12/07/2011 10:10 EST | Updated 12/07/2011 11:22 EST

Kent's Climate Change Speech Disrupted By Protest

Malkolm Boothroyd/Canadian Youth Delegation

Canadian Environment Minister Peter Kent’s opening address on Wednesday at the UN climate change conference in Durban, South Africa, in which he affirmed that Canada would not make a second commitment to the Kyoto Protocol, was disrupted by six young people who stood and delivered a protest message.

The six members of the Canadian Youth Delegation stood as Kent began his speech and turned their backs, revealing the message “Turn Your back on Canada” on their T-shirts.

The youth delegates said they received an ovation from the crowd but were escorted out by security and had their accreditation revoked.

"Our so-called environment minister entered these talks by going on record that he would be defending the tarsands. I have yet to hear him say that he's here to defend my future," said James Hutt, one of the youth delegates who participated in the action, in a statement from the group.

In his speech, Kent said “Kyoto, for Canada, is in the past."

“Our position has long been clear: We support a new international climate change agreement that includes commitments from all major emitters. That is the only way we are going to achieve real reductions and real results,” he said.

“For Canada, the Kyoto Protocol is not where the solution lies — it is an agreement that covers fewer than 30 per cent of global emissions."

Canada won't obstruct a deal on a second phase of the Kyoto Protocol, Kent has said, but he hopes to see a new agreement that includes major emitters like China and India in 2015 rather than 2020, "because we do feel we need to get the major emitters into the tent sooner and not later."

Kent told delegates they should forget Kyoto and focus on a series of agreements reached last year in Mexico.

He said the Cancun agreements are more realistic, more comprehensive and will be more effective than Kyoto.

The 1997 Kyoto Protocol expires at the end of next year, and countries such as China, India, Brazil and South Africa are pressuring wealthy countries like Canada to extend their commitments.

Green climate fund debated

Also on Wednesday, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said that despite tighter budgets in many countries, contributing money to fight climate change was "an imperative. We have to do it." The mobilization of $100 billion a year, much of it to be channelled through a new Green Climate Fund, is a central issue at the 194-nation climate conference.

The U.S. has blocked suggestions of a levy on international shipping and aviation. It opposes suggestions by a high-ranking panel to impose a tax of $25 for every tonne of carbon emissions.

U.S. lead negotiator Todd Stern said Wednesday that most of the money for green projects should come from private investments.

With files from The Associated Press and The Canadian Press