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Canadian Ratification of Kyoto Protocol Poses New Challenge to Bush Administration

WASHINGTON - Today's decision by Canada to ratify the Kyoto Protocol shows that North American countries can act responsibly in the face of global warming and poses a new challenge to the Bush administration to take action on global warming, said World Wildlife Fund.

Canada's Parliament voted to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, the world's only international agreement on global warming, following through on Prime Minister Chretien's promise at September's World Summit on Sustainable Development. This paves the way for ratification by the Cabinet before the end of the year.

"Canada has set an example for North America by ratifying the Kyoto Protocol," said Jennifer Morgan, director of WWF's Climate Change Program. "With a similar economy and resource base as the United States, it is clear that America's neighbor to the North is ready to act responsibly in tackling climate change. If Canada can do it, so can the United States."

The fossil fuel lobby and oil-rich province of Alberta fiercely opposed ratification, with multi-million dollar ad campaigns in full swing for months before the vote. The Canadian federal government's climate change plan has not alleviated all concerns, but is bringing more clarity to the post-ratification requirements.

"Expectations are now on Finance Minister Manley to kick-start Kyoto implementation with the next budget," says Julia Langer, director of International Conservation Programs at WWF-Canada.

The Kyoto Protocol will become international law once 55 countries making up 55 percent of industrialized country emissions have ratified. The country threshold was met months ago - with the ratification of China, India and Brazil being especially noteworthy. The Russian Duma is now considering ratification and is set to make a decision early next year. Both the Russian President and the Prime Minister have indicated their intention to ratify the agreement, but the process has yet to be completed.

"Prime Minister Chretien has shown what responsible leadership on global warming really looks like. In the face of opposition from a strong fossil fuel lobby, he moved forward with the long-term interests of Canada and the globe in mind," said Jennifer Morgan. "This demonstrates that fossil fuel special interests do not have to dominate as they have in the United States climate change policy debate."