OTTAWA (AFP)—The environmental group Friends of the Earth sued Canada on Tuesday for failing to meet its Kyoto Protocol obligations to cut greenhouse gas emissions linked to global warming.

"Because climate change is the most urgent crisis ever facing the planet, Friends of the Earth is resorting to the courts to require the federal government to respect its Kyoto promises," Beatrice Olivastri, head of the group's Canadian section, said in a statement.

The lawsuit was launched in federal court, relying on a clause in the Canadian Environmental Protection Act that requires Ottawa to "prevent air pollution that violates an international agreement binding on Canada," she said.

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Canada had agreed under the 1997 Kyoto Protocol to reduce CO2 emissions to 6.0 percent below 1990 levels by 2012, but emissions have instead increased by 35 percent.

Environment Minister John Baird has maintained the target, negotiated by the previous Liberal administration, is unattainable.

But environmentalists note Canada is second only to Austria in the "staggering size of its failure to meet its Kyoto target."

The Friends of the Earth point to a legal opinion presented to the Canadian government in October 2006 indicating Ottawa has failed to show "demonstrable progress" in achieving its target, as required by 2005.

Meanwhile, the Conservative government's new plan, unveiled in April, was panned by both environmentalists and opposition parties.

It aims to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 150 megatonnes, or 20 percent based on 2006 levels, by 2020.

© AFP 2007

, written by Agence France-Presse, posted on May 30, 2007 11:08 AM, is in the category Environment & Ecology. View blog reactions