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Report: Canada Wants to Scrap Kyoto

Canada’s The Globe and Mail reports that, according to private instructions to Canadian negotiators in Bonn, Germany, Canada will not support attempts by other countries to set deeper emission-reduction targets for the Kyoto Protocol’s second phase.

A two week-long set of meetings of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change opened in Bonn on 15 May to plot the second phase of the Kyoto Protocol, with Canada as the chair.

The instructions obtained by The Globe and Mail also show that Canada wants the climate-change accord phased out in favor of a separate, voluntary deal. (Separately, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Canada was interested in exploring the possibility of joining the US-led voluntary Asia-Pacific Partnership on climate change.) Canada has already publicly stated that it needs more lenient greenhouse gas reduction targets for itself than originally specified under the Kyoto Protocol.

“Canada will not support agreement on language in the work program that commits developed countries to more stringent targets in the future,” states a line contained in 22 pages of instructions.

The paper also shows that Canada is threatening to pull out of the UN climate-change process unless it includes the United States and all other major polluters.

The instructions to Canadian negotiators reveal Ottawa is pushing for the Kyoto Protocol to disappear.

“Canada does not support a continuation of the status quo beyond 2012, and has no preconceived view on how a new commitment period might be structured.”

Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions are now 35% above its 1990 base levels—under Kyoto, its target is to be 6% below 1990 levels by 2012.


Randall Parker

Since the early 1990s Canada's CO2 emissions have risen more than the United States in percentage terms. Canadian economic and population growth caused this. All the while this was happening some Canadian politicians were morally posturing as being superior to the United States because Canada had joined the Kyoto Accord. But the Canadian government was totally unwilling to inflict big costs on Canadian industry or the Canadian public in order to meet their Kyoto obligations.

The tar sands oil production in Alberta generates a lot of CO2 and so the continued increase in tar sands oil is going to drive up Canadian CO2 emissions even higher.

To repeat my own position on Kyoto: The only way to stop and reverse CO2 emissions at the world level is to obsolesce fossil fuels. We can best do that by accelerating the development of non-fossil fuels energy technologies.

Michael G. Richard

The federal Canadian government has indeed done pretty much nothing, but I'm pretty sure that the previous government was ready to pay the big bucks on the carbon market. This one doesn't seem to want to do that at all.

Thankfully, there are many provinces and cities that still want to reach kyoto objectives.


" The only way to stop and reverse CO2 emissions at the world level is to obsolesce fossil fuels. We can best do that by accelerating the development of non-fossil fuels energy technologies."

Yes but what if those technologies are not price competetive with oil? I can see no reason that at anytime in the future they should be so. If left unfettered then the market for energy may well ensure the ongoing expansion of fossils fuels until they become so scarce that price favours non harmful technologies (renewable, plugins etc) and by that point we may have damaged our climate.


" The only way to stop and reverse CO2 emissions at the world level is to obsolesce fossil fuels. We can best do that by accelerating the development of non-fossil fuels energy technologies."

Yes but what if those technologies are not price competetive with oil? I can see no reason that at anytime in the future they should be so. If left unfettered then the market for energy may well ensure the ongoing expansion of fossils fuels until they become so scarce that price favours non harmful technologies (renewable, plugins etc) and by that point we may have damaged our climate.


There are always fossile fuel energy, these are the evils sealed in hell aeons ago. And mankind is unlocking these demons, one by one.

Petroleum, natural gas, coal, and in the future, methane hydrate. Until our atmosphere no longer able to sustain burning..


So much for our "enlightened" neighbors to the North. Yeh, right. Voluntary controls are really going to get the job done. Sounds like a George Bush strategy. Global warming has already done a lot of damage. The question is not if, but how much and when.

Scrap the WTO. Further, those countries who decide to get serious about global warming by enforcing Kyoto and beyond, need to start sanctioning those countries and companies who won't play ball. The problem is way more important and scary than terrorism and needs to be treated accordingly.

We won't do much of anything because we think there is too much pain involved. Better a little pain now than a whole lotta pain later.

We cannot afford to choose fossil fuels because they are cheaper, especially because the true cost is not being charged.

The conundrum is that the cost of alternatives are driven, in part, by the cost and availability of fossil fuels. Nothing can or ever will compare with respect to energy density. These are basic facts and won't be changed by ethanol or hydrogen fantasies. Even wind generators are dependent on big inputs of petroleum to mine the tons of steel and other materials, including carbon fiber, which is oil based.

If we run low on oil and other fossil fuel before we make the transition to wind, solar, etc., we are truly screwed, because there is no way we will be able to afford the infrastructure.

Alternatives without maximum and radical conservation and efficiency is a doomed strategy. While our politicians are beginning to enjoy talking about alternatives, they largely shy away from the C word. Conservation is just another word for sacrifice, pain, and betrayal of the American way.


You can probably thank our prime minister John Howard for this. He was in Canada recently and pretty much did a fair bit in pushing Stephen Harper away from Kyoto and toward this Asia-Pacfic thing. It seems John has found a kindred spirit in Stephen recently. Another right wing conservative leader like George Bush.

I don't support Australia signing the Kyoto protocol. It would just be an excuse for the Federal government to use the Foreign policy power of the constitution to excercise more control over the States. If something a state does emits greenhouse gas emissions the federal government would probably be able to pass a law overuling it. I support other means of reducing our country's greenhouse gases. The states seem to do a hell of a lot more on this than the federal government.



butanol has similar energy density to petrol and can be produced in a 100% renewable manner using a variety of organic waste streams.

the algae-to-fuel technology of green fuel can lead to a 40% increase in overall efficiency of our carbon fuel use.

ethanol, if not hijacked and turned into farm subsidies, can play an important role in our energy future.

Pres. Bush recently said that he is streamlining the process for constructing new nuke plants in the US, which are carbon nuetral and produce energy for less than $.02/kWhr, which should leave enough money to deal with long term storage costs.

all in all, there are many encouraging technologies that, if embraced enthusiastically today through non-technology-specific funding and legislature, will lead to an overall reduction in fossil carbon consumption with fairly small or negative increases in costs (depending on how you calculate costs)

Rafael Seidl

While I would have much preferred Canada to stick to the objective of limiting greenhouse gas emissions, I can understand why they chose to abandon the effort:

(a) Canada is one of very few countries that actually stands to gain from global warming

(b) At current oil prices, the aggressive exploitation of Alberta's vast oil and tar sands reserves is economically and strategically compelling.

(c) The US is Canada's most important trading partner by far. Small nations have no hope of effecting a meaningful reduction in the atmosphere's CO2 concentration as long as Washington, DC, Beijing and others do no more than pay lip service to the issue.

Besides, the emissions trading regime set up by Kyoto has been hampered by inappropriate distributions of these indulgences (I use the word advisedly). It would have been far clearer and more effective to simply tax the consumption of fossil fuels, compensated by cuts in direct taxes.

Current energy policies reflect the orthodox views that environmental protection is a luxury only a vibrant economy can enable and, that economic growth is inexorably tied to increased energy use.

IMHO, the inverse is true: a predictable, healthful environment is the quintessential precondition for long-term economic growth. This is doubly true in the developed world, which is rapidly losing the low-tech portion of its manufacturing base to the emerging economies. A focus on GNP/kWh rather than just GNP promotes high-tech innovation that those emerging economies will eventually come to demand as well. We need to stay ahead in IP generation so our children have something worthwhile to trade.

gerald earl

Please keep in mind that Bill Clinton had ample opportunity to sign Kyoto and did not.Bush said it would not work as it was crafted and he was right.

The fastest growing economies were not included.A number of nations are not living up their targets.Canada dumped it as soon as they saw the revenue that was possible with tar sands.

Bush suggested a cap and trade system and cooperation on clean technology.Looking at the crumbling of Kyoto are you sure it was the panacea you were expecting? Or is this always going to be Bush sucks,republicans are demons and we are all going to die site?

Paul Dietz

It's my understanding of the CO2 offset trading process that the buyer of the offsets is not responsible for their validity. The selling country is responsible, but the penalty for failing to make the corresponding reductions is just stricter limits in the next phase of the treaty. If a country wanted to game the system it could join Kyoto I, sell bogus credits, then drop out for Kyoto II.


No one expected or expects Kyoto to be a panacea. It doesn't go nearly far enough. Yes, Bush is being bashed. Until very recently, he has denied the validity of man caused global warming. He still is proposing nothing that will make meaningful dents in the problem. Bush is the President and he is in a position to do something meaningful about the problem. If Gore or someone else were elected and took the same approach, he would get the same or worse criticism. Bush is bashed for a reason; he is a failed President who main contribution has been to say that conservation is against the American way of life. Same goes for Cheney.


Btw, Clinton did not have opportunity to sign Kyoto as it was rejected by the Senate. I will freely grant, however, that he could have done more to make the case for it. In addition, I will also freely admit that Gore was a total disappointment in the 2000 election as he remained rather mum on his passion, global warming.

fyi CO2

"Please keep in mind that Bill Clinton had ample opportunity to sign Kyoto and did not."

Gearld, in 1998 the Clinton administration signed on to the Kyoto Protocol. If you want to learn something, read:

Also see Clinton comments from last week's Reuter wires>

I think we should be in the Kyoto climate change system," Clinton said. "We can't solve global warming or any other problem in the world you can mention that amounts to a hill of beans by ourselves."

The United States is considered the largest emitter of the "greenhouse gases" blamed for global warming. President George W. Bush has said that global warming may be occurring but its cause is not clear.

Harvey D.

Canada was never serious about Kyoto's objectives. Just a way to get the 'greens' vote but it wasn't enough to get elected. You can't double and trible Tar Sands production and reduce GHG at the same time.

A Bush-Howard-Harper 3-yr alliance may be very good for COLD Canada. An added +5C would be very acceptable to most Canadians. The big losers will be our very good neighbors to the south. Ten to fifteen more major hurricanes and 1000+ more tornadoes every year, major flooding of low lands in many places, major drought expansion and more desert lands, insects invasion and progressive reduction in agriculture production etc etc.

As most of you already mentionned, we will consume more and more fossil fuel as long as it is cheaper than alternative energies. Our pocket-book is still more important than GHG and climate changes. OPEP could give us a helping hand by raising the oil price to $100+/barrel but it may not be enough. We would just get use to a $4/gal.

A progressive-adjustable fossil fuel federal tax of $1/gal to $3/gal would be a much better solution. The money would stay home and could be used to accellerate the production and use of alternative cleaner energies. The BHH alliance will not allow such common sense transition. Be prepared for more GHG and fluctuating higher OIL prices for the next three years.

Jay Dayer

Why Canada has flip-flopped on Kyoto has little to do with Kyoto’s effectiveness.

Canada’s national government is very weak. Kyoto was a tool of Quebec to get votes and “moral leverage” for parties that support increased transfer payments to the Quebec government (that is, welfare to the Quebec government).

This scam worked because Quebec has hydroelectricity to sell while Alberta has oil sands and Ontario relies on smokestack industries.

So Quebec just used Green votes and the righteousness of Kyoto supporters to get more money for Quebec and elbow room for Quebec separatists.

If Quebec supporters get enough clout to actually enforce Kyoto restrictions on Alberta, then Albertans will be the bad guys since they’ll need to split the country.

And even though Quebec has condemned Alberta and Ontario for their fossil-fueled industrial practices, Quebec is always the first in line at the ‘Pay’ window to get lots of that “dirty” money from Ontario and Alberta.

Michael G. Richard

"(a) Canada is one of very few countries that actually stands to gain from global warming"


That's pretty short-sighted, at best (and I say that as a Canadian).

If most of the rest of the planet is screwed, we are too; we don't like in a bubble..

Michael G. Richard

Jay Dayer, your conspiracy theory might seem plausible on paper, but it is just not reflected by this thing we call reality.

I'm sure it plays well in Alberta, though.

Jay Dayer

What I wrote above is the truth about Canadian federal politics.

It’s not fiction from a conspiracy of Albertans.

But that’s what Michael G. Richard is claiming.

I’ll repeat this truth again: Quebec (i.e., the politicians that represent Quebec interests) use Kyoto to get Green votes for parties that support more transfer payments to Quebec. Those parties are the Liberals, the Bloc Quebecois, and the NDP. Because of Canada’s absurdly obsolete and corrupt party discipline, after Greens vote for one of these parties, those party members vote like robots to support the rest of those parties’ policies for increased transfer payments to Quebec (among others). It’s obvious political calculation to even superficial Canadian political observers, and one of the many many failures of the bad Canadian system.

I only hope that when the Canadian federal system finally breaks (that is when one of the provinces finally tells an uncompromising federal government that it won’t accept federal authority), that the federal government will peacefully and rightfully make adjustments to this reality.

We know there are numerous ways that Quebec won’t accept federal government intervention. And Albertans won’t submit their resources to federal government control, Kyoto or otherwise - No way, no how. The Ontario government (where I’m coming from – not Alberta) is only now starting to protest the “shakedowns” of Ontario taxpayers by the federal government.

Harvey D.

Polluting Alberta (+ adjacent northlands to the Artic Ocean and all provinces eastward) to extract and export fossil fuel from Tar Sands for short term gains is not justified.

Burning that stuff in oversized gas guzzlers south of the border will spread pollution all across north America. How much damage will an extra 2 to 5 000 000 barrel/day do during the next 10/20 years. It may be more of a poison pill than a helping hand to our good friendly neighbour.

Sharing short term gains with other Provinces and Northern Territories will not make the GHG from Tar Sands more acceptable.


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