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Wait for the details on Canada's Copenhagen submission

Editorial cartoon by Anthony Jenkins

Anthony Jenkins

Today, in Calgary, Jim Prentice announced that Canada has "inscribed" its emission reduction target with the UN, meeting the deadline agreed to in Copenhagen.

As expected, the target matches that of the United States, which was submitted on Thursday - a reduction of 17 per cent from 2005 levels.

However, according to a report in the Washington Post, the U.S. submission was provisional, "in conformity with anticipated U.S. energy and climate legislation, recognizing that the final target will be reported to the Secretariat in light of enacted legislation."

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Having been burned once - when the Clinton-Gore administration decided not to submit for Senate ratification the agreement it had negotiated in Kyoto - it will be interesting to see whether the Canadian submission contains a similar proviso.

It will also be interesting to see how both Canada and the U.S. react when China, which apparently will miss the Jan. 31 deadline, makes clear that is not prepared to make any binding international commitments. Rather, along with India, Brazil and South Africa, it will submit targets based on voluntary steps. The U.S. Congress, in particular, will likely look askance at intensity targets that will actually see China's emissions actually increase.

Is it any wonder the U.S. submission came with such a huge caveat?

(Editorial cartoon by Anthony Jenkins/The Globe and Mail)

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Update Canada and the United States are using the same base year to calculate emissions reduction targets, 2005. An earlier version of this blog post said Washington was using 1995 as the base year. This version has been corrected.

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