Straight Talk
Goldstein: Dumping Kyoto is Canada's right

A media report Canada will dump the Kyoto accord in late December was described by Environment Minister Peter Kent as an “option” Monday.


TORONTO - Well, it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

In Canada, this means the annual United Nations gabfest on global warming is getting underway in an exotic locale - this year Durban, South Africa.

And so it's time for the opposition parties, including party of one Elizabeth May, along with other environmentalists, to blame Canada for the failure of the Kyoto accord and efforts to save the planet from global warming.

Expect a new round of "fossil fool" awards for Canada in Durban, with gusts of political indignation ranging from tropical storm to hurricane force heading our way.

After all, it happens at this time every year.

The source of this year's festival of indignation is a media report Canada will pull out of the Kyoto accord in late December, which Environment Minister Peter Kent described as an "option" Monday, while refusing to say whether the government will do it.

Now let's talk about the real world.

Canada's position is nothing new.

It's that we won't sign a successor agreement to the Kyoto accord, which expires at the end of 2012, unless it commits the developing world, including the world's biggest greenhouse gas emitter, China, to emission reduction targets, which it doesn't at present.

Canada is not alone in this view. We share it with other developed countries, such as Japan, Russia and the United States.

Ironically, the U.S., the world's number two emitter, also doesn't have to do anything to lower its emissions under Kyoto.

That's because the U.S., unlike Canada, never ratified Kyoto and has refused to do so ever since the Bill Clinton/Al Gore administration. Yep. Gore.

Why? For the same reason Canada is refusing to commit to Kyoto's successor now.

The U.S. has never ratified Kyoto because it makes no demands on the developing world to cut emissions, not just by China, but India, Brazil and scores of other developing nations.

This annual opposition/environmental activist allegation that Canada, responsible for 2% of global emissions (the oil sands account for one/tenth of 1%) is the key to success or failure of Kyoto and efforts to save the planet from runaway climate change, is absurd.

Kyoto failed not because Canada didn't meet its emission targets.

It failed because it didn't require the vast majority of the world's nations - including China and the U.S. which are responsible for a combined 40% of global emissions - to reduce their emissions at all.

Canada failed to meet its Kyoto targets because the Liberals under Jean Chretien recklessly signed us up for them, without having any idea of the huge economic hit it would mean for a big, cold, northern, sparsely populated, oil and natural gas producing nation like Canada.

We know Chretien had no idea of what he was doing because after he signed and ratified Kyoto, the Liberals did nothing to implement it.

By the time Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the Conservatives took power in 2006, we were so far behind our Kyoto target that meeting it would have cratered our economy.

Since then, the Conservatives have done what the Liberals used to do on Kyoto - pay lip service to it, while ignoring it.

Far from being criticized by all the usual suspects, Harper and Kent should be commended for starting to talk honestly about the farcical nature of the Kyoto accord and that Canada is not prepared to participate in the process any longer, unless global warming starts to be addressed globally.

Unlike the opposition parties and the environmental movement, they've decided Canadians can handle the truth.

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