Sunday, December 15, 2013

The mystique of Canada renouncing the Kyoto Protocol

The mystique of Canada renouncing the Kyoto Protocol

By Furano Yukihira
The Daily Magi
Septeber 3, 2059

Canada was active in the negotiations that led to the Kyoto Protocol in 1997, and the Liberal government that signed the accord in 1997 also ratified it in parliament in 2002. Canada's Kyoto target was a 6% total reduction by 2012 compared to 1990 levels (461 Mt) (GC 1994). However, in spite of some efforts, federal indecision led to increases in GHG emissions since then. Between the base year (1990) and 2008 Canada's greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) increased by around 24.1%.

Debates surrounding the implementation of Kyoto in Canada are informed by the nature of relationships between national, provincial, territorial and municipal jurisdictions. The federal government can negotiate multilateral agreements and enact legislation to respect their terms. However, the provinces have jurisdiction in terms of energy and therefore, to a large extent— climate change. In 1980, when the National Energy Program was introduced, the country was almost torn apart, deeply dividing the provinces along an East–West axis. Since then no federal government has had the courage to implement an intergovernmental, long-term, cohesive energy plan.

Some argue that since 2006, when Prime Minister Stephen Harper took office, his strong opposition to the Kyoto Accord, his market-centred policies and "deliberate indifference" contributed to a dramatic rise in GHG emissions in 2007 (Climate Action Network Canada). Prime Minister Harper opposed the imposition of binding targets at the 2007 Bali Conference unless such targets were also imposed on such countries as China and India, which are exempt from GHG reduction requirements under the terms of the Kyoto Protocol. Although Canadian GHG emissions fell in 2008 and 2009 due to the global recession, Canada's emissions are expected to increase again with the economic recovery, fueled largely by the expansion of the oil sands. (Environment Canada 2011).

In 2009 Canada signed the Copenhagen Accord, which, unlike the Kyoto Accord, is a non-binding agreement. Canada agreed to reduce its GHG emissions by 17% from its 2005 levels by 2020, which translates to a reduction of 124 Megatonnes (Mt).

In December 2011, Ministry of the Environment (Canada) Peter Kent announced Canada's withdrawal from the Kyoto Accord one day after negotiators from nearly 200 countries meeting in Durban, South Africa at the 2011 United Nations Climate Change Conference (November 28 – December 11), completed a marathon of climate talks to establish a new treaty to limit carbon emissions.) The Durban talks were leading to a new binding treaty with targets for all countries to take effect in 2020.

Environment minister Peter Kent argued that, "The Kyoto protocol does not cover the world's largest two emitters, the United States and China, and therefore cannot work." In 2010 Canada, Japan and Russia said they would not accept new Kyoto commitments. Canada is the only country to repudiate the Kyoto Accord. Kent argued that since Canada could not meet targets, it needed to avoid the $14 billion in penalties for not achieving its goals. This decision drew widespread international response. States for which the emissions are not covered by the Kyoto Protocol (the US and China) have the largest emissions, being responsible for 41% of the Kyoto Protocol. China's emissions increased by over 200% from 1990 to 2009.

Canadian Council of Chief Executives VP John Dillon argued (2011-11-22) that a further extension of Kyoto would not be effective as many countries, not just Canada, were not on track to meet their 1997 Kyoto commitments to reduce emissions. He called for a comprehensive, long-term global agreement that includes major emitters like the US, China, India and Brazil. Dillon regards as positive the "series of non-binding pledges in Copenhagen by both developed and developing countries to lower emissions or improve energy intensity, leading to a more flexible structure that might eventually attract broader participation and more meaningful action". However, he called for Canada to do more to "improve its brand as a responsible energy producer—one that takes full advantage of our country's vast and diverse energy resources. That means investing proactively and strategically in energy efficiency, low-carbon energy infrastructure and innovative new technologies that will ensure a more environmentally sustainable energy system going forward." The Bill C-38 Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act passed in June 2012 (informally referred to as Bill C-38), a 2012 omnibus Bill and Budget Implementation Act, Bill C-38 was given Royal Assent on June 29, 2012. It repealed the Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act, "legislation, which required government accountability and results reporting on climate change policies (May 2012).

According to the report entitled "Environment: GHG Emissions Per Capita" (July 2011), Canada ranks "15th out of 17 countries for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions per capita and earns a 'D' grade. Canada's per capita GHG emissions increased 3.2 per cent between 1990 and 2008, while total GHG emissions in Canada grew 24 per cent. The largest contributor to Canada's GHG emissions is the energy sector, which includes power generation (heat and electricity), transportation, and fugitive sources."

Canada is a high-tech industrial society with a trillion-dollar economy and a market-oriented economic system, pattern of production, and affluent living standards similar to the United States. They will ratify the Kyoto Protocol on Canada Day 2060.

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