Canada and the Kyoto negotiations in Durban, South Africa

by R. Rodríguez Bencomo

Among the many problematic developments in the world now, there is one which should stand out as an eyesore to Canadians and fair-minded people all around the world. The case in question in the international talks taking place in Durban, South Africa with the aim of renewing the Kyoto Protocol agreement. The Kyoto Agreement, for those not familiar with it, is an UN-led agreement established in 1997 with the intent of fighting climate change by reducing CO2 emissions. It imposed CO2 reduction goals by 2012 to its signatories while conspicuously only demanding from developing economies such as India’s and China’s to establish voluntary goals. Canada, under the previous liberal government, ratified the protocol in 2002, agreeing to a reduction of 6% relative to 1990 levels. A few other countries, such as the US, have not ratified the protocol and instead have opted for their own national initiatives to fight global warming. Canada, under PM Harper, seems reluctant and opposed to the agreement as it is, and instead seems to prefer other means to combat climate change1.

That been said, there are many deplorable things related to the agreement which must be discussed before well-meaning people jump onboard criticizing Canada for its lack of commitment to the sustainability to the environment. Among the most egregious is the fact that while developed economies are harshly punished, developing countries such as China and India (the fastest growing polluters in the world) are given a free pass. Canada, as of July 2010, was 29.5% above the Kyoto goal, producing 590.20 million tones of CO2 emissions. To meet our Kyoto goals would mean to reduce emissions to roughly 455 million tons – a little less than what Mexico now produce (471.46 mill tons). That would mean an obvious and significant reduction in Canadian wealth-being. By contrast, China is 165.7% above its Kyoto obligations and India 133.1% above hers, and yet, the pressure is on industrialized nations to continuing tightening the belt in the chase of the clean environment utopia2.  One has to wonder how is that fair to hard-working Canadians? Or is it maybe that the only harmful CO2 emissions are those produced in Europe and North America? We all know the answer to these questions.

Therefore, it is only reasonable that nations like Canada, the US, Russia and Japan strongly demand that developing countries share the burden equally and start taking the responsibilities and duties they themselves demand of developed nations. It is only fair and the minimum we can expect from our delegates to Durban. However, reality is not so simple and once again, Canada is being done a disservice by those leftist moralists who see themselves as champions and messiahs of something bigger than us mere mortals – bigger even than the nation they claim to represent. So is with the case of MP Elizabeth May, leader of Canada’s Green Party. She is currently in Durban participating in the negotiations as part of Papua New Guinea’s delegation. That is right; let that think in for a second. A Member of Parliament has left her duties to her constituents, abandoned her chair in Parliament and quite literally her country to represent another nation in some international conference3. Who does MP Mays think she is? She is a public servant to her constituents and her country’s government first and foremost. She has no inherent right to participate in the conference and if the legitimate government of Canada does not select her to be in Durban she has no right to be there and abandon her job as a parliamentarian. Or does she think that her duty to the environment is greater to her duty to Canada? If that is the case the voters of Saanich-Gulf Islands who elected her should be warned.

Furthermore, all these things begin from the highly debatable premise that global warming is happening and more importantly that it is anthropogenic. Canada and the entire world should step back and acknowledge that there is no wisdom in launching a global crusade against CO2 (a move bound to set back global economies) before we are sure it is the right move – which we are not.


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