Canada was once one of the symbolic countries devoted to climate change. Despite the issue only getting worse, the country has decided to give up the title of green in an effort to save money and avoid financial penalties. Environmental Minister Peter Kent told reporters that Canada would be formally withdrawing from the Kyoto Protocol, an international environmental treaty aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
“As we’ve said, Kyoto for Canada is in the past,” Kent told reporters. “We are invoking our legal right to formally withdraw from Kyoto.”
Kent blamed Liberals for signing the treaty and not doing anything to implement it. He told reporters, “The Kyoto Protocol does not cover the world’s largest two emitters, United States and China, and therefore cannot work. It’s now clear that Kyoto is not the path forward to a global solution to climate change. If anything it’s an impediment.”
Kent’s announcement comes on the heels of climate talks and talks of a new treaty to replace Kyoto. 200 countries joined together proposing a new climate treaty by 2015. Kent believes that Canada will join in and support a new treaty. He claimed that the new treaty envisioned at Durban in South Africa is the path forward.
According to the Washington Post, Kent claims that by quitting Kyoto, “it allows us to continue to create jobs and growth in Canada.”
Several environmental groups are not pleased with Canada’s move to pull out of Kyoto. John Bennett, executive director of Sierra Club Canada, said, “Mr. Kent does not understand what he is sentencing our children to. Catastrophic climate change will cost them far more.”
Hannah McKinnon of the Climate Action Network Canada said in a statement, “it’s a total abdication of our responsibilities.”
Mike Huedma of Greenpeace Canada said in a statement, “The decision to leave Kyoto behind destabilizes the promise of action on the climate crisis. This is a further signal that the Harper government is more concerned about protecting polluters than people.”
Canada’s formal withdrawing from Kyoto will save the country approximately $14 billion in penalties, according to Kent. The penalties would have been charged for the country not meeting its target cuts in gas emissions. However, Megan Leslie, Opposition New Democrat lawmaker, disputes the dollar amount and the penalties claiming that the pull out of Kyoto saves Conservatives from reporting how far short Canada is from reaching its targets.
Leslie said, “It’s like we’re the kid in school who knows they’re gonna fail the class, so we have to drop it before that actually happens.”
Kent said, “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 agriculture sector and cutting heat to every home, office, hospital, factory and building in Canada.” He believes that is it just not possible for Canada to meet the targets.
The numbers don’t look so good either. In 2005, Canada was on the top 10 list of emitters and with a currently booming oil business the numbers are only bound to get worse.
Is Canada just trying to save face before the grades come in? Or is this a case of wanting to protect the polluters more than the people?