Durban, South Africa – Indications that Canada has now joined the list of countries abandoning the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol has thrown some gloom over the 192-party UN climate conference currently taking in Durban, South Africa.

Executive Director of the UNFCCC, Christiana Figueres said Wednesday that Canada had indicated their intention last year not to be part of the second commitment round of the global accord on tackling climate change when it expires at the end of 2012.

But Figueres said the UNFCCC has not received “notification” from Canada on their intention not to be part of the next commitment round.

Canada’s Environment Minister Peter Kent told a news conference in Montreal earlier this week that his country will not obstruct countries who want to take a second commitment of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, the only international treaty stipulating emissions cuts.

However, Canada – which joins Russia and Japan in not signing up for a second commitment period – was in favour of a new agreement, “which will eclipse Kyoto.”

Poorer nations have called for the Kyoto Protocol to be extended, but rich nations want a broader pact to include all the big polluters including India, China and Brazil. The European Union has proposed a new global deal on emissions cuts to be reached by 2015 and implemented by 2020.

The United States has never ratified the treaty.

With the Kyoto Protocol – which commits 37 industrial countries to limit carbon emissions – expiring at the end of 2012, talks at the conference in Africa’s multi-ethnic city have been dominated by the what-next speculation.

ALBA which unites eight countries, including the radical governments of Venezuela, Bolivia, Cuba, Ecuador and Nicaragua vowed to protect the Kyoto Protocol which the Latin American group said was in danger of being “lost.”

“We are very concerned … about the possibility of moving away from a very strict system, which is the Kyoto Protocol,” said Rene Orellana, the chief negotiator for Bolivia.

“We are very worried about some of the developed countries that not only don’t want to offer a higher level of ambition but also want to go out of the Kyoto Protocol. How are their commitments going to be ruled and monitored if there is no Kyoto?” Orellana asked.

The daily Eco Bulletin published by non-governmental organizations during the UN climate conference said Canada’s decision to formally withdraw from the Kyoto Protocol can only be seen as an unacceptable breach of trust in the global climate talks.

“With the intention to abandon Kyoto next month, Canada is negotiating in outrageously bad faith here in Durban. Countries should be asking why Canada is sitting at the Kyoto negotiating table with a hardly-secret plan to withdraw from the protocol. They should demand to know Canada’s position, and if they really are planning to let the world down, they should immediately leave the KP negotiations,” the Tuesday Bulletin said.

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