China slams Canadian Kyoto withdrawal

China is the world's biggest emitter of carbon. [Reuters: David Gray]
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China is the world's biggest emitter of carbon. [Reuters: David Gray]

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Combet sheds light on climate talks

Created: 13/12/2011

Last Updated: Wed, 14 Dec 2011 08:25:00 +1100

Canada's historic decision to withdraw from the Kyoto Protocol has provoked heavy criticism from China.

Beijing says the move goes against international efforts to combat climate change.

Canada on Monday became the first country to formally withdraw from the protocol, saying the pact on cutting carbon emissions was preventing the world from effectively tackling climate change.

The move is "against the efforts of the international community and is regrettable," Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Liu Weimin told a regular media briefing.

"We hope Canada will face up to its responsibilities and obligations, honour its commitments and actively participate in relevant international cooperation against climate change."

China is the world's biggest emitter of carbon but has always insisted that as a developing country it should be exempt from binding obligations on emissions.

But Australia's Climate Change Minister, Greg Combet, has defended Canada's withdrawal, insisting the country is still committed to reducing pollution.

"The Canadian decision to withdraw from the protocol should not be used to suggest Canada does not intend to play its part in global efforts to tackle climate change," a spokesman said in a statement.

"In Durban, Canada made clear it supports a new international climate change agreement that includes commitments from all major emitters."

The landmark Kyoto pact, reached in 1997, is the only global treaty that sets down targeted curbs in global emissions.

But those curbs apply only to rich countries, excluding the United States - which has refused to ratify the accord.

Beijing believes that developed nations, with their long history of industrialisation, should take responsibility for climate change and has called for more funding to help poorer nations cope with its impact on them.

But the lack of binding constraints over giants like China and India and Washington's refusal to join the protocol have gravely weakened efforts to address climate change, especially after the near-collapse of talks in Copenhagen in 2009.

Canada agreed under the Kyoto Protocol to reduce CO2 emissions to 6 per cent below 1990 levels by 2012, but its emissions of the gases blamed for damaging Earth's fragile climate system have instead increased sharply.

Participants in the UN climate conference in Durban, South Africa, last week reached an accord that for the first time will bring all major greenhouse-gas emitters under a single legal roof.

If approved as scheduled in 2015, the pact will be operational from 2020 and become the prime weapon in the fight against climate change.

Environmentalists have called it porous, but Mr Combet says the new accord is a very significant breakthrough.

"There's a lot of work to do, but it also means that the implementation of the Government's carbon price mechanism is very timely indeed, because by 2020 we'll be part of a legally binding deal to cut emissions, and we need to get ready for that," he said.

ABC/wires

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