Environment Minister John Baird has announced plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from major industrial polluters, but the government will not meet its Kyoto targets until 2025.

"Canada will not be meeting its Kyoto targets until 13 years late," reported CTV's Rosemary Thompson.

"In fact, the environment minister says we'll meet them in 2025. We were supposed to meet them in 2012."

The plan will also allow industrial polluters to reach targets by contributing to a technology fund, domestic emissions trading and a one-time credit for emission reduction action between 1992 and 2006.

Conservatives had previously criticized carbon credit trading schemes, that allow major polluters to purchase credits from other companies, if they fail to adequately reduce their emissions.

Companies can pay into the technology fund at a rate of $15 per tonne of carbon.

Baird said the economy will likely take an $8-billion hit in the worst year of the plan, although Canada is expected to save $6.4 billion in annual health benefits by 2015.

He also said the cost of cars, fuel, electricity and home appliances could increase.

"But it's a small price to pay to ensure a lasting environmental legacy for future generations," said Baird.

He added the Conservatives have striven to find a plan that would limit damage to the Canadian economy while still taking definite action on battling climate change.

"Our plan strikes a balance between the perfection that some environmentalists might be seeking and the status quo that some in industry seek to protect," said Baird.

"Canadians demand leadership from their government for both a clean environment and a growing economy."

The plan aims to:

  • Reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 18 per cent from for existing industry by 2010 (based on 2006 levels);
  • Reach a reduction target of 26 per cent by 2015;
  • Cut emissions by 150 million tonnes, or 20 per cent from current levels, by 2020; and,
  • An as-yet-undetermined mandatory fuel-efficiency standard for the auto industry, starting with the 2011 model year.

Julia Langer of the World Wildlife Fund disputed how the government calculated its targets, by not using Kyoto's baseline of 1990 levels.

"They way they have put it -- 20 per cent reduction by 2020 - they're counting according to a baseline that nobody uses," she told CTV Newsnet.

If you calculate that based on the internationally recognized baseline, we're still going to be above 1990 levels in 2020. That's nowhere near our Kyoto target."

She also added that asking industry for an 18 per cent reduction in emission by 2010 is also misleading.

"That's an emission intensity figure. So in other words, they're going to ask industry to reduce their intensity -- not their emissions - of how fast they pollute. So they'll slow that down, and it will be business as usual."

Kyoto calls for a six per cent cut below Canada's 1990 level by 2012.

However, greenhouse gases have risen steadily in Canada and were 27 per cent above 1990 levels as of 2004.

"We're not going to get the job done," NDP Leader Jack Layton told CTV's Mike Duffy Live. "We're not going to be able to honour the international commitments we made."

Green Party Leader Elizabeth May said Baird's announcement marked a "tragic day for Canada."

"This is a government and a prime minister who never understood that we had to reach our Kyoto targets, and who never believed in the Kyoto Protocol and the legally-binding treaty which Canada must fulfill," she said.

"As of today it's official: the government of Canada is the only government of 165 nations to officially announce we have no intentions of even trying to reach our targets. It's really very shameful."

Avrim Lazar, president of the Forest Products Association, said the new plan says little about industries that have already made strong gains in lowering emissions.

"We think the government made a fundamental policy mistake by not recognizing what's already been done," said Lazar.

"The forest industry has reduced its greenhouse gases seven times (more than the Kyoto targets) -- 44 per cent -- but there's almost no recognition of that in the Baird plan."

With files from The Canadian Press