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Canada Eyes Climate Deal With Obama

Canada hopes to achieve a North American climate-change deal with U.S. president-elect Barack Obama, the country's foreign affairs minister said Wednesday.

Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon said the issue will be an immediate priority. Canadian officials have been waiting for the departure of President George W. Bush to work with his successor on an integrated carbon market.

Obama has set the target of reducing greenhouse gases to 1990 levels by 2020, while Canada's plan would cut emissions to 3 percent below 1990s levels by that time.

Both targets fall well short of the Kyoto Accord, which is supported by Europe and the developing world.

"There are a lot of similarities between the positions put forward and our position," Cannon said. "This augurs well for a North American approach on environmental issues - specifically on climate change."

While U.S. states and Canadian provinces have been cobbling together a patchwork of approaches, Canadian officials have been eyeing a continent-wide solution for some time.

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has said it's difficult for one country in a shared economic space to set hard targets like a cap-and-trade system while its neighbor doesn't.

"We will be able to tackle this file on the North American level - on a continental level," Cannon said. "Over the coming weeks I know my colleague Jim Prentice, minister of the environment, will be active on that file. I see that in a positive light."

Harper pulled Canada out of the Kyoto Protocol, which commits industrialized nations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The Bush administration rejected the Kyoto accord, arguing it would harm American business and that it made no comparable demands on emerging economies. China, India and other large developing countries refused to accept a binding arrangement that they said would limit their development and their declared mission to ease poverty at home.

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