In yesterday’s post I had equated withdrawal from the Kyoto Protocol with not agreeing to targets under a second commitment period. I’ve since gotten clarification on a couple of aspects of this.
1. At any time after three years from the date on which this Protocol has entered into force for a Party, that Party may withdraw from this Protocol by giving written notification to the Depositary.
2. Any such withdrawal shall take effect upon expiry of one year from the date of receipt by the Depositary of the notification of withdrawal, or on such later date as may be specified in the notification of withdrawal.
3. Any Party that withdraws from the Convention shall be considered as also having withdrawn from this Protocol.
Here, the convention is the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, which defines all of the annual regulatory emissions filing requirements. So, there clearly is an option for Canada to formally withdraw.
Why would Canada do this? Well, as this Canadian Press article points out, the key reason is likely to avoid an explicit finding of non-compliance – the analog which immediately jumps to mind is a student dropping a course they are likely to fail. The compliance determination for Kyoto takes place after 2012, as described in the Federal Government’s initial filing under the Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act:
The first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol begins January 1, 2008, and ends December 31, 2012. Kyoto Protocol Annex B Parties are required to submit their annual greenhouse gas emissions data in the form of a national inventory report, the first of which will be due on April 15, 2010, with the final report for 2012 due on April 15, 2014. The degree to which a ratifying Party has met its emissions reduction obligations under the Kyoto Protocol will be assessed after its final report has been filed in 2014.
An Expert Review Team will examine and record each country’s total emissions for the commitment period (2008-2012), along with final accounting quantities for land use, land-use change and forestry activities. Once the expert review process has been completed for all Parties, a 100-day “additional period for fulfillment of commitments” will begin. This period is intended to provide Parties with the opportunity to undertake and finalize the transactions necessary to achieve compliance with Article 3, paragraph 1, of the Kyoto Protocol. The specific date when the 100-day period begins will be determined by the Conference of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol prior to 2014.
So, if the Government is not party to the Protocol by the time it expires at the end of 2012, this compliance review would not occur, and so Canada would not be in non-compliance with Kyoto. Even if Canada does not withdraw formally from Kyoto, we would not technically be found to be in non-compliance until at least the year 2014. That’s a lot of negatives, but I hope you get the point.
What would happen if Canada were found to be in non-compliance with Kyoto? This document, provided to me by Craig McInnes at the Vancouver Sun, outlines the implications as follows:
13) Non-compliance with emissions targets is not an issue that can come before the enforcement branch until after the end of the commitment period in 2012.
a. A country in non-compliance with its 2012 target has 100 days after the expert review of its final emissions inventory to make up any shortfall (i.e., to buy credits).
b. If such a country still misses its target, it must make up the difference, plus 30%, in the second commitment period after 2012. It is also suspended from selling emissions credits in the emissions trading mechanism and within 3 months, it must submit a plan on the action it will take to meet second commitment period target.
14) There are no financial penalties under the Kyoto Protocol, nor is there any consequence which involves loss of credits (although there is a loss of access to the carbon market).
So, Canada would face a requirement to reduce emissions further below its second commitment period targets, which haven’t been established and to which we are unlikely to commit.