At the height of negotiations at the Durban Climate Change Conference in December 2011, Canada, one of the developed countries supporting climate change adaptation programmes in many developing countries including Nigeria opted out of the Kyoto Protocol. In this interview with Alex Abutu, David Ross, Development Counsellor, High Commission of Canada in Nigeria threw more light on reasons behind Canada’s action….
Why did Canada opt out of Kyoto Protocol?
The reason why Canada took the decision after careful consideration to withdraw from Kyoto was simply because it was becoming clear that the accord was real not working and at best only covers about 30 per cent of emission in key countries. Countries such as USA and China were not included in the Kyoto accord, we also know that other countries such as Russia had similar concern but Canada was the first country to take the decision but that does not mean that Canada was no longer committed to dealing with issues of climate change emission. We were in Durban, South Africa for the climate change conference and participated in the discussions and also accepted the so called Durban Platform. What we will like to see is a legally binding mechanism which will ensure that all countries are bound and committed to the same set of principles that some countries are not included why others countries are excluded so we will be happy to work towards that particular goal with all our partners be they developed or developing countries.
What is the implication of Canada’s decision on Kyoto Protocol on its climate change adaptation interventions in developing countries?
Opting out of Kyoto did not change our commitment to deal with climate change. We have stated that we will continue to discuss with our partners on how to arrive at a new treaty that is legally binding agreement. We will continue to do what we can domestically to reduce our emissions to deal with things domestically and continue to support efforts in developing countries such as Nigeria to deal with climate change and its implication and that is not going to stop our programme is not going to change.
What sort of legally instrument is Canada thinking of?
That is something that is still open to negotiations as was discuss at Durban. Kyoto was going to end anyway the question was whether it will be renewed. The concern we expressed was that it was not legally binding that some countries were not included. What we want to have is an international legally binding agreement in which all countries are included. So it is going to be some serious negotiations that will have to take place to arrive at that but we are committed at participating and will want to be part of it.
Articulating international protocols takes time… do we have that time in view of the impact of climate change?
Well am convincing that giving the seriousness of environmental issues generally and climate change in particular that all countries will be willing to participate. For example China which has no commitment under the Kyoto Protocol has come out to say it is willing to discuss issues of commitment so that is a welcome development.
Are we on track on promised financial commitments to developing countries to tackle impacts of climate change?
Well that is a matter of opinion and depend on how you measure it and as you probably know some area of climate change research are more contentious than others, as you know that is international commitment to taking action to ensure that the temperature rise was less than 2 degree cellious so there is a commitment on the part of the international community to deal with this such of things so I don’t see this as a problem.
But the start up fund promised at Copenhagen is still not coming?
I often get asked questions in different set of context about the commitment that certain countries may have made to certain particular issues those commitments are real but we have to recognise recent economic development in the last couple of years have severely affected the capacities of some countries to be able to respond to effectively on the short term even though they are still committed to dealing with not just the issue of climate change but other world issues.
Are developing countries taking initiatives that would enable them tackle the impact of climate change?
Yes what we are seeing is that there is a commitment on the part of developing countries to deal with the issues of climate change including here in Nigeria. One of the things we do need to look at is with the shift in the balance of economic powers around the world; some developing countries are better position to provide leadership in this area than some of the developed countries. We do feel that there is a major role for countries such as Nigeria, South Africa, India and Brazil can play in this area because this are the economies that are developing, that are expanding while some of our traditional economies are contracting.
So what role do you think Nigeria can play?
Nigeria has the potentials of being probably the economic power of house in all of Africa even surpassing South Africa and I think they can show leadership in a number of different areas, in the area of climate change we have a good relationship with Nigeria.