COP 17 talks under threat by Kyoto pullout

2011-11-30 09:11

Durban - A Canadian pullout of the Kyoto Protocol would badly damage a UN climate process already weakened by divisions, negotiators and NGOs said on Tuesday at talks in Durban.

"For countries that are historically responsible for the problem to explicitly back out would undermine the process and the credibility of what we are trying to do," said Seyni Nafo, spokesperson for the 54-nation Africa Group in the UN forum.

"How are we to going to ask India and China to do more when Canada is saying, 'OK, we're checking out of the Kyoto Protocol?"

On Monday, Environment Minister Peter Kent, speaking in Ottawa, said Canada "will not make a second commitment to Kyoto".

New agreement wanted

He refused to confirm or deny reports that his country had already decided to formally pull out of the pact.

Kent said Canada's goal was "a new international agreement, eventually binding, which would include all the major developed and developing emitters".

The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) gathers 194 countries under a process launched under the 1992 Rio Summit.

Tension at the annual talks, running in Durban until December 9, is running high over the fate of Kyoto, the only global accord that specifies curbs in greenhouse gases.

Current pledges by rich countries under Kyoto expire at the end of 2012.

Several key nations beside Canada, including Japan and Russia, have said they will not renew their vows.

They say a second commitment period is senseless so long as emerging giants and the US, which has refused to ratify the Protocol, are not bound by the treaty's constraints.

Formal withdrawal

Even the European Union (EU), a consistent champion of the treaty, says its continued support is conditional.

But the bigger question is one of formal withdrawal.

If Canada did so, it would be the first country to abandon the agreement after ratifying it, an action that would carry a symbolic wallop.

Nafo and others at the Durban talks that got underway on Monday emphasised that Canada has not yet withdrawn from the treaty.

"If I understand it correctly, there is some internal thinking on going on Canada's position on the KP," said the EU's chief negotiator, Artur Runge-Metzger.

"Of course if they would leave the Kyoto Protocol, that would be a sad thing."

Green groups angry

Green groups reacted angrily to the prospect of a Canada pullout.

"If confirmed, it would be extremely disappointing," said Tasneem Essop, head of international climate strategy for WWF.

"It would have an impact on the Canadian government's ability to enter into these negotiations with credibility," she told AFP.

"Canada pulling out of the Kyoto Protocol would set an extremely bad precedent here at the talks. It can do nothing but further enhance the mistrust that already exists between rich and poor nations," said Ilana Solomon of ActionAid.

Japan repeated on Tuesday that it would not renew its Kyoto vows, but said it had no intention of a formal withdrawal.

"We believe that there are good elements in the Kyoto Protocol," said Masahiko Horie, ambassador for global environment affairs.

Canada agreed under the Kyoto Protocol to reduce CO2 emissions to 6% below 1990 levels by 2012, but emissions have instead increased. Pulling out of Kyoto would allow Canada to avoid paying penalties for missing its targets.

  • Larry - 2011-11-30 09:25

    This conference has always been a farce. A chance for a nice all expenses paid holiday and a gabfest.

      rbphiri - 2011-11-30 10:05

      And people criticized my oracle comment when I said the kyoto protocol will not be accepted by most countries. It was inevitable that the process would be weakened by divisions.

      Amanda - 2011-11-30 10:09

      Well done Canada. At least one country isn't a sheep.

  • Ernst - 2011-11-30 09:26

    What I cannot understand is that it is in every country's interest that the issue gets tackled. In Canada, special interests are clearly at play with the tarsands (hugely damaging process of creating feul from tarsands in Alberta) and the Keystone oil pipeline.

  • Don - 2011-11-30 09:26

    Have we ever really been committed to the Kyoto Protocol ? we burn massive sugar cane fields by the hundreds every year, how many thousand hectare is that ?. Is that commitment to the Protocol or are we just lip talk ?

      robbie.crouch - 2011-11-30 09:50

      Pretty sure of your sugar cane facts are you?

      Chum Scrubber - 2011-11-30 10:23

      robbie - you never seen cane feilds burning? If the methodology has changed, please inform us. When I grew up in KZN they were always burning the cane before harvest, to take off the leaves?

  • JMan - 2011-11-30 09:41

    Typical result of these Conferences: Nothing. Its a shame that we (have to) vote persons into power that decide the (environmental) fate for the entire planet, based on their personal opinions. Its not just a shame, its ridiculous. In the end, its all about the money, and always will be.

      robbie.crouch - 2011-11-30 09:51

      and all about Taxation and political power!

      Ernst - 2011-11-30 11:18

      @robbie.crouch: If you dont want to pay carbon taxes then invest in clean energy. Political power? The fossil feul industry has the most political power on the planet and they are going to lose if the issue gets tackled.

  • Eric - 2011-11-30 09:41

    Kyoto was always a hopelessly flawed and unrealistic scrap of paper. Canada is just being honest!

  • robbie.crouch - 2011-11-30 09:47

    Canada is checking out because the science is not settled yet...

      Chum Scrubber - 2011-11-30 10:26

      Good excuse I'd say. These things fail because certain interests are always looking for scapegoats - at the expense of long term human survival. Greed will win, I'm glad I don't have children...

      Ernst - 2011-11-30 10:41

      Yeah, and I am sure you believe the earth is 5000 years old Sorry, but the science is settled:

      Robin - 2011-11-30 20:03

      @ Ernst - ever the doom and gloom alarmist. Science by definition is, "knowledge covering general truths of the operation of general laws, especially as obtained and tested through scientific method [and] concerned with the physical world.". Notice the word ‘tested’. Science is never settled – it is an ongoing process of search and research, providing theories of hypotheses and testing them over and over again. The only scientific discipline that is not in a state of flux is physics, though even there we are beginning to challenge long-accepted inflexible(sic!) laws. Science is also never a ‘consensus’.

      Robin - 2011-11-30 20:04

      @ Ernst: More - Cleaner energy: Don’t we all wish for this? However, if you read the science you will quickly find that solar and wind energy is the most expensive energy source; in addition it is irregular and intermittent and cannot provide baseline power. So that takes us back to coal/gas/oil, hydro and nuclear. We already pay through the nose for electrical power – are you suggesting that we pay even more for power that we cannot even rely on to be regular or interrupted? The suggestion that we all buy expensive electric vehicles is a total scam. Go read: John Etherington. "The Wind Farm Scam", Stacey International. 2009. ISBN 978 1905299 83 6 (PB) Peer revue process? Come on! I have personal experiences to go by and almost every scientist who has ever published will tell you that the peer revue process is a laugh a minute. Try publishing a paper that contradicts the main stream ideology!

      Robin - 2011-11-30 20:06

      @ Ernst again! Try reading some objective science - Try reading the many papers and publications by: Dennis T. Avery, Robert C. Balling Jr, Christopher Booker, Robert M. Carter, Christopher Essex, Christian Gerondeau, Ben Goldacre, Nigel Lawson, Marcel Leroux, Bjorn Lomborg, Ross McKintrick, Patrick J. Michaels, A.W. Montford, Iain Murray, Richard North, S. Fred Singer, Michael Shermer, Lawrence Solomon, Roy W. Spencer, Brian Sussman, Damian Thompson, Francis Wheen, Ian Wishart. Oh, and a take on the alarmist view that our coastal towns and cities are about to drown, along with the islands of Tuvalu, Kiribiti and the Maldives. Read: “Maldives' underwater cabinet meeting was a sorry stunt “ By Christopher Booker , the many papers by Nils-Axel Morner (perhaps the only scientist who has studied sea levels and their change. “Sea Level Changes and Tsunamis, Environmental Stress and Migration Overseas. The Case of the Maldives and Sri Lanka” , Internationales Asienforum, Vol. 38 (2007), No. 3–4, pp. 353–374.

      Ernst - 2011-12-01 08:32

      @Robin: Consider the following scenario. There is something wrong with your heart. You go out and see 100 expert doctors. Out of the 100, 97% agree that if you dont go for traetment, you are going to die of a heart attack. So based on their consensus, it is advisable that you go for treatment. What you want to do is follow the other 3% because they are not 100% sure? Your argument makes absolutely NO sense.

      Ernst - 2011-12-01 08:36

      @Robin: To simply call me an alarmist when I am merely stating what 97%, of climate scientists, actively publishing in PEER-REVIEWED scientific journals, are saying is ludicrous. You havent provided me with any citations, to back up your claims, pointing to PEER-REVIEWED scientific literature.

      Ernst - 2011-12-01 10:09

      @ Robin: What is the impact factor of the journals that you are referring to? Are the scientists you listed climate scientists? What is the prestige of journals that their work is published in?

  • Deeteem - 2011-11-30 09:49

    If nobody gives a flying f*&k about resolutions taken at COP01, why are we still wasting all this money on CRAP17 !!!!!

      Manie - 2011-11-30 09:56

      How do we get rid of all governments (or give them a few small security jobs to do?)

  • Dewald - 2011-11-30 09:53

    'For countries that are historically responsible for the problem' - Listen Africa and listen well - the party is over, nobody is going to accept you culture of blaming anymore. Rather keep you mouths shut and start thinking how you plan to fund you HIV-drug and feeding (breeding?) programs from here on - you have now bitten almost every hand that was feeding and/or teaching you. Time to wake up and grow up - or perish....

  • Manie - 2011-11-30 09:57

    Dont tell me that Canada is finally gatvol of this nonsence (I'm impressed if that is the case), or have they perhaps already drank all the free whiskey?

  • Anakin - 2011-11-30 09:59

    The COP conferences' foundations are resting on a skewed paradigm, and will thus remain a farce so long as things like big industry are cleverly kept out of the picture. I'm talking about BHP Billiton & kie, the big electricity users with the big money and BIG CO2 carbon footprint. I have just been to the site [] where NO reference or encouragement is made towards SAVING electricity for these big companies. So WE switch off a few small appliances [my pc standby mode eats GW of power(sarcastic) ] while the aliminium smelters do as they please. I DARE the COP17 delegation to try and send a few observers to these industrial giants and see how far they get-they won't be allowed access to these facilities, I wonder why? The picture has been very carefully thought out to make the small individual consumer feel guilty,to buy 'green' stuff (money-making schemes) whilst avoiding the real big targets.To illustrate,what about the diesel-spewing trucks on the road? WHY do we ALLOW it? In Germany the truck will be CONfISCATED and held until acceptable repairs have been made and it's emission levels checked, after paying a heavy fine as well. Not here, NO. What is the carbon footprint of these unmaintained vehicles? So are the BHP Billiton smelters up to European standards and are they energy efficient? Yeah, we are not all blind and stupid, but the farce merrily continues.

      Craig - 2011-11-30 10:56

      What is the carbon footprint for the party the're all enjoying in Durban at the moment? what is the cost to the already grossly over-taxed honest citizens of SA?

      Ernst - 2011-11-30 11:01

      You are absolutely right. That is why COP17 should stand for Conference Of the Polluters.

      Ernst - 2011-11-30 11:03

      @Craig: If you are worried about carbon taxes, then invest in cleaner energy i.e. Hybrid or electric cars, solar, etc.

  • paul.maarman - 2011-11-30 10:04

    The only time we humans are compelled to anything is when are survival depends on it. Tell you what, lets just sit back and see who survives the next ice age...

      Ann - 2011-11-30 10:12

      Fair comment. However, my five cents worth goes like this: I believe that no one can deny there are some really odd weather patterns afoot. Whilst this is scientifically proven as being inevitable, there is also evidence that these changes have been sped up rather quickly during our life time. Our advancement could also indicate our downfall unless we try to change our extravagant ways one person at a time.

  • Claire - 2011-11-30 10:09

    This conference is a total waste of time and precious money... How much did South Africa spend on this crap? It could have gone to making the less fortunate South African's life better... End of the world here we come!!! WHAT A WASTE OF GOOD TIME AND REALLY GOOD MONEY!!!!

  • Gammat - 2011-11-30 10:11

    So the scam continues

  • stefan.vanderspuy - 2011-11-30 10:44

    Some countries, including prominent people/magazines, do not agree on the effect of greenhouse gases on global warming. On 28/11/2011 Andrew Kenny of Business Day wrote an article "Climate change ushers in a new age of superstition", effectively ridiculing carbon dioxide deduction efforts. Some prominent and respected scientist needs to stand up at one of these COP 17 meetings and spell out to the people, with temperatures and timelines, what awaits this world of ours if we continue abusing it at the rate we are currently doing. If they will listen...

      Craig - 2011-11-30 10:59

      There has been no major change in world climate for the past 15 years, why the party in Durban?

      Ernst - 2011-11-30 10:59

      Is businessday a peer-reviewed scientific journal?

  • David - 2011-11-30 19:13

    COP-OUT 17???

  • Marcellino - 2011-12-01 11:24

    It is just sad not only for Canada but for the world at large regards Colin

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