Canada has announced its intention to withdraw from the Kyoto
treaty on greenhouse gas emissions (
), sandbagging the other signatories to the convention. The Kyoto
protocol, initially adopted in Kyoto, Japan in 1997, was designed
to combat global warming with the agreement allowing countries
like China and India take voluntary, but non-binding steps to
reduce their greenhouse gas carbon emissions.
International condemnation was swift.
China's Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin said at a news
briefing, "It is regrettable and flies in the face of the efforts
of the international community for Canada to leave the Kyoto
Protocol at a time when the Durban meeting, as everyone knows,
made important progress by securing a second phase of commitment
to the Protocol. We also hope that Canada will face up to its due
responsibilities and duties, and continue abiding by its
commitments, and take a positive, constructive attitude towards
participating in international cooperation to respond to climate
Xinhua, China's state news agency, labeled Ottawa's decision
"preposterous, an excuse to shirk responsibility" and implored
the Canadian government to reverse its decision so it could help
reduce global emissions of GGEs.
Beijing's comments are significant, not least because the PRC
is currently the world's biggest producer of GGEs after the U.S.,
but China has stalwartly insisted that the Kyoto Protocol remain
the foundation of the world's efforts to curb GGE emissions,
which scientists maintain are a significant contributor to global
warming. Pleading its special status as a developing nation China
at the recently concluded climate change negotiations in Durban
was granted an extension of the terms of implementing the Kyoto
protocol until 2017 even as it bowed to pressure to launch later
talks for a new pact to succeed the Kyoto protocol that would
legally oblige all the big GGE producers to act.
Japan also expressed displeasure at the Canadian decision, but
in a more nuanced approach, Japanese Environment Minister Goshi
Hosono urged Canada to continue to support the Kyoto agreement,
which included "important elements" that could help fight climate
UN climate chief Christiana Figueres opined in a statement
released to the press, "I regret that Canada has announced it
will withdraw and am surprised over its timing. Whether or not
Canada is a party to the Kyoto Protocol, it has a legal
obligation under the convention to reduce its emissions, and a
moral obligation to itself and future generations to lead in the
A spokesman for France's Foreign Ministry called Canada's
decision "bad news for the fight against climate change."
Even plucky Southern Pacific island nation Tuvalu weighed in
with its lead negotiator Ian Fry bluntly stating in an e-mail to
Reuters, "For a vulnerable country like Tuvalu, it's an act of
sabotage on our future. Withdrawing from the Kyoto Protocol is a
reckless and totally irresponsible act."
The silence from Washington on the issue was significant, as
the United States Bush administration refused to sign the
protocol, arguing instead that China and other big emerging
emitters should come under a legally binding framework that does
away with the either-or distinction between advanced and
Toughing it out, Canadian Minister of the Environment Peter
Kent stated that the protocol "does not represent a way forward,"
adding that meeting Canada's obligations under the Kyoto
convention would cost $13.6 billion, asserting, "That's $1,546
from every Canadian family - that's the Kyoto cost to Canadians,
that was the legacy of an incompetent Liberal government."
nevertheless has garnered a few supporters. Australian
Minister of Climate Change Greg Combet has defended Canada's
decision, remarking, "The Canadian decision to withdraw from the
protocol should not be used to suggest Canada does not intend to
play its part in global efforts to tackle climate change." One
might note here that coal is Australia's third largest
So, why the abrupt Canadian volte-face? Canada has the world's
third-largest oil reserves, more than 170 billion barrels and is
the largest supplier of oil and natural gas to the U.S.
The answer may lie in Canada's far north, in Alberta's massive
bitumen tar sands deposits, a resource that Ottawa has been
desperate to develop. Since 1997 some of the world's biggest
energy producers have spent $120 billion in developing Canada's
oil tar sands, which would be at risk if Ottawa went green in
sporting the Kyoto accords.
According to the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers,
more than 170 billion barrels of oil sands reserves now are
considered economically viable for recovery using current
technology. Current Canadian daily oil sands production is 1.5
million barrels per day (bpd), but Canadian boosters are
optimistic that production can be ramped up to 3.7 million bpd by
So, what's the problem?
Extracting oil from tar sands is an environmentally dirty
process and the resultant fuel has a larger carbon footprint than
petroleum derived from traditional fossil fuels, producing from 8
to 14 percent more CO2 emissions, depending on which scientific
study you read.
So, Canada acceding to the Kyoto Treaty terms would
effectively kill the burgeoning Canadian tar sands extraction
industry. The Canadian tar sands already suffered a massive
setback earlier this year when the Obama administration
effectively sidelined the Keystone XL pipeline, which was due to
transports tar oil production across the U.S. to refineries on
the Gulf Coast.
So, Ottawa on the Kyoto convention has effectively drawn its
line in the sand(s.)
Where things go from here is anyone's guess.
By. John C.K. Daly of
Iraq: An Army of Soldiers to be Replaced by an Army of
After nearly nine years, all US Forces are mandated to
withdraw from Iraqi territory by 31 December 2011 under the terms
of a bilateral agreement signed in 2008. Now the job facing the
war-torn country is to re-build its economy. On Tuesday, prime
minister Nouri al-Maliki gave a presentation to more than 400
executives representing a wide range of industries including
petroleum, engineering and construction, commercial aviation,
architecture, maritime cargo and financial services; the leaders
of American commerce and industry, to proclaim Iraq's "limitless"
opportunities "open for business" to American investors. He said
that, "It is not now the generals but the businessmen and the
corporations that are at the forefront" of Iraq's future.
Maliki was basically playing the role of a salesman, pitching
his country to "the West". He announced that "circumstances (in
the country) have improved because of better security," yet still
acknowledged the difficulties ahead of developing a market-based
economy governed by transparency laws and international
regulations after the planned and strictly controlled economy of
Saddam Hussein. Thomas Nides, the Deputy Secretary of State, told
CNN "Make no mistake, this is a country that's developing, its
commerce is developing, it's going to take time, it's going to
take energy," but, "U.S. companies are going there because they
believe they can make money and at the end of the day that's what
it is about."
For the first few months of 2011, as the war was slowing down
and the forces were leaving the country in greater numbers, total
foreign direct investment in Iraq reached $70 billion. The United
States represented 11.6% with $8 billion of investment, up from
nearly $2 billion in 2010. However Milaki has stated that "he is
not satisfied with the number of US corporations in Iraq. All
sectors of the economy are there, open for business, for American
Despite all the desire for an increase in investment, Iraq has
not previously been hospitable to US business offers. Two years
ago the Iraqi government auctioned oil production contracts, but
many members of Congress were outraged as not a single US energy
firm secured a deal. Instead they were forced to watch as
lucrative multi-billion-dollar contracts went to Russian and
Iraq wants to try and diversify its economy to focus on
financial, medical, agricultural, educational and infrastructural
services, but oil still remains the dominant sector. The country
boasts (mostly) untapped oil reserves of at least 115 billion
barrels of oil, the fourth largest in the world, and therefore
foreign oil companies have been chomping at the bit to return.
Current output is about 2.5 million barrels per day, but
according to OPEC could nearly be doubled by 2016.
Following times of conflict there generally dawns a period
where those with the necessary resources can make billions. Iraq
is just entering such a period and the government is actively
searching for those people with the necessary resources. The IMF
has already projected that the Iraqi economy could grow at a
faster pace than China or India over the next two to three years.
It is the perfect time to invest and help create a well balanced,
modern country, as well as secure a stake in the worlds fourth
largest oil reserves.
By. James Burgess of