Canada withdraws from Kyoto Protocol

2011-12-13 08:56

Ottawa - Canada on Monday became the first country to formally withdraw from the Kyoto Protocol, saying the pact on cutting carbon emissions was preventing the world from effectively tackling climate change.

"We are invoking Canada's legal right to formally withdraw from Kyoto," Environment Minister Peter Kent said following a marathon UN climate conference in Durban, at which nations agreed to a new roadmap for worldwide action.

The landmark pact reached in 1997 is the only global treaty that sets down targeted curbs in global emissions.

But those curbs apply only to rich countries, excluding the United States, which has refused to ratify the accord.


"Kyoto is not the path forward for a global solution to climate change," Kent said. "If anything, it's an impediment.

"We believe that a new agreement with legally binding commitments for all major emitters that allows us as a country to continue to generate jobs and economic growth represents the path forward."

Canada agreed under the Kyoto Protocol to reduce CO2 emissions to 6.0% below 1990 levels by 2012, but its emissions of the gases blamed for damaging Earth's fragile climate system have instead increased sharply.

Saying the targets agreed to by a previous Liberal administration were unattainable, Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government last year unveiled its own measures aimed at curbing emissions, in line with US efforts.


Pulling out of Kyoto now allows Canada to avoid paying penalties of up to US$13.6bn for missing its targets.

Kent also cited major impacts on Canada's economy that will be avoided by withdrawing from the treaty.

"Under Kyoto, Canada is facing radical and irresponsible choices if we're to avoid punishing multibillion-dollar payments," Kent said, noting that Canada produces barely 2% of global emissions.

"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 agricultural sector and cutting heat to every home, office, hospital, factory, and building in Canada."

Symbolic blow

For Kyoto supporters, the anticipated Canadian pullout was expected to be a symbolic blow and badly damage a UN climate process already weakened by divisions.

Last week at the UN climate conference in Durban, Kent had already said that Kyoto was "in the past" for Canada.

"It is an agreement that covers fewer than 30% of global emissions, by some estimates 15% or less," the Canadian minister said.

The conference on Sunday approved a roadmap towards an accord that for the first time will bring all major greenhouse-gas emitters under a single legal roof.

If approved as scheduled in 2015, the pact will be operational from 2020 and become the prime weapon in the fight against climate change.

But environmentalists have called it porous.

Kent said that in the meantime, Canada would continue to try to reduce its emissions under a domestic plan that calls for a 20% cut from 2006 levels by 2020, or as critics point out, a mere 3% from 1990 levels.

The latest data last year showed that Canadian carbon emissions were currently up more than 35% from 1990.

  • robbie.crouch - 2011-12-13 09:05

    At least some politicians are capable to resist "Consensus" Science.

      superkruger - 2011-12-13 10:36

      Indeed, although I think they were more likely motivated by the $13.6bn penalty... Smart move nonetheless. Scary times these when rich coutries have to support poor countries with penalties just because they are able produce more. Global communism...

  • Robert - 2011-12-13 09:15

    See the whole story - Trading on Thin Air - Its on Rodgers Cable, Netflix, Itunes Time for Canadians to wake up!!!

  • Larry - 2011-12-13 09:31

    The Canadians know that you can not ride a Dead Horse. The Kyoto Protocall has been dead for some time now. Better to walk away, before it starts to stink.

  • Rob - 2011-12-13 09:50

    I'll say it again... Too many people on the planet.

      Majorus - 2011-12-13 13:34

      Can't believe 11% of people voted you down for this comment. Ok, I won't go as far as stating that there is a correlation between this percentage and the percentage of humans with IQs under 80, but you never know...

  • J-Man - 2011-12-13 09:56

    I'm not surprised. And I don't think they will be the last country to exit the KP. THE (government of the) USA think they are mightier than all humans on this planet, put sanctions (and war for that matter) on every country that does not agree with them, but * REFUSE* to adhere to this and clean up their mess. Typical. Disclaimer - I know its not 'general' America (i.e. not all - only the a-holes with power), but it certainly looks that way to the Rest of the world.....

  • horan.mark - 2011-12-13 10:09

    A courageous move, and admirable because primarily there must be seperation between politics, wealth and fundamentally the atmosphere of the planet. Every thing we consume has now become a commodity (water, food, fuel, energy) except the air we breath. We should protect this from becoming commodity. The Kyoto protocol creates an environment in which "clean air" can be bought from "poor" countries by richer polluting countries. We must not allow this to happen. Whether the science of climate change and the carbon cycle is accurate or not, we all have the right to a clean and fucntional climate. No economic, political, governance issue is more important than that!

  • johnny.engelbrecht1 - 2011-12-13 10:14

    Only when the last tree has died and the last river been poisoned and the last fish been caught will we realize that we cannot eat money

  • mholthuysen - 2011-12-13 10:15

    Yes and like everyone will walk away from the wishy-washy agreement signed in Durban. The only people who are hailing it a success are our fantastic ANC "leaders" - but we all know what their scope is on climate deals and international relations. The only success of this entire conference was that our "elite" was to sun themselves in the international lime light - and were able to celebrate themselves. This entire conference was a farce right from the beginning - and will remain; and one does not need to be a rocket scientist that if the two or three biggest polluters on earth are not going to come to the party it is pointless that Swaziland, Lesotho, Rwanda or Fiji or even Malta are part of the agreement... Wake up people - and most important wake up media!

  • flysouth - 2011-12-13 10:18

    Canada has started a mass exodus of western countries from the Kyoto Protocol - none of these countries are prepared to be dictated to by the Third World, or to export their citizens wealth and future prospects to the Third World! There will NEVER be legally binding agreement on emissions - it is a dead duck.

  • phinda.buthelezi - 2011-12-13 10:21

    Humans are like HIV to the planet. The Viral load now stands at 7 billion. We are killing the planet that we need to survive. At the end the planet will remain and the human will all die off, and the planet will rejunivate itself. and new life forms (less humans) will evolve. This COP17 is like ARVs, at the end the virus wins and we'll die

  • Phumezo - 2011-12-13 11:33

    Africa should follow suite! Why are we at the fore front of this psuedo scientific nonsense that is draining our public purse to please the green hippies is mind boggling? If the developed nations are taking this as a joke why should we take it seriously? I say let Africa focus on more pressing issues affecting us and more specifically the distute and the economically marginalised rather than spending money on issues that will happen when in another million years!

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