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Canadian climate shift part of elaborate hoax

*This story was corrected at 12:00 p.m. on Monday, December 14, 2009.

If it sounds too good to be true. . . it's probably a hoax. Early this morning Twitter and various climate listserves were abuzz with news that the government of Canada had pulled a complete 180 on greenhouse gas emission targets.

A news release apparently circulated by Environment Canada announced new, strict guidelines for Canada that included a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions to 40 per cent below 1990 levels by the year 2020.

Environment Minister Jim Prentice was quoted as saying: "Canada is taking the long view on the world economy. Nobody benefits from a world in peril. Contributing to the development of other nations and taking full responsibilities for our emissions is simple Canadian good sense. We want to show the world that Canada is a leader on climate change."

Turns out, it was all an elaborate hoax that got the best of many reporters (including this one) trying to stay on top of the story.

The original phony press release was followed by a second fake release ostensibly from Environment Canada responding to the "hurtful rumours" in the first.

There was even a fake story in the Wall Street Journal.

Bill Rodgers, communications director for Environment Minister Jim Prentice, said the ministry has issued no official statement on the matter and at this point probably won't.

We're just taking calls...and correcting the record. It seemed to fool a lot of people in the media for some reason. I guess nobody called to find out in the beginning."

Point taken.

Although it's not clear at this point who is behind the spoof, it has all the markings of international eco-tricksters, the Yes Men.

Colleen Kimmett reports for The Tyee.

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