After raising greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent over the past two decades -- that's four times faster than the United States's rate -- Canada is abandoning its commitment to the Kyoto Protocol.The country's environment minister Peter Kent made the announcement on Monday, making Canada the first country to formally renounce the agreement to curb global warming. Believe it or not, he blamed both China and the U.S. for his country's change of heart. "The Kyoto Protocol does not cover the world’s largest two emitters, United States and China, and therefore cannot work," Kent said during a gathering of negotiators from 200 countries in South Africa over the weekend. "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 comments must sound hypocritical to some. On Sunday, the CBC News's Robert Sheppard acknowledged that China did present a problem to the Kyoto Protocol's hope to succeed but argued that Canada wasn't without fault. Despite its original commitment to reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 5.2 percent from 1990 to 2012, Canada's COS levels had actually risen about 20 percent by 2010, as Yes Magazine's Brooke Jarvis pointed out on Twitter. During the same time period, the U.S. CO2 emissions rose by a comparatively paltry 5 percent. Which brings us to Canada's optics problem. Sheppard explains:
When the former Liberal government signed on to Kyoto, perhaps naively, in 1997, it was with an eye to getting the then ultra-consuming U.S. on board as well. But our commitment became caught up in domestic politics and we essentially bobbed and weaved to the point where it is now hard to know where we really stand on emissions control. …
It's a legitimate argument: China needs to step up. But how do you make it with a straight face when you haven't come anywhere close to meeting your own international obligations and you also want to turn around and sell China as much oil sands petroleum as it is willing to take.
The Associated Press notes that Canada has the world's third largest oil reserve, behind Saudi Arabia and Venezuela. Just saying.