Canadian government slammed for stand on Kyoto extension

By RTCC Staff

Mohau Pheko, South African High Commissioner in Canad

(Source: Mike Gifford/flickr)

Ahead of the COP 17 Climate Summit in Durban, the South African high commissioner  to Canada has slammed the Canadian government for its opposition to a Kyoto Protocol extension.

With the Protocol expiring in 2012 the establishment of a second commitment period is top of the agenda in Durban, although this is looking increasingly difficult to achieve.

South Africa hopes to put pressure on the Canadian government who have said they will not support a second commitment period target under the existing deal.

Speaking to the Globe and Mail, Mohau Pheko asked: “Are you (Canada) going to follow the United States, are you also going to become a serial non-ratifier of any agreements?”

“Why take a moral high ground before, on the issue of the environment and suddenly do an about-turn now? We can’t afford to sign on to UN conventions and when we don’t like the toys that are inside, start throwing out the toys we don’t like.”

Canada’s environment minister, Peter Kent said that he expected the country’s stance would cause “some turbulence” at the conference in South Africa and open the government up to International criticism, but said they would not re-consider.

Hopes that new targets could be agreed under the Kyoto Protocol were set back when Canada, along with Japan and Russia refused to sign on again. They say that there is no point while big emitters such as the US, China and India face no legal targets.

Last week Connie Hedegaard, EU Commissioner for Climate Action also came out against an extension to the protocol which didn’t comprise a broader framework including big emitters from the developing world.

Earlier this month, a group of developing nations, under the Alliance of Small Island States urged for a new deal to take the place of the Kyoto Protocol when it expires at the end of 2012, arguing that a timetable for such a deal must be agreed this year at Durban.

Joseph Gilbert, chair of the Alliance said the developed world must not back away from their historical responsibility, warning that lack of action now would undermine and ruin the work already done under the international climate regime.

A scaled-back agreement to extend Kyoto without the support of countries like the US and Canada, is now being considered as part of a “coalition of the willing”.

Other options being looked at include the possibility that an agreement could be made which would be a “declaration of intent” – a political but not legally binding deal – which could include voluntary targets.

Pheko, however, dismissed the idea of voluntary pledges by industrialised countries, pointing out that even under the Kyoto Protocol Canada had failed to meet its targets, leaving little hope for work under a voluntary scheme.

Read more on: Climate Politics | COP17