Was it a mistake for the Canadian government to have withdrawn from the Kyoto Accord?

Withdrawal from Kyoto Accord


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It can be argued out that it wasn’t a mistake of the Canadian government to have withdrawn from the Kyoto Accord but fell to be a victim of circumstances. The Canadian government views the accord as a failure and an agreement with other hidden motives rather the stated control of world’s climatic change.

The Kyoto Accord is an agreement that was signed in 1997 and was ratified by almost all major countries except the United States (Vaughan, 2011). It was meant to help industrialized countries to reduce the levels of their green house gas emissions to levels below those in 1990 and provide financial assistance to world’s developing counties to achieve this task.

Canada had already ratified the accord; unfortunately, it could not meet its targets. Canada’s conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s conservative government hardly opposed one of the extensions of Kyoto accord to future multinational agreements, with an argument that most large emitting nations and mostly developing nations such as India and China, should also meet the targets (Harris, 2013). The then Environment Minister Peter Kent blamed Canada’s former liberal government as it was incompetent. He argues that the government proudly signed the accord yet it couldn’t meet its targets. He argues that the act has forced the current conservative government that took office in 2006, to face “radical irresponsible” options if it is to avoid international penalties of $ 14 billion it is ought to pay if it fails to meet those targets since it is a signatory to the accord (Zeller 2011).

An agreement has been made by negotiators from almost 200 countries on a deal that sets a path of a signing a world new treaty by 2015 that would replace the Kyoto Accord, which is due to expire by the end of 2014( National Post: Canada Pulling out of Kyoto Accord, 2012). The announcement of Canada pulling out of Kyoto was not a surprise at all. Canada faced international criticism at a global climate summit held in Durban, South Africa amid many unproved rumours that it was planning to pull out of Kyoto. Minister Kent had previously said that Canada signing the Kyoto Accord on climate change was one of the government’s biggest blunders and the nation had a reason to regret.

Canada is known to be world’s third largest oil reserves, with a content of more than 170 billion barrels. According to Vaughan in “The Guardian”, Canada produces 1.5 million barrels coming from the oil sand which is expected to rise to 3.7 million by 2025. It is claimed that only Venezuela and Saudi Arabia has more reserves than Canada (Rob Gillis, Herald Sun: Canada Pulls out of Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change). Critics argue that big amounts of energy and water are required in extraction of these resources leading to a subsequent in greenhouse gas emission (Kennedy, 2012).

On the same issue, Kent states that Canada only emits only two per cent of total global emission and that the former liberal Canadian government signed the agreement in 1997 without any motive of meeting these targets. He said that the protocol originally covered nations generating less than 30 % of total global emission whereas now it covers only 13% (Harris 2013). He argues that Canada is willing to address issues related to climate change in a way that is a bit fair than that used in the Kyoto Accord. According to him, Canada was not willing to provide any new funds until all recipients are committed to their targets and to prove their transparency in the whole matter.

Kyoto Accord sets binding targets on all its member states and establishes different mechanisms for a global market with an aim of promoting clean energy innovation and development


Kennedy, D., (2012). Canada Pulling Out of Kyoto Accord. National Post, 105-124.

Harris, T., (2013). Will Canada Quit Kyoto Climate Treaty? Hawai’i Free Press, 37-49.

Ljungren, D., (2011). Analysis: Canada’s Kyoto’s Withdrawal Began When Bush Bolted. Reuters, 23(4), 245-259.

Vaughan, A., (2011). What Does Canada’s Withdrawal from Kyoto Protocol Mean? The Guardian. 27-28.

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