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Kyoto Protocol departure leaves Canadians cold

By Tierney Smith

It’s official, Canada has left the Kyoto Protocol.

Sadly, it’s not a massive shock.

The government announced its intentions to leave the global treaty on climate change last December, and showed no inclination during the recent Doha round of negotiations to backtrack.

Few local news outlets covered the final withdrawal, and despite some rumblings on Twitter, there were no major protests in those final days.

Perhaps much of the environmental sector were resigned to the decision by this weekend, hence the silence, but there were some groups reacting to the decision.

Stephan Taylor, Director of the National Citizens Coalition – a lobby group for free enterprise – was quick to show his support for the government’s move.

Producing a diagram for the occasion, Taylor wrote on his Facebook page: “One year ago, Canada declared it was opting-out of the Kyoto Protocol, beginning our one year exit from this money drain. Today is the first day of our freedom. I know I LIKE this, do you?”

It’s Canada’s first day out of the Kyoto protocol. Here’s a little something I whipped up for the occasion: on.fb.me/U39fxB#cndpoli

— Stephen Taylor (@stephen_taylor) December 15, 2012

Canadian politicians were also quick to set out their own positions.

With an election coming in 2015, they appear to be drawing the battle lines on what could end up a strong campaigning point.

Some MPs were quick to show their support for the decision. Tory MP Rob Anders called the Protocol a “tremendous waste of resources.”

He said that Canada’s withdrawal does not threaten their credibility but in fact improves it. “We were the first to say, the emperor wears no clothes,” he said.

Day of shame

Elizabeth May, the country’s only Green MP, called the event “a day of shame” for the Canadian people.

“It is the first treaty in the history of Canada that we have ever ratified and then repudiated and quit,” she said. “This decision threatens Canada’s standing in the world and, more importantly, our children’s future.”

“This is a day of shame. Our children and grandchildren will harshly look back on Harper’s years in power as a period of reckless disregard for future generations. Harper’s Conservatives present us with a fake contradiction between environmental protection and a healthy economy.”

Ahead of the Doha talks May warned RTCC that Canada’s unpunished withdrawal from the Protocol had also threatened the treaty’s integrity as well as that of any future climate deal.

She said it would allow other nations to follow suit – and sadly she has been proved correct.

Since Canada’s announcement, New Zealand, Japan and Russia have all said they would not participate in the treaty’s second commitment period. Belarus, Ukraine and Kazakhstan are likely to abandon ship shortly.

But to date, Canada is still the only country to have left without completing the first commitment period.

Megan Leslie, from the NPD opposition party warned that the move would see Canada left behind as other countries begin their transition to greener economies.

“While the rest of the world is moving forward in the fight against climate change, Canada is falling behind,” she said. “We are leaving a huge ecological, economic and social debt to future generations.

“New Democrats are more determined than ever to fight against the Conservatives’ disastrous attacks on the environment… Today, we have nothing to celebrate. Let us work together to replace the Conservatives in 2015 and build a fairer, greener and more prosperous country.”

Perhaps most saddened by Canada’s withdrawal, however, is Liberal MP Stephane Dion, on of the main players in Canada becoming a signatory of the Protocol.

He loved this treaty so much he named his dog Kyoto. “I’m sad to say the dog is in better shape than the agreement it was name after,” he told the Toronto Sun.

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