Photo: Canada breaks Kyoto commitment - Citizens, cities and provinces must continue to lead on solutions to climate change

Credit: Santiago García Pimentel via Flickr

By Dale Marshall and Ian Bruce

Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Environment Minister Peter Kent have broken Canada's commitment to the Kyoto Protocol. This reckless decision clearly signals that Canada is turning its back on the global fight against climate change and the world our children will inherit.

Further to Canada's disappointing performance at Durban, this decision will only further harm our credibility on the world stage.

At the UN climate change summit in Durban, the federal government didn't offer constructive solutions nor did it show progress or even an effective plan to reduce global warming emissions. Rather, Canada was identified by countries like South Africa and India as a barrier to working out an effective response to global warming.

Sign up for our newsletter

Although Stephen Harper claims the Kyoto Protocol has failed, he's wrong. It is our federal government that has failed as many countries, like those within the European Union, are on track to reach their emission targets. The government of Canada appears to be ripping up Kyoto not to do more about the huge challenge of climate change but to do less.

The current trend of greenhouse gas emissions building up in the atmosphere is putting our world on a dangerous pathway to warming levels of 4˚C or more, and a 4-year or 10-year delay on action would be catastrophic for the fight against climate change.

But there is reason for hope. Many of Canada's provinces and cities are showing true leadership — Ontario's renewable energy plan, B.C.'s carbon tax incentive, and Quebec's law to cap and reduce emissions, Vancouver's Greenest City Plan — but we could do so much more if the federal government was a true partner.

If appearances are deceiving and Canada is in fact serious about avoiding runaway climate change, the federal government needs to come forward and immediately show how it will fill the huge hole left behind by yesterday's announcement. In the meantime, Canadians, provinces and cities must continue to lead our country in global efforts to build a better future and a safer, cleaner economy for everyone.

December 13, 2011

Post a comment


Dec 15, 2011
10:42 AM

Yes, I am ashamed of being a Canadian right now and I am ashamed of the Canadian government but what really pains me is that this majority government has been elected by a majority of like-minded people.

I have some doubts about what you wrote in 'Kyoto and Canada — we are better than this': "And we know that if our government is not willing to listen to the majority—and yes, we are the majority—".

I do not feel that "we" are the majority. If "we" were, there would not be such a huge Conservative ideology throughout Canada.

I will believe that "we" are the majority when I can find a group of Conservative people who are actually working hard on climate change issues even if it is solely for the purpose of evaluating long-term economic losses.

The "future generations / children / grandchildren" talk does not seem to work at all against these economically-minded people.
I would understand such mindset if we were a country starving to death where "Tomorrow" is not that important since we might not live through "Today" but we are one of the country where the relative economic health is good (we are not going bankrupt like some unfortunate European countries).

If simply for the sake of economic reasons, we must concentrate on evaluating environmental losses and put a price on them. That might ring a bell for some people who still have not understood the current environmental situation we are living in.

Dec 14, 2011
9:18 AM

Harper needs to wake-up and smell the pollution! I know I do and so do my children! And my grandchildren will will suffer the most. This is just heartbreaking to know that he has so much power, yet he shows no responsibility for even his own actions. I'm not very proud to be Canadian lately.

Dec 14, 2011
12:59 AM

The climate change solutions have produced some phenomenal changes which can be a great indication of a positive future and for this it's important that one takes necessary steps to increase the activity and ensure a sustainable environment for the coming generations.

The carbon footprint of these industries is the measure of their earnest intentions which are not just driven by some profit making plans and procedures.

Dec 13, 2011
9:22 PM

Surely this means an end to Harper and what he believes is "His Government". It is our government and as a shocked citizen, want to know what I/we can do, to immobilize further development of the tar sands — we all know whose pocket Harper is in and big business interest must be refocused on the huge $$$$$$ profits yet to be made in renewable, sustainable energy supplies.Are they all blind? or , I shudder to think, just plain money whores. As a citizen, I want to focus on the future and not revive the dead horse that are fossil fuels. It all seems so clear to me. I can only conclude that greed is at an all time high. No one is that stupid that we can ignore, what is so very obvious and requiring our urgent attention.

The David Suzuki Foundation does not necessarily endorse the comments or views posted within this forum. All contributors acknowledge DSF's right to remove product/service endorsements and refuse publication of comments deemed to be offensive or that contravene our operating principles as a charitable organization. Please note that all comments are pre-moderated. Privacy Policy »