The international community, as well as opposition MPs, took aim at the Harper government Tuesday over its announcement that Canada intends to withdraw from the Kyoto Protocol.

France, China and Japan all criticized the Canadian government's decision to pull out of the international climate-change accord, a move announced by Environment Minister Peter Kent on Monday.

A spokesperson for France's foreign ministry said Tuesday the decision is "bad news for the fight against climate change," while a spokesperson for China's foreign ministry called the move "regrettable and flies in the face of the efforts of the international community."

Goshi Hosono, Japan's environment minister, encouraged the Conservative government to reconsider its position.

Kent announced Monday that Canada would formally withdraw from Kyoto, saying the deal wasn't an effective global solution to climate change and perhaps even, "an impediment."

Kent's announcement came a day after a 194-party climate change conference in Durban, South Africa agreed to start negotiating a new deal to fight climate change. The fresh accord is scheduled to take effect by 2020 at the latest.

In the days leading up to the conference, Kent had repeatedly said the Kyoto accord "was in the past," and said Canada would not sign on to an extension of the deal.

The government came under fire for its announcement during question period in the House of Commons Tuesday.

Interim NDP Leader Nycole Turmel accused the Conservatives of "turning their back on the world" and "betraying future generations."

"They have set up bogus targets and are not even a quarter of the way towards meeting this lame attempt at saving face," Turmel said. "When will the prime minister take climate change seriously?"

Prime Minister Stephen Harper defended his government's record on the environment file, saying Canadian officials are working on the creation of an international protocol that will include all major emitters.

"What this government does not favour, what this government has never favoured and been very clear on, is we do not agree with a protocol that only controls a little bit of global emissions, not enough to actually make any difference but enough to transfer Canadian jobs overseas," he said. "We will never agree to that."

Also during question period, Kent defended the government's efforts to beef up environmental protections and enforcement after NDP MP Megan Leslie cited a report by the environment commissioner that said the Conservatives are falling behind in those areas.

Kent said the government accepts the commissioner's recommendations that it can do more to "address enforceability issues," but pointed out that they have increased enforcement capacity by 50 per cent since 2007.

The Liberals released a statement Tuesday saying the decision to pull out of Kyoto "has damaged our international reputation and made Canada a laughingstock."

May says Ottawa breaking the law

Meanwhile, Green Party Leader Elizabeth May is charging that the Conservative government is breaking the law by withdrawing from the Kyoto Protocol.

During a Tuesday news conference, May said Harper's government is breaching a domestic law in its decision to leave the international accord.

"The Kyoto Implementation Act was passed by the House of Commons in 2007 and has royal assent," she said. "It requires Canada to continue reporting and doing its job, fulfilling its obligations under the Kyoto Protocol."

A representative of the Green Party of Canada told that the Harper government is violating the Kyoto Implementation Act, according to an Oct. 4 report from Environment Commissioner Scott Vaughan.

May has referred to the timing of the withdrawal as perverse and said she believes the decision is tarnishing Canada's reputation on the world stage.

Kent had said that Canada will save $14 billion by withdrawing and dodging potential penalties associated with not meeting emissions targets. That total, however, has been under dispute.

"Staying in the Kyoto Protocol will not cost us a cent," May said in a released statement. "What will cost billions is if we do nothing to address climate change."

According to May, there is still time for Canada to reverse it's stance on the Kyoto deal. She said the nation's "legal intent to withdraw" letter doesn't take effect for a year.