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Federal Conservative Environment Minister Peter Kent has said Canada has nothing to gain from keeping the Kyoto Protocol in place at the climate talks in Durban, South Africa. Kent will travel to join the negotiations this weekend. The Kyoto Protocol is due to expire in 2012.

Kent recently referred to Kyoto as being in “the past”. He prefers climate change be dealt with through the voluntary pledges approach that was hastily agreed to in Copenhagen at the 15th Conference of the Parties (COP 15).

Kent points to Kyoto not targeting emissions from emerging economies as vigorously as emissions from Canada and other prosperous nations as the problem. He deems this “unfair” because Kyoto applies different rules to different countries, even though the vast majority of historic emissions that have caused climate change come from Canada and other developed countries.

Kent’s position blocks progress on moving toward a new binding agreement to replace Kyoto. Rather than show leadership, Canada continues to delay and muddy the waters of international negotiations by arguing about where blame for the problem should be placed. Meanwhile, global and Canadian greenhouse gas emissions continue to spike, as do temperatures. Moreover, Harper’s government carries on promoting a 20th century view with fossil fuels the foundation of our economy, rather than pushing Canada to a more progressive and sustainable society and economy rooted in renewable sources of energy, good green jobs and clean technologies.     

New Democratic Party environment critic Megan Leslie said the Harper government is deliberately ignoring history by pushing for an agreement that it knows major developing countries will never accept.

The reality is, certain countries have contributed more emissions historically,” Ms. Leslie said. “And it is up to them to show leadership. It is the ethical thing to do.”