Canada & Kyoto: cynical, political, commercial, and economic opportunism?

Canada’s announcement that they are withdrawing from the Kyoto Agreement can in no way be seen as an environmental consideration. We, at M&C Energy Group, think the move is a […]

Register now!

By MC Energy Group

Canada’s announcement that they are withdrawing from the Kyoto Agreement can in no way be seen as an environmental consideration. We, at M&C Energy Group, think the move is a cynical, economically, commercially and politically-driven piece of opportunism by the Canadian Government which could, and probably will, have huge repercussions for both other countries and the globe itself.

Indeed, the developed countries bound by the Kyoto Agreement agreed to extend its life beyond 2012 at that conference, in exchange for an 11th-hour deal with almost 200 countries worldwide agreeing to cut greenhouse gas emissions under a global pact with “legal force”.

Certainly Canada’s move will raise enough question marks and ring enough alarm bells to take some of the optimistic wind out of the sails of the new deal.

Canada was, after all, one of the first signatories to the Kyoto Agreement in 1997. Withdrawal from the agreement brings three major benefits to the Canadian Government:

1. Relief from having to pay hefty non-compliance penalties for failing to meet their obligations under Kyoto.
2. Not having to invest to meet the terms of Kyoto and face the lack of investment of the previous government.
3. A chance to exploit hitherto untapped reserves of oil and gas in Canada with impunity.

Critics of Canada’s actions say that the third point is the biggest driver. Withdrawal allows them to push ahead with plans to allow more exploitation of huge oil and gas reserves which lie below the ground in Canada. Under Kyoto, Canada would have to take account of the carbon effect of these reserves being used by countries beyond their shores. Being outside Kyoto avoids this.

But Kyoto is the only legally-binding treaty committing developed countries to reduce emissions. Without it there would be even less pressure on China, India or the USA to address their emissions, despite them not being signed-up to Kyoto. Canada may now prompt other Kyoto strugglers like Japan and Russia to consider their continued membership.

We have already said we need governments and organisations to work together now to develop cohesive and meaningful policies that help deliver the ideals of carbon reduction while allowing affordable energy to be widely available across the globe so the lights can be kept on.

Otherwise, countries will all pull in different directions and take differing approaches resulting in a dislocated policy response and inevitably, increased fuel prices and continuing market volatility.

Above all, the world needs to look at the issue of climate change tipping points and emissions and decide whether we can afford to pay for the clean-up – and equally whether we can afford not to.

So it is not a simple issue of we must be green at all costs ahead of both economic and/or industrial arguments. It is much more subtle and perhaps, having to look at “green” issues and carbon reduction as an opportunity rather than a burden.

Much of the justification given by the Canadian Government, and the assertion of their clean green image, can be seen as “greenwash”.

The reality is that many governments face financially-straitened times and will look for any way to boost flagging or failing economies. However, to do this by abandonment of the principles previously agreed may well just be short-term expediency leading to long-term folly.

Only by cohesive policy-making and actions across many nations can the true danger to our Earth be faced – we are producing too much carbon for the globe to cope with and environmental impacts are inevitably going to be felt by all unless we reduce the levels of carbon output worldwide.

M&C Energy Group helps companies meet their carbon obligations and make them legislatively compliant, while helping reduce energy consumption and bills, but this can only be achieved if governments set realistic and achievable targets within a coherent and cohesive framework. One country cannot abdicate responsibility; otherwise all countries run the risk of failing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

If individual countries take an independent path allowing less scrutiny of emissions, then global carbon production levels will end up in a worse position than they were prior to the Kyoto Agreement being signed in 1997.