OTTAWA – The three opposition parties have joined forces to pass a motion calling on the Conservative government to confirm Canada’s commitment to the Kyoto Protocol. The Liberal motion, which passed 161-115 in the House of Commons Monday, is not binding, but it could embarrass the Tories and put more public pressure on them. “I think the government is feeling the heat,” said Liberal Leader Stephane Dion, who introduced the motion. “The key question is whether the government is going to accept strong measures and get moving,” said NDP Leader Jack Layton. Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who wasn’t present for the vote, has said the Kyoto targets for cutting greenhouse gas emissions are unachievable. The fact that the NDP and Bloc Quebecois supported the Liberal motion could spell trouble for the government down the road. That’s because the Liberals have introduced a bill with similar wording that would be binding if passed. Also, the unanimity of the opposition parties on the Kyoto targets could make it very difficult for the government to salvage its centrepiece environmental legislation, the Clean Air Act. “My hope is that what we’ll be able to achieve at the end of the day is a recognition that these Kyoto obligations are ones that we have to honour,” said Layton. The Clean Air Act contains no reference to Kyoto, and it would be difficult for the Tories to accept the Kyoto targets now, having ridiculed them so often. NDP environment critic Nathan Cullen made it clear the party’s support for the Liberal bill was not the result of affection for the Liberals or Dion. “Unfortunately, the mover Mr. Dion has very little credibility on climate change. He was unable to deliver as environment minister and now he’s trying from the opposition benches.” Under the Kyoto accord, negotiated and ratified by the Liberals over Tory opposition, Canada is committed to a six per cent cut in greenhouse emissions from 1990 levels by 2012. Experts say the target is likely not achievable through domestic action alone, but could be met through purchasing credits in UN-approved emissions-cutting projects abroad. By some estimates this could cost about $10 billion by 2012. Harper has rejected the idea of international emissions trading, suggesting the money sent abroad would be wasted. Most governments have approved international trading because cuts can be achieved more cheaply in developing countries, and the promise of technology transfer is seen as a vital incentive for poor countries to support Kyoto. The motion passed Monday says climate change is “the most serious ecological threat of our time” and calls on the government to honour “the principles and targets of the Kyoto Protocol in their entirety.” It calls on the government to publish a credible plan to reduce Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions including a ‘cap and trade’ emission reductions system and regulations for industry. So far the government has rejected a cap and trade system, preferring intensity targets, which would require industry to reduce emissions in per unit of production, but not limit them in absolute terms. The motion takes an indirect swipe at the Clean Air Act, saying the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA), already on the books, is available immediately to launch the necessary action.