Peter Kent says 2015 would be a good target date -- but a few years before or after that would work, too.
Kent is in the South African port city of Durban for United Nations climate talks.
Countries are divided over whether to extend the Kyoto Protocol, which expires next year.
The world's No. 1 polluter, China, wants wealthy countries such as Canada to sign on for a second round of Kyoto.
But the Conservative government says Canada will not extend its Kyoto commitment beyond next year.
Kent says some countries want more Kyoto so they can put off a new treaty for even longer.
"We are concerned that some countries may use the second Kyoto commitment to delay engagement on a new climate change regime," he said Thursday.
"Canada has said all along we need a new climate change regime which includes all major emitters just as soon as possible, and if we can get it by 2015 that would be good," Kent said.
"If it takes somewhat longer, that would be fine."
The NDP's environment critic says Kent's reference to 2015 struck her as odd.
"I will say, when I first heard the announcement, my mind jumped immediately to the date of 2015," Megan Leslie said.
"I thought, 'Oh, that's going to be right after the federal election in fact,' but that was just my first thought. My second thought was: 'What the heck are they doing here? Are they actually just making up policy on the fly?'
"I don't really know where the minister stands right now," said the New Democrat.
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