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Peter Worthington

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Canada's Brave Withdrawal From Kyoto

Posted: 12/14/11 10:56 AM ET

As the leader of a party of one in Parliament, Elizabeth May's support or opposition verges on the irrelevant, yet that doesn't inhibit her from speaking out.

And speaking out is perhaps what she does best -- witness her understated concern about Canada pulling out of the Kyoto agreement. In this, Canada is showing leadership that will likely be emulated by other countries that have doubts about the value of Kyoto (India and Russia). We, and others, are catching up to U.S. concerns.

In her quiet way, Ms. May wrote in the Huffington Post that she thinks by Canada quitting Kyoto, "you (the average citizen) may feel like throwing yourself down and weeping for the betrayal of our future."

As far as one can tell, so far May is the only one who feels so inclined.

Agreeing to the new scheme reached at the climate change conference in Durban, South Africa was according to May "our chance to avoid cataclysmatic [sic] climate change." She thinks "Stephen Harper must not be allowed to get away with this."

For some who had doubts about Canada quitting the Kyoto agreement that it had ratified under the Chrétien government, May's reaction confirms that Harper and Environment Minister Peter Kent have done the right thing.

Doing opposite to May isn't a bad formula for doing what's right.

As it is, the proposed refurbished Kyoto nonsense wasn't to be signed until 2015, and won't take effect until 2020. Doesn't that alone indicate it's uselessness?

In fact, there's no evidence (just theorizing) that if every country diligently lived up to Kyoto carbon emission standards, it would have the slightest effect on climate change -- which we don't understand (much less control) anyway.

What we do know is that buying emission credits from polluting countries like China, which has escaped Kyoto protocols because it's backward and needs to catch up, is another wealth-redistributing scheme.

To many, the United Nation's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has been discredited by being selective and dogmatic about the validity of climate change (global warming) -- by saying that it is largely the product of human negligence and not a cyclical occurrence.

Arrogance sometimes dictates that we think our industrial activities have greater influence on nature than they do. Common sense, as well as science, indicate otherwise.

Kent says staying with Kyoto would cost Canada something like $14 billion to buy carbon credits abroad. May disputes this, but others think it would cost more.

Of course, Canada could reduce its carbon emissions to 6 per cent below what they were in 1990, instead of what they are today -- 30 per cent higher than in 1990. To paraphrase May, that really would be "cataclysmatic" to the Canadian economy.

Even the Liberal government didn't try to live up to what it agreed to when it ratified the original Kyoto protocol.

"Legally binding" is a term tossed around regarding Kyoto, and it is meaningless. Nothing is legally binding when it comes to national interests, no matter the country. Canada made no secret of its contempt for Kyoto, and it's good that we can abandon hypocrisy and move on.

Having said all that, as a nation and as a people, we should seek to cut back on pollution, reduce carbon emissions (which are not pollution) and do what we can to safeguard the environment while creating jobs and advancing the economy.