Canada Formally Withdraws
From The Kyoto Protocol

In December 2011, Canada formally withdraws from the Kyoto Protocol.

To this day, Canada is the only country to have backed out of this international treaty.

International Outrage

Unsurprisingly, several countries have criticized Canada shortly after the Conservative Party under Stephen Harper announced their decision.

Notably, Japan’s environment minister, Goshi Hosono urged Canada to remain in the accord.

Also, a spokesman for China's foreign ministry declared that the withdrawal was "regrettable and flies in the face of the efforts of the international community.”

Background Info on the Kyoto Protocol

As of August 2011, 191 nations have signed and ratified the Kyoto Protocol.

This treaty, initially adopted on December 1997 in Kyoto, aimed at reducing greenhouse gases in order to mitigate global warming.

Furthermore, it is a protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change with the goal of achieving the "stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system.”

Targets and Obligations

Often, countries would have to set targets by lowering their emissions to their annual levels in the year 1990.

To do so, governments would have to primarily reduce emissions of carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and sulfur hexafluoride from industries, transportation, agriculture and infrastructure by deploying new green technology (see alternative energy).

This international environmental treaty officially started on February 16, 2005.

Others Not in the Treaty

However, although Canada formally withdraws from the Kyoto Protocol, it is not the only nation to not ratify the treaty.

Although major developed nations had to meet targets for reducing emissions, mandates were not imposed on developing countries such as Brazil, China, India and South Africa.

Also, the United States never ratified the Kyoto Protocol in the first place.

Criticism from Environment Minister

In response to critics, Canada’s Environment Minister Peter Kent asserts that “Kyoto is not the path forward for a global solution for climate change."

More specifically, he criticizes the high costs to Canadians and how a great percentage of the global population was omitted from the treaty.

In addition, he stated that Canada will help create a new agreement that includes targets for developing nations, particularly China and India.

Similarly, George W. Bush was opposed to the treaty in 2000 and said: "it exempts 80% of the world, including major population centers such as China and India, from compliance, and would cause serious harm to the US economy."

Not a Surprise

For many politicians and environmentalists, Canada’s formal withdrawal was not surprising at all.

Firstly, Stephen Harper once referred to the Kyoto Protocol as a “socialist scheme” back in 2002.

Moreover, Canada has recently embarked in one of the greatest environmental disasters of all time: the oil sands in Alberta

It should also be noted that if Canada stayed in the treaty, it would be forced to pay huge fines (in billions) for its failure to meet its targets.

Better Times Ahead?

Hopefully, a future United Nations Climate Change Conference will deploy a new treaty that will include all nations.

Only then will Canada be on a road to a sustainable future and redeem itself for being the only country to have backed out of the Kyoto Accord.

Although Canada formally withdraws from the Kyoto Protocol, it is not too late.

See Copenhagen Accord

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