New England, Eastern Canada Pledge Action on Climate Change
WESTBROOK, Connecticut, August 30, 2001 (ENS) - New England governors and Canadian premiers have adopted a Climate Change Action Plan aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions across the region shared by the two nations. The government officials also agreed to slash emissions of mercury from power plants and incinerators by 75 percent by 2010.
The short term goal of the climate pact is to reduce regional greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2010 and by 10 percent below 1990 levels by 2020. The long term goal is to reduce emissions to a level that eliminates any dangerous threats to the climate - a goal scientists suggest will require reducing emissions to 75 or 85 percent below current levels.
"Pollution ... does not respect state borders," said Governor Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, a Democrat.
The governors and premiers approved the climate plan at their annual meeting in Westbrook, Connecticut. The leaders said they were dismayed by the lack of U.S. leadership on climate change, as evidenced by President George W. Bush's withdrawal from the international Kyoto Protocol on global warming, and wanted to be sure that their region took early action to reduce the impacts of a changing climate.
"Due to the uncertainty of corresponding actions on a worldwide basis, and the lengthy response time necessary for climate actions to have an impact, it is also prudent for our jurisdictions to undertake adaptive measures to mitigate the impacts of climate change," the leaders wrote.
The plan is intended to address "climate changes that have occurred and that are anticipated through a variety of adaptive measures, such as shifts in agriculture and forestry, building codes, and infrastructure rehabilitation, particularly in coastal areas," the climate plan states. "By focusing on a set of concrete, achievable, near-term opportunities, we hope to demonstrate leadership and build a foundation from which more dramatic progress can be realized."
Under the plan, the Conference of New England Governors and Eastern Canadian Premiers will direct its environment and energy committees to form a task force of state and provincial energy and environmental officials that will develop specific strategies for cutting greenhouse gas emissions.
The task force will hold a workshop to examine the regional impacts of global warming, and discuss options for reducing greenhouse gas emissions sometime in the next year. The recommendations and conclusions stemming from the workshop will be evaluated and summarized at the next annual meeting of the Conference of New England Governors and Eastern Canadian Premiers.
Possible strategies include regional emission credit trading, energy conservation, and an expanded portfolio of alternative fuel options.
The governors and premiers agreed to work together on other regional environmental issues as well, including acid rain and mercury pollution, promoting sustainable growth, preserving open space, and increasing mass transit programs.
As part of the agreement, New Hampshire and Quebec will establish a joint task force to collaborate on common environmental issues, including air quality, improving regional supplies of cleaner energy and combating regional haze in the White Mountains, Great North Woods and the St. Lawrence River Valley of Quebec.
"In addition to sharing a border, New Hampshire and Quebec share many similar concerns about protecting our environment. I recognize that what happens in Quebec will affect our environment here in New Hampshire. It makes sense for us to work together to address these common concerns," Shaheen said.
The Climate Change Action Plan is available at: http://www.scics.gc.ca/pdf/850084011_e.pdf