Fund would be the purchase of green international credits."

"The purchase of international credits is a key mechanism for encouraging the developing world to undertake real reductions in their carbon emissions," according to Dion's plan. 

"Climate change is a global challenge, and it requires all of us to engage in a global solution and that means trading in international carbon markets."

Green Party Leader Elizabeth May told PoliticsWatch that while purchasing international credits does send money out of the country for foreign projects there would be benefits in Canada. 

"There would be spin off benefits for Canadian technology development and there would be atmospheric benefits in reduced carbon.

"And likely Canadian technology, Canadian industry, Canadian consultants, Canadian engineers would be on the job doing the work," she said. 

May said using the system will send money offshore, but asks, "but when did that become a sin?"

Dion has proposed purchasing international credits before. 

In February of 2005 when he was environment minister in Paul Martin's government, Dion said, "We may have to, yes, be involved in the credit system, the trading system -- but in a way that will boost Canadian technology." 

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