Ottawa, December 13, 2011 — Canada became the first country to formally withdraw from 1997’s Kyoto Protocol, the world’s most ambitious and potentially binding climate agreement to date.
The country’s federal environment minister said that because the agreement does not cover the world’s two heaviest polluters — the U.S. and China — and thus cannot be effective.
Canada‘s failure to cut carbon emissions to 6 percent below 1990 levels by 2012 was estimated to potentially cost the country about $13.6 billion, according to reports.
The country might still have a legal mandate to follow the accord, or at least keep track of its emissions-cutting progress, despite the pullout, according to government officials. The government is consulting lawyers to discover what the implications of this move might be.
Canada signed onto the treaty in the late 1990s, but neither Conservative nor Liberal party administrations were able to meet emissions-cutting targets.
In 2009, Canada emitted 690 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent, 17 percent above 1990 levels. Canada produces about 2 percent of worldwide carbon emissions.
The Kyoto Protocol is part of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and is aimed at fighting global warming by stabilizing greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere.
The governments of China, Japan and India as well as U.N. leadership have all cautioned Canada over this move.