Canada's Environment Minister Peter Kent announced Monday that Canada is formally withdrawing from the Kyoto Protocol.
"Kyoto for Canada is in the past. As such, we are invoking our legal right to formally withdraw," Kent said at a news conference in the Parliament.
Kent said the decision to do so will save the Canadian Government an estimated 14 billion Canadian dollars ($13.6 billion) in penalties for failing to meet the targets set by Kyoto, adding that the Conservative government has no choice given the economic situation.
Blaming an "incompetent Liberal government" who signed the accord and then took little action to make the necessary greenhouse gas emission cuts, Kent said he was formalizing what the Conservative government has been saying for weeks.
He said repeatedly over the past few days that Kyoto "is in the past," and Canada would not agree to an extension of the accord, which expires next year.
Canada and the United States, which did not sign the Kyoto pact, have criticized the accord for leaving out some of the world's largest emitters.
Canada's withdrawal comes a day after 194 nations, including Canada, agreed in Durban, South Africa, to engage in talks for a new international climate deal, which would come into effect no later than 2020.
The Kyoto Protocol, which expires next year, committed major industrial economies to reducing their annual carbon dioxide emissions to below 1990 levels, while providing financial supports to developing nations to encourage them to follow suit eventually.
Canada ratified the accord in 1997 but since was not on track to meet its legally binding targets.
The Conservatives have committed to 17 percent cuts from 2005 levels by 2020, a much lower threshold to meet than cutting below 1990 emissions levels as set by the Kyoto Protocol.
(Xinhua News Agency December 12, 2011)