Business, Finance & Economics

Canada blasted at UN climate summit in Durban


People protest outside the a South African oil refinery in Durban on November 30, 2011 calling on the Canadian government to stop actively promoting tar sands development projects and to stop ignoring international commitments Canada has made to cut greenhouse gas emissions.



JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — Canada has been branded a villain at the UN climate summit in Durban, decried by everyone from Archbishop Desmond Tutu to the Chinese government for failing to work on global climate change issues.

China's official Xinhua news agency said Canada is "setting a bad example" to other developed countries, following reports that Ottawa is planning to pull out of the Kyoto Protocol.

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If Canada withdraws from Kyoto, a key issue at the two-week summit, "it will further hurt the international community's endeavor to cope with climate change" and "will definitely add to the obstacles in our negotiation," the Xinhua report said.

Canadian environment minister Peter Kent has refused to confirm or deny a Canadian television report that the country is planning to next month pull out of the Kyoto Protocol, the only legally binding international treaty on climate change.

Archbishop Tutu and other prominent Africans signed a petition against Canada, published as an ad in ECO, a daily newsletter at the conference, urging Canada to take action on climate change. 

The ad noted that in 1986, Canada supported the fight against apartheid by imposing sanctions.

"Now is the time for Canada to tackle climate change, which will impact millions of people, instead of supporting multinational oil companies," the ad said.

"Canada, you were once considered a leader on global issues like human rights and environmental protection. Today you’re home to polluting tar sands oil, speeding the dangerous effects of climate change. For us in Africa, climate change is a life and death issue," it said.

South Africa's Eyewitness News said Canada has "moved from hero in defending human rights to zero on environmental protection."

Canada on Monday was awarded the "Fossil of the Day" title at the climate summit, known as COP 17. The award is given by the group Climate Action Network to countries said to be blocking progress on negotiations.

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