In Unprecedented Move, Harper Government Pulls Canada out Kyoto Protocol

Stephen Harper called Kyoto a “socialist scheme to suck money out of wealth-producing nations

Wealth-producing Nations Condemn Canada’s Withdrawal


CAPE TOWN, Dec 14, 2011 (IPS)

Barely 24 hours after it signed a new global climate change agreement in Durban, South Africa, Canada became on Monday the first country to formally withdraw from the Kyoto Protocol, the only legally binding treaty to reduce emissions causing climate change.

The 17th Conference of the Parties (COP17) concluded last Sunday with an agreement called the Durban Platform, which includes a consensus agreement for a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol after the first expires at the end of 2012.

Canada’s government under Stephen Harper essentially agreed to a continuation of Kyoto only to announce formal withdrawal after Canadian Environment Minister Peter Kent arrived back safely in Canada on Monday.

“Kyoto, for Canada, is in the past,” Kent said in Durban on Dec. 7. Still, he insisted in a statement on Monday, “Canada went to Durban in a spirit of good will.”

Despite the so-called good will, Canada is well known as a pariah on climate and environmental issues, having being judged as the most uncooperative country for the last five climate treaty COPs.

Kent brought a “reckless arrogance with him to Durban, where he’s maintained a hard line… and fought hard to put polluters before people”, according to Climate Action Network, an international coalition of environmental non-governmental organisations (NGOs) attending COP17.

Canada’s withdrawal comes as no surprise. Mirroring the views of the fossil fuel industry, the Harper government has expressed disdain for the Kyoto Protocol. In a fundraising letter prior to coming to power in 2006, Harper called it a “socialist scheme to suck money out of wealth-producing nations”.

Under the Kyoto Protocol, Canada agreed to reduce its carbon emissions by six percent by 2012 in comparison to its 1990 emissions.
In Durban Canada wins Fossil of Year for 5th Year
While Canadians individually cut emissions at the urging of previous governments, the enormous expansion of emission-laden tar sands operations inflated Canada’s emissions by 24 percent above 1990 emissions.

On Monday, Kent said that for Canada to meet emissions targets would entail taking every vehicle off the road and cutting the heat in every building in the country. He did not mention reducing emissions from the tar sands.

“I regret that Canada has announced it will withdraw and am surprised over its timing,” said Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), under which climate negotiations like COP17 are held. Continue reading