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China’s flexibility fails to soften Tory stand against Kyoto climate pact

Canada won't budge on its rejection of the Kyoto Protocol – even to lure China into making its own binding commitments to reduce greenhouse gases, Environment Minister Peter Kent says.

In a teleconference from Durban, Mr. Kent reiterated the Conservative government's refusal to make a second commitment to Kyoto emission targets once the current period expires in 2012. He said Ottawa wants Kyoto to be replaced with an international treaty that would include all major emitters, including the United States, China and India.

On the weekend, China's top negotiator signalled his country – now the world's largest emitter – would accept binding commitments in a treaty after 2020, so long as developed countries renew their pledges under Kyoto.

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The European Union is pushing for a compromise that would see current Kyoto participants accept a second round of emission-reduction targets, while the major emerging countries agree to negotiate their own binding commitments for the post-2020 period.

Asked whether Canada would reconsider its Kyoto position in the light of developments at the United Nations talks in South Africa, Mr. Kent offered a terse: "No."

Canada is under significant pressure at Durban for its stand on Kyoto, particularly after news circulated last week that the Harper government would not only refuse to make a new Kyoto commitment but would withdraw from the treaty altogether.

In Ottawa, the New Democratic Party has moved a motion in the House of Commons calling on the Conservative government to "respect and adhere to its commitments" made under both Kyoto and the Copenhagen accord, which includes non-binding targets.

Canada has no chance of meeting its Kyoto target to reduce emissions by 6 per cent from 1990 levels by 2012 and would have to spend billions of dollars to purchase international credits to meet that goal.

Mr. Kent announced Canada will complete its three-year, $1.2-billion aid program under a "fast start" initiative agreed at Copenhagen to provide the poorest countries with assistance in reduce emissions and adjust to the impacts of climate change. Half of the contribution will be grants and half will be loans, which will "lever" private sector financing of clean energy projects, the minister said.

Editor's Note: An earlier Canadian Press version of this story indicated Canada was pulling out of the Kyoto Protocol. As reflected in this staff-written update, Ottawa is not making a second commitment to Kyoto emission targets once the current period expires in 2012.

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About the Author
Global Energy Reporter

Shawn McCarthy is an Ottawa-based, national business correspondent for The Globe and Mail, covering a global energy beat. He writes on various aspects of the international energy industry, from oil and gas production and refining, to the development of new technologies, to the business implications of climate-change regulations. More

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