Canada an environmental slouch, study says

Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper waits to speak at a news conference in Vancouver, British Columbia, March 13, 2007. REUTERS/Lyle Stafford

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada’s environmental record is among the worst in the industrialized world, due in part to its poor performance fighting global warming, according to a report from the Conference Board of Canada on Monday.

Canada placed 15th among 17 peers, beating only Australia and the United States. Greenhouse gas emissions, high garbage production, and rampant overuse of fresh water were its biggest environmental problems.

“Without serious attention to environmental sustainability, Canada puts its society and its quality of life at risk,” the independent research organization said in the report.

Canada’s government has been widely criticized for being soft on greenhouse gas emissions, which have been on the rise, partly due to booming development of the Alberta oil sands.

Canada’s per capita garbage production, meanwhile, is significantly higher than of any other OECD nation and its per capita water usage is second only to the United States, according to the report.

“We are among the world leaders in managing our forests, our air quality is good overall, and we have made progress using energy efficiently,” said Len Coad, a director at the Conference Board. “But we generate far too much waste, we still use water as though we have an unlimited supply, and our past record on greenhouse gas emissions is terrible.”

Sweden, Finland and Norway took the top three slots on the list.

Reporting by Richard Valdmanis; Editing by Peter Galloway