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Foes of the Kyoto Protocol, including Imperial Oil and Talisman Energy, are sponsoring a gathering in Ottawa today of scientists skeptical of the treaty as part of a last-ditch effort to derail Canada's ratification of it.

Organizers have rounded up approximately 25 scientists and engineers who are prepared to assail the scientific premises underlying Kyoto in an attempt to raise public doubts about the need for the treaty.

Eight will be on hand in Ottawa to speak to reporters, and other academics and engineers will be available by phone to attack what organizers call the "fatal flaws" of Kyoto and the "myths of climate change" that they say have so far been ignored in debate over the treaty.

The event comes at the eleventh hour of Canada's ratification debate. Prime Minister Jean Chrétien is determined to see Canada officially endorse the deal before the end of 2002, five years after this country inked tentative support for the treaty at a December, 1997, meeting in Kyoto, Japan.

Organizers hope to sway the minds of Canadians before MPs and Senators vote on Kyoto ratification in late November or early December in a ballot that Mr. Chrétien hopes will affirm his plans to ratify. (The Prime Minister does not need parliamentary approval to ratify Kyoto, but would like its backing.)

"There's a lot of people who are prepared to vote on this even though they don't have enough information -- and that's not a very responsible thing to do," says Evan Zelikovitz, whose public affairs firm APCO Worldwide is organizing the "Kyoto's Fatal Flaws Revealed" press conference.

The scientists and engineers speaking out include the high-profile U.S. Kyoto skeptic Dr. Fred Singer as well as Dr. Madhav Khandekar, a former research scientist with Environment Canada.

The speakers are not being paid for their comments, but the cost of staging the Ottawa event is being borne by a group of contributors including Imperial, Talisman and a group of Canadian lime producers.

Producing lime -- used in applications ranging from water and sewage treatment to power generation -- is very energy-intensive, and the federal government's own research suggests the lime industry will be among those hardest hit under Kyoto.

Ratification obliges Canada to make deep reductions of between 20 to 30 per cent in greenhouse-gas emissions by 2012 but business groups fear the cuts will unduly handicap the economy and cost hundreds of thousands of jobs.

Environmentalists say Kyoto critics are grasping at straws by assembling their own cadre of experts to try to undermine an international consensus in support of action on climate change.

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