Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Another climate ditherer

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Get ready, Canada, for another Fossil of the Year Award from international environmental groups that worry about global warming and think Canada is one of the major villains in that climate war. And that award will not be entirely undeserved.

If there was any corner Canadian Environment Minister Peter Kent didn't cut at the climate change-conference in Durban this week, it is a pretty hard corner to locate. When Mr. Kent went into the conference, he was widely expected to announce Canada would withdraw from the Kyoto accord before that save-the-world-from-global-warming treaty entered its second stage in 2012.

He did that, sort of. He said Canada believes Kyoto is coercive and ineffective and it selectively burdens a few industrialized nations with cleaning up the problem of greenhouse gases that cause global warming while exonerating huge polluters like China, India and Brazil on the grounds that, while they may be industrial giants, they are still developing nations.

It also excludes from any responsibility the more impoverished developing nations, which are trying to attain the industrial position where they can compete in carbon-gas emissions with the rest of the world.

Canada is right on all those counts. Kyoto is both unfair and unworkable.

It should have been officially scrapped in Durban but instead it was only effectively emasculated.

The protocol will be extended, but without the participation of Canada, the United States, Russia or Japan; China, India and Brazil won another ten-year exemption.

Without the participation of all these major polluters under Kyoto's quota system, the protocol is not worth much more than a sympathy card to future generations.

Canada should have stuck to the position Mr. Kent originally announced, that it would not participate any longer in Kyoto, that a new and more comprehensive agreement must be reached.

Instead he looked for the best of both worlds, agreeing to extend Kyoto while not participating in it, and hoping somehow Europe and the developing nations that cling to Kyoto's tattered coattails will come around.

The U.S., at least, has been clear and consistent in its opposition to Kyoto. Canada, however, ratified the treaty but never implemented it in any meaningful way under a succession of governments. In doing so, this nation accomplished nothing but to make itself the world's most outstanding environmental hypocrite. Clear some space on the wall for the next fossil award.

Editorials are the consensus view of the Winnipeg Free Press’ editorial board, comprising Catherine Mitchell, David O’Brien, Shannon Sampert, and Paul Samyn.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 13, 2011 A12

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