Canada's Climate Plan Not Good Enough for Gore

Former Vice President Al Gore acknowledges spectators in front of a poster about his global-warming documentary "An Inconvenient Truth." (Image credit: AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)

TORONTO (AP) -- Al Gore condemned Canada's new plan to reduce greenhouse gases, saying it was “a complete and total fraud'' because it lacks specifics and gives industry a way to actually increase emissions.

Under the initiative announced Thursday, Canada aims to reduce the current level of greenhouse gas emissions 20 percent by 2020. But the government acknowledged it would not meet its obligations under the Kyoto Protocol, which requires 35 industrialized countries to cut greenhouse-gas emissions by 5 percent below 1990 levels by 2012.

The country's emissions are now 30 percent above 1990 levels.

The conservative government's strategy focuses both on reducing emissions of gases blamed for global warming and improving air quality. But the plan failed to spell out what many of its regulations will look like.

Gore said the plan did not make clear how Canada would reach its 2020 emissions goal. He also criticized the plan for allowing industries to pollute more if they use emissions-cutting technologies while increasing production.

“In my opinion, it is a complete and total fraud,'' Gore said Saturday. “It is designed to mislead the Canadian people.''

He said “intensity reduction'' -- which allow industries to increase their greenhouse gas outputs as they raise production -- was a poll-tested phrase developed by think tanks financed by Exxon Mobil and other large polluters.

Canadian Environment Minister John Baird rejected Gore's criticisms.

“The fact is our plan is vastly tougher than any measures introduced by the administration of which the former vice president was a member,'' Baird said in a statement.

Baird also invited Gore to discuss climate change and the government's environmental policies with him.

Gore was in Toronto to present his documentary, “An Inconvenient Truth,'' at a consumer environmental show. He acknowledged that as an American, he had “no right to interfere'' in Canadian decision.

However, he said, the rest of the world looks to Canada for moral leadership, and that was why Thursday's announcement was so “shocking.''

Canadian opposition Liberal Leader Stephane Dion said Sunday that Gore was right.

“Mr. Baird is embarrassing Canada around the world,'' Dion said. “The world expects Canada will do its share -- more than that, that Canada will be a leader and we are failing the world. We are failing Canadians.''