December 13, 2011
Canada Officially Withdraws From Kyoto Protocol
Canada became the first country to declare it was formally exiting the Kyoto protocol on Monday, making itself a target of criticism from China and other countries.
Canada decided to withdraw from the international efforts to combat climate change, which is a decision that will save the country billions of dollars.
The Kyoto protocol is the only global treaty that sets down targeted curbs in global emissions and was adopted in 1997.
"We are invoking Canada's legal right to formally withdraw from Kyoto," Environment Minister Peter Kent said after returning home from a marathon UN climate conference in South Africa (COP17).
"Kyoto is not the path forward for a global solution to climate change," Kent said. "If anything, it's an impediment.
"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."
China, the world's largest carbon emitter, was not happy with the move and foreign ministry spokesman Liu Weimin described Canada's decision as being "against the efforts of the international community," and "regrettable."
"We hope Canada will face up to its responsibilities and obligations, honor its commitments and actively participate in relevant international cooperation against climate change," Liu told a regular media briefing in Beijing.
China was not the only country disappointed by Canada's withdrawal. Japan said the country's move was "disappointing" and that it was "indispensable that each country makes efforts" on climate change.
"I hope Canada will address the issue in a forward-looking manner," Japan's Environment Minister Goshi Hosono told reporters.
Canada agreed under the Kyoto Protocol to reduce CO2 emission to 6.0 percent below 1990 levels by 2012, but its emissions have increased since then.
By pulling out of the Kyoto before 2012, Canada will be able to avoid paying penalties of up to $13.6 billion for missing its targets.
Kent also said that major impacts on Canada's economy will be avoided by withdrawing from the treaty.
"Under Kyoto, Canada is facing radical and irresponsible choices if we're to avoid punishing multi-billion-dollar payments," Kent told reporters, noting that Canada produces barely two percent 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."
He said that Canada would continue to try to reduce its emissions under a domestic plan that calls for a 20 percent cut from 2006 levels by 2020.
The latest data last year showed that Canadian carbon emissions were currently up over 35 percent from 1990.
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