Green Party leader announces Kyoto plan in Iqaluit

Harris vows to end tax breaks to energy and mining companies



The leader of the Green Party of Canada came to Nunavut to announce how his party, if elected, would reduce greenhouse gas emissions to “meet and exceed” what Canada signed on for under the Kyoto agreement in 1994.

Jim Harris was in Iqaluit to make the announcement, he said, because “climate change is affecting northern Canada more dramatically than any other region, and scientists from around the world are alarmed about this.”

The first party leader to visit Nunavut, Harris said northern voters should be skeptical about the Liberal government’s promises on climate change, pointing to a United Nations report that shows Canadian greenhouse gas emissions rose 24.2 per cent between 1990 and 2003, while U.S,. emissions rose only 13 per cent.

“At least with the Conservatives, with Mr. Harper, with Mr. Bush, you know where they stand,” Harris said in an interview with Nunatsiaq News. “The Liberal party will tell us that they support Kyoto, but their actions have been exactly the opposite.”

The Green Party would immediately halt all tax breaks and subsidies to oil, gas and mining sectors, Harris said. When asked about possible job cuts in those sectors, Harris pointed out that jobs in mining are “short-term.”

The party would encourage the development of “green collar jobs” in “low-emission industries,” such as wind power.

If in power, the Green party would cap greenhouse emissions and create a mandatory carbon emission registry and reduction strategy to encourage clean energy alternatives.

Gas prices would go down because the party would shift energy taxes from gasoline prices to “earlier stages in the production cycle” to encourage competition among companies to lower operating costs while reducing emissions.

Polluters would be forced to pay for damages and clean-up costs. Companies that earn over $1 million in annual revenue would have to submit energy efficiency reports to the government. A series of toxic chemicals would be banned by 2008.

Last year, the Green Party ran candidates in all 308 ridings across Canada. The party won no seats in the House of Commons, but did get enough votes to qualify for over $1 million in federal campaign funding. This year, the party plans to use that funding by sending its leader to every region of Canada.

The party’s leader plans to use this election campaign to send the message that Canadians needs to be concerned about the environment.

After outlining his party’s strategy for handling Kyoto, Harris took the opportunity to describe some smaller ways that Canadians can save energy.

“At the supermarket, I just bought six compact fluorescent light-bulbs that cost me just $15, but over the lifetime of the bulbs, the package advertises they’ll save $270. It’s a fantastic deal for homeowners and it’s a fantastic deal for our environment.”

Harris flew in and out of Iqaluit in one day, and has little time to see the effects of climate change, or to meet and greet potential voters. He did, however, plan to photograph a local stop sign, printed in English and Inuktitut, to use as a message to polluters on the party’s website.

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