Canada's withdrawal from Kyoto Protocol irresponsible action

By Zhu Junqing, Zhang Xiaojun
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, December 14, 2011
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Canada Monday became the first country to pull out of the historic Kyoto Protocol, inescapably scarring the global anti-climate change efforts.

The Kyoto Protocol, adopted at the third session of the Conference of Parties (COP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 1997 in Kyoto, Japan, stipulates that developed countries should reduce their collective greenhouse emissions by 5.2 percent from 1990 levels during the first commitment period (2008-2012), primarily through meeting their national targets.

National targets range from an 8 percent reduction for the European Union (EU), over 7 percent for the United States, to 6 percent for Japan and Canada.

However, the United States refused to sign the protocol in 2001, and is the only developed country that has not ratified it after 2007. The U.S. rejection inevitably undermined the accord.

The move has cast a shadow over the global community, and has made some other developed signatories hesitate to cut their emissions.

To add insult to injury, Canada became the first to call it quits, with the deadline of the first commitment period approaching.

The biggest concern at this moment is whether other developed countries would follow suit.

Over the past four years, a drama has unfolded among developed countries over the emissions cuts and offering support to their developing counterparts.

The Umbrella Group, composed of Japan, Canada, Australia, the United States and other developed countries, wavered and even backed away from their positions under the excuse of "environmental integrity."

The best way to achieve consensus is having the United States and Canada go back to the international bargaining table.

Meanwhile, attention must be drawn to two fallacies.

The first one cited by Canadian Environment Minister Peter Kent is that emission cuts damage the economy.

Taking China as an example, 630 million tons of coal were saved in 2010, which was equal to cutting carbon dioxide emissions by over 1460 million tons, according to the white paper China's Policies and Actions for Addressing Climate Change 2011. China has implemented emissions cuts by rallying enterprises and social communities and in return has achieved steady development even amid the current crisis which hit the EU very badly.

The second fallacy is requiring China and India to have the same obligation as developed countries.

Actually, if per capita emissions in developed countries could descend to the levels in developing countries, it would significantly help the fight against global climate change.

In sum, any irresponsible action in the anti-climate change mission should be a cause for blame.

It is widely hoped that the United States and Canada will let reason prevail and join the rest of the world community in supporting the Kyoto Protocol.

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