Canada pulled out of the Kyoto Protocol on climate change, saying the accord won’t 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.
Canadian Minister of the Environment Peter Kent said on Monday that Canada was invoking its legal right to withdraw and said Kyoto didn’t represent the way forward for Canada or the world.
Canada, joined by Japan and Russia, said last year it would not accept new Kyoto commitments, but withdrawing from the accord is another setback to the treaty 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 Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservative government never embraced it.
“The Kyoto Protocol does not cover the world’s largest two emitters, United States and China, and therefore cannot work,” Kent said. “It’s now clear that Kyoto is not the path forward to a global solution to climate change. If anything it’s an impediment.”
Kent’s announcement came a day after marathon climate talks ended in Durban, South Africa.
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 represent a path forward.
“It allows us to continue to create jobs and growth in Canada,” Kent said.
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 US$14 billion in penalties for not achieving its Kyoto targets.
“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.
Harper’s right-wing government is unwilling to hurt Canada’s booming oil sands sector, which is the country’s fastest growing source of greenhouse gases and a reason it has reneged on its Kyoto commitments.
Kent said Canada produces “barely 2 percent” of global emissions and said the previous Liberal government signed onto Kyoto in 1997 without any intention of meeting its targets.
He said Canada is committed to addressing climate change in a way that’s fair. Canada insists any agreement has to cover all nations.
He said he would not be surprised if other countries follow Canada in pulling out of Kyoto.
Kent’s announcement drew immediate criticism from environmental groups.
Mike Hudema of Greenpeace Canada said in a statement that it is a further signal that the Harper government was more concerned about protecting polluters than people.
China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday said Canada’s decision was “regrettable” and called on the country to continue abiding by its commitments on climate change.