Canada and the Kyoto Protocol: An Aesop Fable
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This chapter attempts to explain why Canada, a country whose citizens like to think of themselves as progressive in matters of both international cooperation and environmental protection, has waivered in the performance of its commitments under the Kyoto Protocol and ultimately withdrawn entirely from it. We suggest that Canada’s inconsistency reflects not so much a change of heart of Canadians as a change of political leadership at the federal level. For much of the period, Canada was governed by a left-of-centre government which enthusiastically supported the Protocol. However, it did so in a way that alienated most of the provinces, particularly in the west, and tied the hands of future federal governments. And in 2006 – just a year after Kyoto came into force – the pro-Kyoto government was replaced in Ottawa by a right-of-centre anti-Kyoto one, which set about dismantling previous climate change initiatives and replacing them with their own, less stringent ones. Paradoxically, Canada’s emissions rose steadily in the first period and fluctuated downward in the latter. We suggest this is due more to the actions taken at the provincial level than to actions or inactions at the federal level.