weather extremes, state of the environment, emission targets, climate change
Canada became the first country to withdraw from the Kyoto Protocol on Dec. 15, 2011, breaking an international 14-year agreement among 36 industrialized countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The withdrawal came just a year before the agreement was set to end. Canada was so far behind meeting its targets that it would have had to buy $14 billion in carbon credits under the agreement.
Canada had signed the coordinated international effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in 1998, committing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 6 per cent below 1990 levels by 2012. The protocol required each member country to meet emissions targets by reducing its greenhouse gas emissions and to help developing countries develop cleaner energy plans.
Each year from 1997 to 2011, member countries reported their progress at the United National Climate Change Convention. Canada's progress report showed that, by 2008, rather than decreasing, total emissions had increased by nearly 25% from 1990 levels.
Membership in the Kyoto Protocol had provided Canadians with a clear standard to hold the government accountable for climate change. Following its withdrawal, the Canadian government was no longer accountable under the Kyoto Protocol's terms. Then-Environment Minister Peter Kent emphasized that Canadian taxpayers would have born the brunt of multi-billion dollar penalties for not reaching Canada's targets.
Since 2012, the Kyoto Protocol has entered its second phase, and member countries continue to work to meet emissions targets by 2020.