Canada's Conservative government is canceling a US$1.5 million pledge made by the previous Liberal government to help developing countries cut greenhouse emissions under the rules laid down by the Kyoto Protocol, local media reported on Sunday.
The pledge was made at a United Nations conference in Montreal last December. The money would have gone to the treaty's Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), which allows industrialized countries to earn credits by investing in emissions-cutting projects in the Third World.
"Taxpayers' dollars will not be spent on international credits," said Ryan Sparrow, spokesman for Environment Minister Rona Ambrose, in an interview with Canadian Press (CP).
"That's what our government's position has been since taking office," he said.
Canada was among 20 industrialized countries which collectively pledged more than US$8 million for the CDM. Canada's pledge was said to be the biggest, made by any country.
As of June the CDM had about 800 projects in the pipeline, and the UN Climate Change Secretariat estimates it will generate more than 1 billion tons of emissions reduction by the end of 2012.
Cancellation of the pledge highlights Prime Minister Stephen Harper's ambivalence toward the protocol, CP pointed out.
Harper has rejected the Kyoto emissions-cutting targets as not achievable but has not pulled out of the treaty. He told a British news conference in July that Canada remains "fully engaged" in the Kyoto process.
Days later, at the G-8 summit in Moscow, Harper endorsed a G-8 communique supporting the Kyoto Protocol and noting the importance of the CDM for the protocol's success.
Canadian environmentalists were dismayed to hear the news. "The CDM is so important and it's doing such good work," said Green Party Leader Elizabeth May.
"It's economically rational (and) it makes sense because it's away of outreach to developing countries to get them involved in binding targets," the leader said.
(Xinhua News Agency September 11, 2006)