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Canada will pull out of the Kyoto protocol on climate change, Environment Minister Peter Kent said on Monday, dealing a symbolic blow to the troubled global treaty.

Canada will become the first country to formally withdraw from Kyoto, which it says is badly flawed because it does not cover all major emitters of greenhouse gasses, notably the United States and China.

The news came as little surprise, especially since Mr Kent said last month that “Kyoto is the past.” The right-of-centre Conservatives took power in 2006 and made it clear they would not stick to Canada’s Kyoto commitments.

“As we’ve said, Kyoto for Canada is in the past … We are invoking our legal right to formally withdraw from Kyoto,” Mr Kent told reporters after returning from talks in Durban, South Africa, on extending the protocol.

He gave no details on when exactly Ottawa would pull out, but said Canada would be subject to enormous financial penalties under the terms of the treaty unless it withdrew.

The announcement will do little to help Canada’s growing reputation as an international renegade on the climate. Green groups awarded the country their Fossil of the Year award for its performance in Durban.

Ottawa says 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.

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