US embassy cable - 05TORONTO2967

Ontario Experts Discuss Environmental Politics and Economics with Ambassador Wilkins

Identifier: 05TORONTO2967
Wikileaks: View 05TORONTO2967 at
Origin: Consulate Toronto
Created: 2005-11-17 15:54:00
Tags: SENV PGOV KPAO PREL CA Environment
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

171554Z Nov 05
E.O.12958: N/A 
TAGS: SENV, PGOV, KPAO, PREL, CA, Environment 
SUBJECT: Ontario Experts Discuss Environmental Politics and 
Economics with Ambassador Wilkins 
Sensitive But Unclassified - Protect accordingly. 
1. (SBU) SUMMARY: In preparation for the upcoming COP-11 
meeting in Montreal, Ambassador Wilkins participated in a 
November 14 PA-organized meeting at the University of 
Toronto with leaders of environmental NGOs and academics 
concerned with environmental issues.  Among the topics 
discussed were the necessity for emissions targets to 
encourage industry investment in clean air technology, the 
health implications of air pollution and the reluctance of 
the Canadian government to impose a carbon tax.  The 
participants advocated a broad range of approaches to 
environmental concerns and praised the Ambassador for his 
willingness to go into the lions' den on environmental 
issues.  END SUMMARY. 
2. (SBU) On November 14 the U.S. Consulate General Toronto 
and the Munk Centre for International Studies organized a 
roundtable discussion on conservation and the environment 
with Ambassador Wilkins.  Participants' opinions and advice 
to the Ambassador included: 
--John Kirton, Director of the G8 Research Group at the 
University of Toronto, told the Ambassador that global 
environmental security is a major foreign policy issue for 
--Dan McDermott, Ontario Chapter Director of the Sierra 
Club, said many prominent Americans (including Governors 
Pataki and Schwarzenegger) recognize the importance of 
addressing climate change.  He advanced that the Kyoto 
Protocol was the world's life boat.  The Ambassador 
responded that the Bush Administration took the issue of 
climate change very seriously, noting the U.S. has done more 
to reduce emissions than many Kyoto Protocol signatories. 
The U.S. was funding a significant amount of research and 
development and is focused on reducing the intensity of 
greenhouse gas emissions.  From 1990 to 2002, U.S. 
greenhouse gas emissions increased 13%.  Between 2002 and 
2003, U.S. greenhouse gas emissions decreased slightly. 
--Julia Langer, Climate Change Specialist from the World 
Wildlife Fund (WWF) Canada, added Canada needed to put in 
place a serious plan to reduce emissions.  She said the WWF 
had great hope for COP-11.  The Kyoto Protocol targets end 
in 2012.  Targets were useful motivators for governments. 
She argued that delegates in Montreal needed to set some new 
targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions beyond 2012. 
--Barry Smit, Professor and Canada Research Chair in Global 
Environmental Change, University of Guelph, argued that a 
global agreement, rather than unilateral or bilateral 
efforts, was needed to spur significant progress in 
mitigating greenhouse gas emissions.  He agreed that 
adaptation was also important to help poorer countries cope 
with the cost of reducing emissions in developing economies. 
Rich countries had not been doing enough in this area. 
Embassy Ottawa EST Counselor Curt Stone responded that the 
U.S. was working multilaterally to combat climate change 
through the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, the 
Carbon Sequestration Forum, the International Partnership 
for the Hydrogen Economy, the Generation IV International 
Forum, the Methane to Markets Partnership, the Group on 
Earth Observations, and the Asia Pacific Partnership. 
--Bruce Cox, Executive Director of Greenpeace, responded 
that the COP was "the" vehicle for dealing with climate 
change internationally.  EST Counselor Stone reminded him 
that the U.S. spends $2 billion per year on climate change 
science and an additional $3 billion per year to develop new 
technologies.  He said there will be huge differences in the 
approaches of delegations to the COP-11 meetings from 
developed countries like the EU (that want specific targets) 
and developing countries like China and India (that do not 
want targets that could retard economic development). 
--Peter Victor, Professor, Centre for Environment and York 
Institute for Research and Innovation in Sustainability, 
said his students were very disappointed in both Canadian 
and U.S. efforts to reduce greenhouse gases.  He observed 
that the students hold the U.S. to a higher standard of 
behavior because it is bigger and more important than 
Canada.  The U.S. needs to get the word out about how it is 
making progress in this important area, he observed.  The CG 
offered to bring U.S. experts in to speak to Canadian 
university students. 
--Louis Pauly, Director for International Studies, Munk 
Centre, at the University of Toronto, said NGOs should do 
more to educate the public and foster change.  Efforts to 
reduce greenhouse gas emissions should come from the 
grassroots, he argued, not always from the top down as 
government "edicts." 
--John Wellner, Environment Program Director, Ontario 
Medical Association, noted air quality was a serious concern 
in Toronto.  The amount of ground-level ozone had been 
increasing for the past 20 years, he said.  The number of 
smog alert days and level of particulate matter in the air 
had also been increasing.  U.S. policy to improve air 
quality was not aggressive enough.  EST Counselor Stone 
replied the U.S. and Canada had worked closely together on 
air quality and have made great strides in reducing 
pollutants.  He also noted that the U.S. wanted to negotiate 
with Canada a particulate matter annex to the Air Quality 
--Colin Isaacs, President of the CIAL Group, said Canada 
expected to see an overhaul of the Clean Development aspects 
of the Kyoto Protocol at COP-11.  The U.S. should 
participate in those discussions, he argued.  Isaacs said 
intensity was key to establishment of meaningful targets. 
Delegates in Montreal should set a global target and then 
distribute responsibility for attaining that goal.  He 
suggested linking targets to exports. 
--Ross McKitrick, Environmental Economics Professor, 
University of Guelph, said the U.S. should streamline the 
Clean Air Act's New Source Review process to facilitate new 
private sector investment.  He also noted that the U.S. has 
an enviable record on addressing environmental problems, but 
needs to do a better job of making its accomplishments clear 
to Canadians and others. 
3.  (U) Also participating in the roundtable were: 
--Tom Adams, Executive Director, Energy Probe; 
--David Bell, Professor, Faculty of Environment Studies, 
York University; 
--Jo Anne St. Goddard, Executive Director, Recycling Council 
of Ontario; 
--Dan Hammond, President, Transport2000 Canada/Toronto; 
--Adele Hurley, Director, Program on Water Issues, Munk 
Centre for International Studies; 
--David Israelson, Partner, Media Profiles; 
--Madeline Koch, Managing Editor, G8 Research Group; 
--Ingrid Stefanovic, Director, Centre for Environment, 
University of Toronto; 
--Usman Valiante, Partner and Senior Policy Analyst, 
Corporate Policy Group; and 
--Erric (Skip) Willis, Vice President of Climate Change, ICF 

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