The Canadians crushed the small glimmer of optimism that came out of Durban’s COP17 talks as the country moved to protest its large fossil fuel reserves.

The decision shows while the United Nations backed climate talks can produce legally binding deals there’s little they can do if a country’s government decides it will simply pull out.

The international view amongst Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) is the Canadian’s pulled out of a new period of emissions cuts under the Kyoto Agreement due to the potential, and environmental damage, offered by its vast tar sands resources.

Unusually among leading countries Canada has no specific national energy policy and instead leaves decisions on power supplies down to state officials.

So while you’ve got Ontario pushing solar PV and Quebec almost entirely powered on hydro you also have Alberta with its tar sands.

The European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) said Canada’s decision was ‘deplorable’ and Friends of the Earth (FOE) Canada called it ‘shocking’ and ‘appalling’.

The UK’s Green Party also condemned the decision, its deputy leader, Adrian Ramsay, said: “The world’s richest countries, including Canada, must lead by example in taking practical steps to substantially reduce carbon emissions and avoid the worst effect of climate change.

“But this is also an opportunity for countries such as Canada and the UK to create more stable, more localised, low-carbon economies for the future.

“This is the long term thinking we need to address the climate crisis and the economic crisis at the same time – and avoid the huge financial, social and economic costs of runaway climate change.”

Luke Walsh

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