Globe Article and Reader Comments

Last week, I summarized my two (#1 and #2) posts on Kyoto compliance and withdrawal into a shorter piece on the Globe and Mail’s Economy Lab.  One of my regular readers, who unfortunately prefers to remain in anonymity and wrap his/her sometimes insightful comments in insults and derision, points out that there are important differences in timing between the Kyoto compliance period and the period in which penalties for non-compliance would be levied.

In my Globe and Mail article, I stated that, “Canada would be given 100 days after the 2014 review of our emissions inventories to buy international credits to make up the 805 Mt shortfall…(after which time) the penalty for non-compliance implies that Canada would be responsible to make up the shortfall of 805 Mt, plus 30 per cent, in a second commitment period after 2012.”  I based my statements on an authoritative source on the issue, a UNFCC clarification on, “The Compliance Procedure with respect to Canada,” which states that:

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.

My anonymous reader clarifies that there are timing considerations other than the 100 day period due to delays in assessments and appeals. The timing he/she suggests is:

Canada’s 2012 GHG inventory submitted April 15, 2014.
+ Inventory expert review = 12 months = April 15, 2015
+ True up period (to buy carbon permits to cover the emissions) = 100 days = circa July 25, 2015
+Compliance assessment calculations and notification of non compliance calculation(quick)
+ 10 weeks for non-compliant party to dispute non compliance calculation = circa October 10, 2015
+ 4 weeks for enforcement branch of compliance committee to issue preliminary finding = circa November 10, 2015
+ 10 weeks for party to dispute preliminary finding = circa January 25, 2016.
+ 4 weeks for enforcement branch to issue final decision = February 25, 2016.

As such, his/her contention is that penalties for non-compliance would not be assessed before February, 2016, thus negating the gains to withdrawal from the Kyoto protocol before the end of December, 2011.  This certainly provides valuable context to the decision Canada faces, but I don’t believe it changes the core factor that Canada has little or nothing to gain from remaining in the Kyoto Protocol when it has made no measurable efforts to achieve its targets, but also limited losses from remaining in Kyoto given that penalties for non-compliance involve a tightening of second period commitments which Canada has clearly indicated it will not be taking on.

As always, I welcome your comments and feedback.  When I started this blog, I was very clear that one of the intentions was, “for me to solidify my thinking on policy issues and subject my thinking to a form of peer review from you.” That hasn’t changed.

 

9 responses to “Globe Article and Reader Comments”

  1. Canada out of Kyoto - Beyond The Commons, Capital Read - Macleans.ca

    […] from Andrew here and […]

  2. Rundle in NYC

    The name of the anonymous reader is Christopher R McDermott

  3. McDermott in NYC

    For reasons that have already been explained, if the purpose of today’s Kyoto withdraw was to avoid “penalties”, the withdraw didn’t need to occur now. Practically speaking, it could have occurred as late as April 2013 (1 year before the submission of the 2012 GHG inventory)through early 2015 (1 year before the non-compliance decision is applied).

    Secondly, there is the question of whether there are really any penalties to avoid?

    For starters, Kyoto does not invoke financial penalties if the target is not met. Rather, if a target isn’t met, the deficit plus 30% is added to a country’s reduction target for the second commitment period. If a country doesn’t commit to a second commitment period target — something Canada has already said it won’t do — then there is no target to add to.

    Moreover, there’s a not-well-understood legal glitch which makes the application of the penalities even more tenuous — Although he Kyoto Protocol is a legally binding treaty (since its been ratified and has entered into force) the consequences for non compliance are not legally binding. Article 18 of the Kyoto Protocol (Compliance) quite clearly says “Any procedures and mechanisms under this Article entailing binding consequences shall be adopted by means of an amendment to this Protocol”.

    The Protocol was never amended to make the consequences binding, ergo, they are not binding.

    So Canada didn’t need to withdraw to avoid penalities and it certainly didn’t need to do it now.

    Canada withdrew because Conservatives and Alberta hate Kyoto. Plain and Simple. They hate everything it represents: Jean Chretien, Liberals, Multilateral Institutions, Europeans and their LCFS, and most of all global efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (since they still don’t have a clue what to do about all that CO2 coming off the oil sands).

    And they withdrew today because Kyoto was extended as part of the Durban agreement and they didn’t like that — Today’s withdraw was their way of showing just how much they didn’t approve of one part of the Durban agreement.

  4. Rundle in NYC

    For reasons that have already been explained, if the purpose of today’s Kyoto withdraw was to avoid “penalties”, the withdraw didn’t need to occur now. Practically speaking, it could have occurred as late as April 2013 (1 year before the submission of the 2012 GHG inventory)through early 2015 (1 year before the non-compliance decision is applied).

    Secondly, there is the question of whether there are really any penalties to avoid?

    For starters, Kyoto does not invoke financial penalties if the target is not met. Rather, if a target isn’t met, the deficit plus 30% is added to a country’s reduction target for the second commitment period. If a country doesn’t commit to a second commitment period target — something Canada has already said it won’t do — then there is no target to add to.

    Moreover, there’s a not-well-understood legal glitch which makes the application of the penalities even more tenuous — Although he Kyoto Protocol is a legally binding treaty (since its been ratified and has entered into force) the consequences for non compliance are not legally binding. Article 18 of the Kyoto Protocol (Compliance) quite clearly says “Any procedures and mechanisms under this Article entailing binding consequences shall be adopted by means of an amendment to this Protocol”.

    The Protocol was never amended to make the consequences binding, ergo, they are not binding.

    So Canada didn’t need to withdraw to avoid penalities and it certainly didn’t need to do it now.

    Canada withdrew because Conservatives and Alberta hate Kyoto. Plain and Simple. They hate everything it represents: Jean Chretien, Liberals, Multilateral Institutions, Europeans and their LCFS, and most of all global efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (since they still don’t have a clue what to do about all that CO2 coming off the oil sands).

    And they withdrew today because Kyoto was extended as part of the Durban agreement and they didn’t like that — Today’s withdraw was their way of showing just how much they didn’t approve of one part of the Durban agreement.

  5. richard

    “but I don’t believe it changes the core factor that Canada has little or nothing to gain from remaining in the Kyoto Protocol when it has made no measurable efforts to achieve its target”

    But if Rundle in NY is correct about the agreement, then there is also little or nothing to lose by remaining in the Protocol. That would seem to underline Rundle’s comment: ‘Canada withdrew because Conservatives and Alberta hate Kyoto. Plain and simple. They hate everything it represents’

  6. Rundle in NYC

    “but I don’t believe it changes the core factor that Canada has little or nothing to gain from remaining in the Kyoto Protocol when it has made no measurable efforts to achieve its target”

    I think the extent of the attention and international criticism we’ve witnessed in the press over the last few days have shown that the above quote was somewhat naive.

    Indeed, Canada had something to gain from staying in the Treaty: keeping its powder dry with the international community and not pissing everyone off.

    When you are trying to develop a controversial asset like the oil sands, friends matter.

  7. Rundle in NYC

    Andrew,

    Unlike myself, its quite clear that you have never faced the wrath of the Alberta/Conservative machine.

    If you had, you’d understand their level of intense hatred for all things “Kyoto”

    If you had, you also wouldn’t be surprised about the level of showmanship of surrounding the withdraw.

    You see Andrew, when people really, really hate something, the expression of hatred is intended for prime time — just look at the terrorists who attacked the WTC in my fair city — the attack was staged during prime time — not on a holiday when everyone was eating turkey.

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