Monday, December 6, 2010

Canada gets ready to walk away from Kyoto Protocol

By Brent Patterson
December 6, 2010

Environment minister John Baird
The Globe and Mail reports this morning that, "Federal Environment Minister John Baird arrives at the global climate summit (tomorrow) looking to administer last rites to the Kyoto Protocol, at least in its current form. But the funeral may have to wait for next year's session in South Africa."

Harper wants to end Kyoto Protocol

"For Prime Minister Stephen Harper, the end of Canada's commitment to Kyoto would achieve a long-standing goal, as he has opposed the accord since its inception in 1997 and distanced his government from it since taking office five years ago."

"Canada remains the only country to ratify Kyoto and then publicly renounce its 2012 emission targets -- a move the Harper government took almost immediately after taking office when then-environment-minister Rona Ambrose told an international gathering there was no chance of lowering emissions to 6 per cent below 1990 levels."

(In fact, Canada's emissions increased by about 26 percent between 1990 and 2007 and continue to grow.)

"Officially, the government denies it is aiming to kill Kyoto. However, it vocally supports the political deal reached last year in Copenhagen that would change key elements of Kyoto by demanding binding emission targets from major developing countries."

New draft texts, Kyoto on life support

"As ministers and some leaders arrive for the summit's second week, negotiators remain far apart on major issues. The conflicts were spelled out as competing options in draft texts released on the weekend."

"The European Union has been siding with China, India and other developing countries to demand a second period of emission reduction under Kyoto. Canada is clearly reluctant, in part because it would be penalized post 2012 for its failure to meet previous targets."

"Last week, Japan said it would not make new commitments under Kyoto unless there was a comprehensive deal that includes all emitters."

(The Council of Canadians was the first to make public that Canada had joined Japan and Russia in opposing an extension of the Kyoto Protocol.)

A face-saving deal in the works

"Now the parties are negotiating a face-saving deal that would delay any final decision on Kyoto commitments until next year in South Africa, but the treaty is clearly on life support."

Little political risk for Harper

"Politically, Mr. Harper appears confident that he can walk away from Kyoto with little electoral damage. The Conservatives killed an opposition-supported climate bill in the Senate that would require the government to come up with a plan to reduce emissions to 25 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020 -- essentially putting Canada on a Kyoto track -- and encountered little political backlash."

"Still, there are political risks for Mr. Harper. Quebec Premier Jean Charest arrives in Cancun on Monday and, at the very least, will highlight Quebeckers' support for climate action and unhappiness with Mr. Harper's approach. ...And voters in Quebec are more supportive of action on climate change than those in the rest of the country."

Alberta's Renner arrives on Tuesday

"On Tuesday, Alberta Environment Minister Rob Renner arrives, and environmental groups hope to portray Ottawa and Alberta as colluding in a policy that sees oil sands expansion trumping climate policy."

No comments:

Post a Comment