The Kyoto Protocol was drawn up at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change with the aim of fighting global warming. It was first adopted in 1997 in Kyoto, Japan and has since earned 191 state signatures. All who sign it legally agree to reduce, before 2012, their carbon emission by 6% from their 1990 emission level. It is currently the only legally binding accord that forces countries to reduce their carbon gas emissions, but it isnât perfect. In fact many of the largest polluting countries such as the US, India, China and Brazil arenât included in the agreement.
Canada are now using this excuse to justify their own withdrawal from the treaty as Environment Minister Peter Kent has stated that âtheir (the other countries) exclusion is part of the reason Canada is looking to withdraw from the accord.â
But it is almost too easy to see through this petty excuse. The real reason is that, like many countries, Canada has failed to reach the Kyoto emission targets; in fact their emissions have increased by about 30% since 1990. Coupled with the future economic benefits that their hugely polluting tar sands can bring to the country, it is obvious that Canada wants to withdraw so that they can continue to exploit the tar sands, regardless of the environmental damage and with out the legal ramifications from the UN. They are basically admitting that they are going to âbreak the lawâ and want to first remove themselves from the jurisdiction of that law to avoid punishment.
This has clearly raised some questions into Canadaâs commitment to environmental issues.
As a Global meeting to discuss the accord got underway this week in Durban, South Africa, Kent called the original protocol "one of the biggest blunders" the liberal government ever made and said his (conservative) government is committed to a "realistic" plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. He said that the government is in the final stage of writing new regulations for the coal-fired electricity industry, and have begun consultations with the oilsands, steel, cement, and gas industries, but he is adamant that Canada "will not make a second commitment to Kyoto.â
Sameer Vasta, of News.sympatico.ca, wrote that âA simple national strategy is not enough: our country (Canada) should be at the forefront of the international community to create and enforce legally-binding accords to fight climate change. Kyoto may not have been the answer, but it was an attempt; withdrawing without proposing a new global solution is gutless.â
Rather than withdraw or avoid the Kyoto Protocol, these powerful countries should provide alternatives, leading the way forward to a cleaner future, rather than limping away from current attempts.
Though not a surprise, the news will anger poor countries that say the rich are reneging on pledges made 14 years ago when the protocol was signed.
As South African President Jacob Zuma said, "In these talks, states, parties will need to look beyond their national interests to find a global solution for the common good and benefit of all humanity." Global warming affects everyone, and no one country or economy is big enough to avoid it. It is a global problem and therefore requires a global decision on the solution, until then we cannot hope to tackle it.
The EU and many smaller developing states desire to start talks on a new accord in Durban, with the plan to reach an agreement by 2015 that will aim to cut emissions by 2020. However the US, India and Brazil (some of the worldâs worst greenhouse gas emitters) all want to delay the talks until at least 2015, even though many reports, including one by the IEA, have stated that in order to keep the global average temperature rise below 2C, emissions must start to fall by 2020 at the latest. In light of this it would seem that these countries want to selfishly develop their own economies rather than help save their own planet.
One of the main stumbling points at the negotiation talks is the division between developing and industrial nations. The larger nations donât wish to make huge cuts to their emission levels due to the negative economic impacts, but it is generally the smaller nations that stand to loose the most from a continued increase in the global average temperature.
Selwyn Hart, the speaker for the Alliance of Small Island States (Aosis) declared his fears that insufficient action will result in the âextinctionâ of some of the islands. He said that, âAt the heart of any agreement should be the principle that no country is expendable,â and that, âIt's morally and ethically indefensible to sign an agreement that will result in the demise of a single nation state.â
Too be fair, some of the countries abstaining from the Kyoto Protocol are only doing so in the hope that a fairer accord will be written. At the moment most of the burden to reduce carbon emissions is placed upon the industrial nations, leaving developing countries such as; China, Brazil, India and South Africa to grow with little pressure to move towards low-carbon economies. American chief delegate Jonathan Pershing has said that the United States shuns the Kyoto Protocol, but not the idea. They will accept a legally binding emissions limit in the future as long as all major emitters took on equal legal obligations. That seems reasonable!
By. James Burgess of Oilprice.com