Canada will formally withdraw its stand from the Kyoto Protocol on climate change, the country's minister of the environment Peter Kent has said, making it the first nation to pull out of the global treaty.
The protocol "does not represent a way forward for Canada" and would have forced it to take "radical and irresponsible choices", Mr. Kent said in Toronto on Monday.
He added that it was a mistake for Canada to have signed up for Kyoto: "As we have said, Kyoto for Canada is in the past ... We are invoking our legal right to formally withdraw from Kyoto."
"The Kyoto protocol does not cover the world's two largest emitters, China and the US, and therefore cannot work," he said.
China, which argues that it should be exempt from emissions reduction targets because it is a developing nation, said Canada's decision was "regrettable" and went against international efforts to tackle climate change.
"We hope Canada will face up to its responsibilities and obligations, honour its commitments and actively participate in relevant international co-operation against climate change," a Chinese foreign ministry spokesman said.
Megan Leslie, environment spokesperson for Canada's opposition New Democratic Party said the government was abdicating its international responsibilities.
"We all knew the rumours. We all heard the reports that Canada planned to withdraw from Kyoto, and so today we actually saw it laid out before us," she said.
Canada's former Liberal government signed up to Kyoto, which obliged the country to cut emissions to six per cent below 1990 levels by 2012. By 2009, emissions were 17 per cent above the 1990 levels.
Canada's delegation said little during recent climate talks in South Africa where countries agreed to extend the Kyoto protocol and hammer out a new deal to force big polluters to cut greenhouse emissions.
Canada has said it backs a new global deal to cut emissions of greenhouse gases, but insists it has to cover all nations, including China and India, which are not bound by Kyoto's current targets.