Canada Drops Out Of Kyoto Protocol

The worst kept secret in Canadian politics became official yesterday when the Harper government announced its withdrawal from the Kyoto Protocol. In a statement made in the foyer of the House of Commons, Environment Minister Peter Kent noted that “Kyoto is not the path forward for a global solution to climate change” and indicated that “Canada will work towards a legally binding agreement to address global emissions that allows us to continue creating jobs and economic growth.”

What Would Staying in Kyoto Mean for Canada?

In his statement, Kent said that the Conservative government has “taken action since 2006 to make real reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.” He repeated this several times, without providing any examples of those actions or statistics on the resulting (non existing) decrease in emissions. However, when it comes to what Canada would have to do in order to meet the targets under Kyoto, he had no problem giving specifics:

To meet the targets under Kyoto for 2012 would be the equivalent of:

  • Either removing every car, truck, ATV, tractor, ambulance, police car and vehicle of every kind from Canadian roads
  • Or, closing down the entire farming and agricultural sector and cutting heat to every home, office, hospital, factory and building in Canada.

The cost of not taking this type of radical and irresponsible action?

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 no impact on emissions or the environment.

That’s the Kyoto cost to Canadians.

Green Party leader Elizabeth May disagrees with Kent’s statement. In a Green Party media release she said: “It is simply outrageous disinformation that there is a $14 billion cost to staying in Kyoto.  Staying in the Kyoto Protocol will not cost us a cent.”

The Cost of Rising Emissions

May goes on to explain that it will, in fact, cost us billions “if we do nothing to address climate change.” According to the Green Party:

The National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy, in its report “Paying the Price: The Economic Impacts of Climate Change for Canada”, estimates that the cost of Canada’s failure to act on climate change will range from $5 billion per year by 2020 to as high as $91 billion per year by 2050.  Impacts on forests and coastal areas will be particularly felt in terms of hits to the Canadian economy.  An increase in flooding, wildfires, heat waves, and poor air quality has already resulted in increased death and destruction of property. Canada’s insurance sector is seeing costs from storms and wildfire escalating rapidly.

The difference, of course, is that Conservative Party voters are likely more sympathetic when the government needs to use taxpayer dollars to respond to a flood or forest fire (especially when it is in their backyard) than they are when the government uses taxpayer dollars to invest in projects that will reduce emissions (especially if that means less Big Oil and more green energy).

Hopes of Progress Going Up in a Cloud of Emissions

Canadians who thought that a legally binding agreement such as Kyoto would force the government to take action are sorely disappointed. Not only is the government not taking action to reduce emissions (according to Associated Press, Canadian carbon emissions are up 35% since 1990, when they were targeted to be 6% lower than 1990 levels by 2012), but they are also violating Canadian law by withdrawing from Kyoto.

The Harper government promised to be “tough on crime.” Maybe there will be some room in the new jails for the environmental criminals to join the marijuana growers.

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Photo credit: ojbyrne on flickr


.3 years ago

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Richard Lacroix
Richard Lacroix7 years ago

its just another example of Harpers its my way or the highway attitude when will the bullying stop how are we ever gonna get kids to stop bullying when the person voted into power is the biggest bully of all thats why him & Ford in toronto are such great friends another bully voted in people have to start thinking about watching what we ask for because then your stuck with them when we give them such a big majority

v s.
v s7 years ago

I do feel sorry for the thousands of decent Canadians. The Canadian government does not give a £$%$£ about the environment. They think because they have a vast country they can do what they like without any repercussions. They are systematically trashing their own country. When will they get the message that THERE IS NO PLANET B

Jamie Clemons
Jamie Clemons7 years ago

Its official we are all scr*wed

Victoria Pitchford
Vicky P7 years ago

Every other country pollutes also, the US isn't a part of it, India isn't, Japan isn't. Would it be better if they joined again, and said they will do, but don't end up doing it?

Myriam G.
Myriam G7 years ago

That's it. Harper has finally done it.
I am now officially ASHAMED TO BE CANADIAN.
I am ashamed we couldn't do anything to stop such a government from being elected!

Christa Leduc
Christa Leduc7 years ago

Harper should be put in jail to rot. I am a Canadian citizen and used to live in Toronto. Some years ago I went back to Toronto for a visit. The air pollution was so bad you couldn't see the sun, people were asked to stay inside and not use their cars. What kind of life is this? I feel sorry for the people who have to live there.

K s Goh
KS Goh7 years ago

Thanks for the article.

Patrick F.
Patrick f7 years ago

Michael C. "China is the dominant player. The country is on track to add 562 coal-fired plants - nearly half the world total of plants expected to come online in the next eight years. That is 6 per month, I am sorry to say, all is lost."

And where will China get the coal to burn in these plants? .....Canada, the real reason Harper dropped out, the revenue from selling coal to China. We ARE hooped! If Harper has one moral fiber in his entire being, I doubt he will ever show it.

rene davis
irene davis7 years ago

Pretty sad.