Canada must still cut emissions-UN

Updated: 2011-12-14 09:28


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UNITED NATIONS - Canada's decision to withdraw from the Kyoto Protocol is surprising and regrettable, the United Nations climate change chief Christiana Figueres said on Tuesday, calling on developed countries to meet the commitments they recently made at the UN Climate Change Conference in Durban, South Africa.

"I regret that Canada has announced it will withdraw and am surprised over its timing," said Figueres, the executive secretary of UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

"Whether or not Canada is a Party to the Kyoto Protocol, it has a legal obligation under the Convention to reduce its emissions, and a moral obligation to itself and future generations to lead in the global effort," she said. "Industrialized countries, whose emissions have risen significantly since 1990, as is the case for Canada, remain in a weaker position to call on developing countries to limit their emissions."

Canada became the first country to formally pull out of the Kyoto Protocol in an action that has provoked harsh criticism from around the world, reports said.

In his withdrawal announcement, Peter Kent, Canadian environment minister, said the move will save Canada an estimated 14 billion Canadian dollars in penalties incurred from failing to meet targets set by Kyoto.

Given the current economic situation, Canada has no other choice, he added.

Canada and the United States, which did not sign the Kyoto pact, have criticized the accord for leaving out some of the world's largest emitters.  

The Canadian withdrawal came just a day after 194 nations, including Canada itself, agreed in Durban to engage in talks for a new international climate deal, which would come into effect no later than 2020.      

Figueres urged developed countries to meet their responsibilities under the UNFCCC and "raise their ambition to cut emissions and provide the agreed adequate support to developing countries to build their own clean energy futures and adapt to climate change impacts they are already experiencing."

Last weekend, the 194 parties to the UNFCCC agreed on a package of decisions, known as the Durban Platform, which include the launch of a protocol or legal instrument that would apply to all members, a second commitment period for the existing Kyoto Protocol and the launch of the Green Climate Fund.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed the new set of decisions, saying they represent a significant agreement that will define how the international community will address climate change in the coming years.

"The Durban agreement to a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol represents the continued leaderships and commitment of developed countries to meet legally binding emission reduction commitments," Figueres stressed. "It also provides the essential foundation of confidence for the new push towards a universal, legal climate agreement in the near future."