“In some cases, in order to protect global issues some sacrifice for national interest is worth it in the long run. Global warming, these things, they suffer everybody.” DALAI LAMA
By Alex P. Vidal
VANCOUVER, British Columbia — When reports started crisscrossing the news websites recently that Canada has formally withdrew from Kyoto Protocol, I experienced my first global warming-generated chill while I was in Toronto.
It happened again Wednesday evening before I flew here when I picked up an abandoned daily paper in a bus from Toronto’s St. Catherine of Siena Church: Canada is getting pummeled from pillar to post as a result of Environment Minister Peter Kent’s announcement, following a marathon UN climate conference in South Africa, at which nations agreed to a new roadmap for worldwide action, that “We are invoking Canada’s legal right to formally withdraw from Kyoto.”
Kent said, “Kyoto is not the path forward for a global solution to climate change. If anything, it’s an impediment. We believe that a new agreement with legally binding commitments for all major emitters that allows us as a country to continue to generate jobs and economic growth represents the path forward.”
The Kyoto protocol, which was put in force on February 16, 2005, is an international agreement that sets a target reduction of GHG emissions for 37 industrialized countries and European communities starting from 2008 to 2012. Specifically, it requires an average reduction of five percent from the GHG emission recorded in 1990.
To aid the countries in achieving their targets, the Kyoto Protocol allows “emissions trading” or the selling of excess allowable emission of carbon dioxide of a country to another country that is still behind its target reduction of GHG emission. The protocol also offers the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) which allows Annex I countries to meet their targets by implementing emission-reduction projects in Non-Annex I countries. These projects can earn saleable credit emission reduction (CER) credits where each credit is equivalent to 1 ton of CO2 that can be accounted in attaining the Kyoto target. Through CDM, Annex I countries are able to not only meet their emission reduction target but also assist Non-Annex I countries in attaining sustainable development through partial profit from CER.
Another mechanism implemented by the Kyoto Protocol is Joint Implementation where an Annex I country can earn emission reduction units (ERU), each unit equivalent to 1 ton of CO2, from emission reduction projects of another member country of Annex I.
However, the Kyoto Protocol is not a complete success because some of the member countries have failed to meet the agreed targets.
It was reported that Canada agreed under the Kyoto Protocol to reduce CO2 emissions to 6.0 percent below 1990 levels by 2012, but its emissions of the gases blamed for damaging Earth’s fragile climate system have instead increased sharply.
Saying the targets agreed to by a previous Liberal administration were unattainable, Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government last year unveiled its own measures aimed at curbing emissions, in line with US efforts.
Pulling out of Kyoto now allows Canada to avoid paying penalties of up to CAN$14 billion (US$13.6 billion) for missing its targets.
Kent also cited major impacts on Canada’s economy that will be avoided by withdrawing from the treaty.
“Under Kyoto, Canada is facing radical and irresponsible choices if we’re to avoid punishing multi-billion-dollar payments,” Kent said, noting that Canada produces barely two percent of global emissions.
“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.”
AFP reported that for Kyoto supporters, the anticipated Canadian pullout was expected to be a symbolic blow and badly damage a UN climate process already weakened by divisions.
Last week at the UN climate conference in Durban, South Africa, Kent had already said that Kyoto was “in the past” for Canada.
“It is an agreement that covers fewer than 30 percent of global emissions, by some estimates 15 percent or less,” the Canadian minister said.
The conference on December 11 approved a roadmap towards an accord that for the first time will bring all major greenhouse-gas emitters under a single legal roof.
If approved as scheduled in 2015, the pact will be operational from 2020 and become the prime weapon in the fight against climate change.
But environmentalists have called it porous.
Kent said that in the meantime, Canada would continue to try to reduce its emissions under a domestic plan that calls for a 20 percent cut from 2006 levels by 2020, or as critics point out, a mere three percent from 1990 levels.
AFP said the latest data last year showed that Canadian carbon emissions were currently up more than 35 percent from 1990.
Under the Kyoto Protocol, developing countries such as the Philippines are called to pass and implement national measures that shall advance the international community’s agenda pertaining to environmental preservation through the reduction of greenhouse emissions (GHGs) in the atmosphere.
Pursuant to the provisions in this treaty, the Philippines passed national legislations to uphold the agreements embedded in the Kyoto Protocol. The Clean Air Act of 1999, otherwise known as Republic Act 8749, was enacted in order to arrive at an effective air quality management program that will mitigate the worsening problem of air pollution in the country.
Reinforcing the country’s drive towards a healthier environment was the enactment of the Solid Waste Management Act of 2000 (RA 9003) that aimed at providing a comprehensive solution to the country’s garbage problem.