Federal court backs Ottawa's decision to abandon Kyoto
FILE - Environment Minister Peter Kent (The Canadian Press)
Published Tuesday, July 17, 2012 1:42PM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, July 17, 2012 2:34PM EDT
The federal court has backed the government’s decision to pull out of the Kyoto Protocol, rejecting an argument Tuesday that Ottawa broke the law by abandoning the climate change pact.
An application was filed to the court on Dec. 15, 2011, by Daniel Turp, a former Bloc Quebecois MP and Parti Quebecois MNA, asking the court to review the government's decision to leave Kyoto.
Turp argued that the decision was "illegal, null and void" because it was in violation of the Parliament-approved Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act, as well as "the principle of the rule of law, the principle of the separation of powers, and the democratic principle."
The court rejected that argument on Tuesday. Justice Simon Noel’s ruling said the government was within its "royal prerogative" to withdraw from Kyoto, regardless of the implementation act that was earlier passed in Parliament.
"The government had thus acted in accordance with the Protocol, the KPIA, and the rule of law," said the judgment.
Turp had also maintained Ottawa should have consulted the provinces before backing out of Kyoto, but the federal court ruled the provinces themselves would have to make that argument, as opposed to a third-party.
Environment Minister Peter Kent announced in December that Canada was withdrawing from Kyoto, saying the international accord “is not the path forward for a global solution to climate change.” Kent and the Conservatives have long argued Kyoto is an impediment to finding a solution to climate change because the world’s largest polluters, China and the U.S., are not members of the pact.
Kent also said it is impossible for Canada to meet its targets under the accord by next year, when it expires, and it didn’t make economic sense to pay the monetary penalties -- up to $14 billion -- for failing to live up to its obligations under the accord.
Critics have said Canada’s decision to withdraw weakens the entire accord, and sets a bad example for other countries struggling to meet their commitments to reduce emissions.