In remarks that are consistent with Canada's declared position over the past several months, federal Environment Minister Jim Prentice emphasized to the Globe and Mail that Canada's top priority is harmonizing its approach to regulating greenhouse gasses with that of the U.S. Minister Prentice clarified that such harmonization extends to the setting of reduction targets: "By definition, that means we will want to see our targets and the American targets equated, we want to see our base years equated, and we condition our position [on targets] as requiring commensurate U.S. effort."
In Copenhagen in December, Canada declared its target to be a reduction of 20% from 2006 levels by 2020, which it believed to be equivalent to the U.S.'s declared goal of a reduction of 17% from 2005 levels by 2020.
However, some expect that the U.S. may soften its target to help pass the draft climate change bill (which is currently languishing in the Senate). Minister Prentice's comments suggest that Canada would follow suit.
Minister Prentice also said that Canada will likely follow the overall approach to regulation adopted in the U.S. If the Waxman-Markey bill dies in the Senate, the Obama administration may turn to the Environmental Protection Agency to act on its endangerment finding by regulating emissions under the Clean Air Act.
Critics lament the Minister's comments, fearing that the federal government's strategy of following the U.S. is as much a tactic for further delaying the regulation of large emitters in Canada.