Canada and the Kyoto Protocol - a timeline
Prime Minister Jean Chretien finishes putting his signature to Canada's instrument of the ratification of the Kyoto Protcol during a ceremony in his office on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Monday, Dec. 16, 2002.(CP PHOTO/Fred Chartrand)
Published Monday, December 5, 2011 12:48PM EST
Canada's Environment Minister Peter Kent has announced it will not renew its commitment to the Kyoto Protocol designed to fight global warming.
Here is the agreement's history, with a particular focus on Canada:
- 1992 - The Earth Summit in Rio De Janiero, whose secretary-general was Canadian Maurice F. Strong, produced the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. It called for greenhouse gas emission reductions, but wasn't binding.
- 1997 - The Kyoto Protocol, flowing from the UN Convention on Climate Change, is developed in Japan.
The deal committed Canada and 36 of the world's other most industrialized countries to cut their carbon emissions by an average of 5.2 per cent below their 1990 emissions by the end of 2012.
Developing countries such as China and India signed the accord but weren't required to make cuts in emissions, the argument being that developed countries have created most of world’s the emissions. Major developing countries were expected to begin emissions reductions in any future phase of Kyoto.
- April 28, 1998 - Canada under Liberal Prime Minister Jean Chretien, becomes one of the first countries to sign the legally-binding accord. It committed Canada to cut its carbon emissions by 6 per cent below its 1990 baseline by the end of 2012.
- The then-Canadian Alliance party opposed Kyoto, as did the Progressive Conservative party. Both would merge to form the current Conservative party.
- October 2000 - Federal government releases its "Action Plan 2000 on climate change," a $500-million program
- March 2001 - Newly-elected Republican President George W. Bush pulled the United States out of the Kyoto agreement, saying it would damage the U.S. economy.
The U.S. was the world's largest total emitter at that time. The U.S., Canada, Australia and Luxembourg were the top per-capita emitters.
- March 2002 - Bush unveils a "Clean Skies" initiative, which is primarily about reducing acid rain and other forms of air pollution.
- 2002 - Stephen Harper, then the Alliance's leader, issues a letter declaring what he called the "battle of Kyoto -- our campaign to block the job-killing, economy-destroying Kyoto Accord."
- Nov. 21, 2002 - Ottawa releases its "Climate Change Plan for Canada."
- Dec. 17, 2002 - Canada formally ratified participation in the Kyoto treaty.
- June 28, 2004 - The Liberals emerged from the federal election with a minority government under new Prime Minister Paul Martin.
- Sept. 30, 2004 - Russia approves Kyoto. For the treaty to become law, 55 countries representing 55 per cent of emissions had to sign and ratify it, so Russia's move made Kyoto law.
As 2004 ended, Canada's emissions were about 27 per cent above the 1990 baseline. Its population grew 15 per cent and the GDP about 47 per cent over that period.
- Feb. 16, 2005 - Kyoto officially becomes law. Failure to comply with a Kyoto target means a 30 per cent penalty would be tacked on in the next version of the treaty. A country in violation wouldn't be able to use emission credits.
- April 2005 - The Liberals table a plan that would have made Canada Kyoto-compliant, but would have done so by purchasing emissions credits abroad.
- Jan. 23, 2006 - The Conservative Party takes power with a minority government. Stephen Harper becomes prime minister and his government drops the Liberals' Kyoto compliance plan.
- February 2007 - The International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) releases a report that says it is 90 per cent certain that global warming is being caused by the human burning of fossil fuels. A similar report released in 2001 had put the certainty level at 66 per cent.
- Feb. 8, 2007 - Environment Minister John Baird said the government will not attempt to meet Canada's Kyoto carbon reduction targets. He also announced a plan to regulate heavy-emitting industries under the Conservatives' Clean Air Act.
- 2007 - China overtakes the U.S. as the world's largest total emitter of carbon; however, the average American still produced four times the emissions of the average Chinese citizen.
- Oct. 14, 2008 - The Conservatives are returned to power with a strengthened minority government.
- May 2009 - Canada decides to harmonize its climate-change regulations with the U.S., meaning it won't even start enforcing them until 2015.
- December 2009 - The world's nations reach a non-binding compromise toward replacing the Kyoto Protocol during negotiations in Copenhagen. The focus was on helping developing countries adapt to climate change.
- December 2010 - Prime Minister Stephen Harper said ahead of climate talks in Cancun, Mexico that his government wants a binding agreement that requires emissions cuts from all major emitters, including developing countries.
- May 2, 2011 - The Conservatives win a majority government in the federal election.
- Nov. 28, 2011 - Environment Minister Peter Kent said he is "neither confirming nor denying" that the federal government will pull out Canada out of its Kyoto commitment. But he added, "Kyoto is in the past."
Kent's Nov. 28 remarks came before new climate talks got underway in Durban, South Africa.