Essay on Canada and United States and the Kyoto Protocol

Submitted By iskk051
Words: 2319
Pages: 10

Steven Hill
Public Policy
Thom Yantek
4/8/2013
Canada Vs United States
In 2001, President George W. Bush confirmed that the United States would not ratify the Kyoto Protocol. However, much to the surprise of everyone in the international community and some factions of the Canadian government, Canada ratified the Kyoto protocol in 2002. It is important to note the political differences that led up to Canada signing the Kyoto Protocol and the United States withdrawing from the Treaty. I hope to show why two similar countries had different outcomes. Firstly, Canada negotiated similar target commitments to the United States. During the summit, the prime minister of Canada told his negotiator to stay one percent below the Americans. It was a big political win for him because he wanted to beat the United States in target goals. (“Canada committing to a 6% reduction and the US to 7% below their 1990 baselines by the 2008 to 2012 compliance period. Arguably more significant, the anticipated reductions below the business-as-usual trajectory were very demanding in both cases, at 29% and 31% below projected “business as usual” emissions in 2010 for Canada and the US, respectively.”.) The United States and Canada were also closely intertwined economies and trading partners via the North American Free Trade Agreement. Both countries would expect the other to sign the Agreement so they would remain competitive with each other and less attractive to foreign investment, again, given the imbalance in the trading relationship in which the US market and US investments are much more significant to the Canadian economy then. This made the Canadian ratification even more surprising because they chose to ratify even after it was clear the United States would not. I assumed that public opinion would be a driving reason for Canada to ratify over the United States, however, (“Policy-makers motivated by re-election will be concerned first and foremost with voters’ preferences. In that regard, the level of concern about climate change appears to have been somewhat higher in Canada than the US. An international survey conducted in 1992 found that 47% of Americans compared to 58% of Canadians considered global warming to be “very serious.” However, the combination of those who considered the issue either “very serious” or “somewhat serious” was high in both countries: 78% in the US and 85% in Canada. Similarly, a 2003 survey found that 31% of Americans compared to 40% of Canadians considered global warming to be “very serious,” while the combination considering the problem to be “serious” or “somewhat serious” was 71% in the US and 81% in Canada.5 Public opinion in the US also seems to have been somewhat less supportive of ratification than in Canada. Lisowski reports that 61% of Americans polled in early 2001 supported ratication.6 In contrast, in the lead-up to ratification in Canada, 73 to 79% of Canadians supported ratification.“)These statistics sort of destroy the argument that the reason the Kyoto Protocol was not ratified was because of public opinion while Canada did have higher percent of support. Instead, it shows that in both countries there was majority support to ratify the Kyoto protocol. High amounts of public support do not equal high amounts of attention. In the United States, 47% of Americans thought the global warming threat was very serious, yet according to Gallup Poll only a maximum of 5% of Americans ever called global warming the country’s most important problem. The same was true in Canada, where only 6% of Canadians called the environment Canada’s biggest problem. (“Consistent with this, three years after the US withdrew from the Kyoto Protocol, 42% of Americans still believed President Bush supported the treaty and fewer than half of Americans (48%) were aware of the President’s opposition to the Protocol. Similarly, despite a high profile debate over Canada’s ratification in the fall of 2002, only half of…