Canada’s decision to withdraw from the Kyoto Protocol on global climate change has elicited widespread criticism from other nations and environmentalist groups.
The French foreign ministry condemned Canada’s move.
A spokesman for the ministry, Bernard Valero, told reporters: Canada's announcement that it is withdrawing from the Kyoto protocol is bad news for the fight against climate change. It is out of the question to relax our efforts [on global warming].”
China’s foreign ministry told reporters that Canada’s decision was regrettable and flies in the face of the efforts of the international community, according to Reuters. Goshi Hosono, the Japanese environment minister, also requested that Canada rescind its move.
Even the tiny Polynesian island of Tuvalu, which is at risk from rising sea levels, expressed its anger at Canada.
For a vulnerable country like Tuvalu, it’s an act of sabotage on our future, Ian Fry, Tuvalu's lead negotiator told Reuters.
Withdrawing from the Kyoto Protocol is a reckless and totally irresponsible act.
The environmentalist group Greenpeace also blasted Canada for pulling out of Kyoto Protocol.
In a letter to Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Mike Hudema, a representative of Greenpeace Canada, wrote: The Harper government has imposed a death sentence on many of the world's most vulnerable populations by pulling out of Kyoto.”
Canada’s pull-out comes just days after a UN climate conference in Durban, South Africa in which 194 nations agreed to negotiate terms of a pact that will ultimately lead to taking measures to slow the rate of climate change.
Canada is the first nation to exit the Kyoto treaty, which was adopted in 1997 as a coordinated international effort to battle global warming. Under terms of the pact, nations are encouraged to undergo voluntary measures to cut carbon emissions.
However, the accord only applied bindingly to advanced nations, not developing countries like India and China. The United States had also rejected ratifying the treaty.
Canadian environment minister Peter Kent explained the pull-out by complaining that ''Kyoto is not the path forward for a global solution for climate change. Kyoto, for Canada, is in the past, and as such we are invoking our legal right to withdraw from Kyoto.”
Kent suggested that greenhouse gas emissions will continue to rise even with imposed curbs since the U.S. and China are not bound by Kyoto.
“The Kyoto Protocol does not cover the world’s largest two [greenhouse gas] emitters, the United States and China, and therefore cannot work,” he said.
“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 also cited the huge financial costs that Kyoto would burden Canada with -- to the tune of $13.6-billion.
That's $1,600 from every Canadian family - that's the Kyoto cost to Canadians, that was the legacy of an incompetent Liberal government, he said.
“The loss of thousands of jobs, or the transfer of $14 billion from Canadian taxpayers to other countries; the equivalent of $1600 from every Canadian family, with absolutely no impact on emissions or the environment. That’s the Kyoto cost to Canadians.”
At least one major country, Australia, defended Canada’s decision.
The Canadian decision to withdraw from the protocol should not be used to suggest Canada does not intend to play its part in global efforts to tackle climate change, a spokesman for the Australian government told the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper.
Richard Black, the environment correspondent for BBC News, wrote: “That Canada would withdraw from the Kyoto Protocol has been the worst-kept recent secret in climate change politics. On taking office in 2007, Stephen Harper's government found their predecessors, for all their green rhetoric, had done little to cut Canada's emissions.”
Black added: “A burning question at the recent UN talks in Durban [South Africa] was whether Japan, Russia, Australia or New Zealand would follow Canada's lead - which would effectively leave just European countries inside. For the moment, it appears unlikely, as all like the flexibility Kyoto offers for meeting emission targets. But it's not impossible.”