TORONTO – Canada's Conservative government said Wednesday it will cut greenhouse gas emissions 20 percent by 2020 and ban inefficient incandescent lightbulbs by 2012 as part of a national environmental initiative.
The plan, dubbed "Turning the Corner," includes various measures to stop the rise of greenhouse gases in three to five years.
Once the gases stop rising, the government plans to reduce them by 150 million tons by 2020, or about 20 percent the level of current emissions.
The new goal puts Canada 11 percent above its obligations under the Kyoto Protocol on climate change — which requires 35 industrialized countries to curb emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases that act like a greenhouse trapping heat in the atmosphere.
Under the accord, the former Liberal government is committed to a 6 percent cut in greenhouse emissions from 1990 levels by 2012. But the country's emissions are 30 percent above 1990 levels.
"Canada is going in the wrong direction on the environment," Environment Minister John Baird said. "This is how we find ourselves today with one of the worst environmental records among industrialized countries. Now, we need to turn things around. We need to do a U-turn."
Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government, which draws most of its support from oil-rich Alberta and other western provinces, unveiled a plan to combat climate change last year, but it was criticized because it had greenhouse-gas reduction targets as far ahead in the future as 2050.
Climate change was not a priority for Conservatives when they were elected in January 2006, but polls show it is now one of the most important issues for Canadians. The new leader of the opposition Liberal Party has pledged to honor Kyoto if he unseats Harper in an election.
Baird said the Conservative government will impose stringent targets on industries so that air pollution is cut in half by 2015.
"We will accomplish our goals with a concrete and realistic plan to regulate industrial air emissions," Baird said. "Canadian industry is today served notice that it will have to become more efficient in order to reduce greenhouse gases and air pollution. We will do this by mandating strict targets for industry."
Another measure Baird announced is the ban on energy-inefficient incandescent bulbs. Natural Resources Minister Gary Lunn said the ban will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than six million tons a year, saving homeowners about $54 annually in electricity costs.
Home Depot, the largest retailer of lightbulbs in the country, said Wednesday it will stop selling incandescent bulbs by 2011. The retailer said its sales of more efficient compact fluorescent lightbulbs grew more than 350 percent between 2004 and 2006.