Canada withdraws from landmark Kyoto accord
In this file photo Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien (3rd R) signing the Kyoto Protocol during a ceremony on Parliament Hill in Ottawa. Canada formally withdraw from the Kyoto Protocol on climate change, the country’s environment minister has said, making it the first nation to pull out of the global treaty. AFP photoCanada pulled out of the Kyoto Protocol on climate change Dec. 12, saying the accord will not help solve the climate crisis. It dealt a blow to the anti-global warming treaty, which has not been formally renounced by any other country.
Environment Minister Peter Kent said Canada is invoking its legal right to withdraw and Kyoto does not represent the way forward for Canada or the world.
“Kyoto is not the path forward for a global solution to climate change,” Kent said. “If anything, it’s an impediment.” Canada, joined by Japan and Russia, said last year it will not accept new Kyoto commitments, but withdrawing from the accord is another setback to the treaty that concluded with much fanfare in 1997.
The protocol, initially adopted in Kyoto, Japan in 1997, is aimed at fighting global warming. Canada’s previous Liberal government signed the accord but did little to implement it, and Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservative government never embraced it.
“The Kyoto Protocol does not cover the world’s largest two emitters, the United States and China, and therefore cannot work,” Kent said. He said he would not be surprised if other countries follow Canada in pulling out of the protocol. Kent’s announcement comes a day after marathon climate talks wrapped up in the South African port city of Durban.
Negotiators from nearly 200 countries agreed on a deal that sets the world on a path to sign a new climate treaty by 2015 to replace the first Kyoto Protocol, which expires at the end of next year. Kent said the Durban agreement does present a path forward. Durban’s accord envisions a new treaty with binding targets for all countries to take effect in 2020.
‘$1,600 from every Canadian family’
The announcement was not a surprise. Canada faced international criticism at the recent climate talks in South Africa amid reports it would pull out of Kyoto. Kent had said previously that signing the Kyoto Protocol on climate change was one of the previous government’s biggest blunders. The accord requires countries to give a year’s notice to withdraw. Kent said the move saves Canada $14 billion in penalties for not achieving its Kyoto targets.
“That’s $1,600 from every Canadian family. That’s the Kyoto cost to Canadians. That was the legacy of an incompetent Liberal government,” Kent said. “We believe that a new agreement that will allow us to generate jobs and economic growth represents the way forward.
“To meet the targets under Kyoto for 2012 would be the equivalent of either removing every car, truck, ATV, tractor, ambulance, police car and vehicle of every kind from Canadian roads or closing down the entire farming and agriculture sector and cutting heat to every home, office, hospital, factory and building in Canada,” Kent said.
China, the world’s largest carbon emitter, said yesterday Canada’s withdrawal from the Kyoto Protocol was “regrettable” and went against international attempts to tackle climate change. The move is “against the efforts of the international community and is regrettable,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Liu Weimin told a regular media briefing.
“The Kyoto Protocol is still quite shaky with many countries wanting to jump out of the ship. This Canadian position to leave behind the Kyoto Protocol does destabilize the positive action,” said Li Yan, Greenpeace climate and energy manager in Beijing.
Compiled from AP and AFP stories by the Daily News staff.