Canada formally withdraws from Kyoto Protocol

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Canadian Environment Minister Peter Kent announced on Monday that his country has formally withdrawn from the Kyoto Protocol.

Canadian Environment Minister Peter Kent [File photo]

Canadian Environment Minister Peter Kent [File photo] 

"We are invoking Canada's legal right to formally withdraw from Kyoto," Kent made the statement after he returned home from the Durban Climate Change talks. "This decision formalizes what we have said since 2006 that we will not implement the Kyoto Protocol."

Cananda's decision to pull out of  the Kyoto Protocol means that the country needn't have to pay penalties of up to CAN$14 billion (US$13.6 billion) for failing to meet its targets.

"It is now clear that Kyoto is not the path forward for a global solution to climate change," Kent said. "Instead, it is an impediment." 

"Kyoto - for Canada - is in the past," Kent said.

Canada had to inform the United Nations by the end of the year of its decision to leave the Kyoto process, or it would be legally bound to pay the penalty. 

He told reporters he waited until after the Durban conference had ended because he had told a senior UN official that he did not want to disrupt the negotiations in South Africa.

Kent blamed the "Liberal government" of former Prime Minister Jean Chretien for signing the accord without taking action to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

"But because a previous government signed on to Kyoto in 1997 with no intention of ever meeting targets - then did nothing for years - Canada was lagging well behind by 2006," Kent said.  

"Under Kyoto Canada is facing radical and irresponsible choices if we are to avoid punishing multi-billion dollar payments," Kent commented.

"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," Kent continued.

The Conservative government, elected in 2006, has promised to cut emissions to 17 percent lower than 2005. These reductions are to be made by 2020. 

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