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Canada pulls out of Kyoto Protocol

On Monday, Canada became the first country to pull out of the Kyoto Protocol. Environment Minister Peter Kent announced the decision on his return from talks in Durban, South Africa, where countries agreed to extend Kyoto for a further five years. In addition, they agreed to put together a new deal forcing all big polluters to limit greenhouse emissions.

Canada, a key energy producer, has long complained the protocol is unworkable because it excludes many large emitters. “As we’ve said, Kyoto for Canada is in the past … We are invoking our legal right to formally withdraw from Kyoto,” Kent told reporters.

Canada would be subject to fines of around CAD14bn (US$13.6bn) under the Kyoto terms for not cutting emissions by the required amount by 2012, according to the country’s right-of-centre Conservative government. “To meet the targets under Kyoto for 2012 would be the equivalent of either removing every car truck, all-terrain vehicle, tractor, ambulance, police car and vehicle off every kind of Canadian road,” said Kent.

Canada is the largest supplier of oil and gas to the US and seeks to boost its crude production from the Alberta oilsands, which requires large amounts of energy to extract.

The announcement will do little to improve its international reputation. “Our government is abdicating its international responsibilities. It’s like where the kid in school who knows he’s going to fail the class, so he drops it before that happens,” said Megan Leslie of the opposition New Democrats. Green groups responded by awarding the country their Fossil of the Year award for its Durban performance.

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