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Canada and the Kyoto Protocol: Who Says Quitters Never Win?

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.

In a victory for common sense, America's top trading partner has become the first country to bail on the Kyoto Protocol before the nearly $7 billion in noncompliance costs comes due next year. Thus ends a pointless and pricey exercise in martyrdom.

Having committed to reducing 1990-level carbon emissions by 6 percent, Canada somehow managed to go in the other direction by about a third. Not that anyone in Canada would have noticed by any tangible common-sense measure, except perhaps for all the Canadian plants and trees quietly cheering the abundance of carbon dioxide and overproducing fresh oxygen as a result.

So what, exactly, is the valid scientific reason for which a well-managed country with a natural-resource-based economy would purposely choose to sacrifice its competitive advantage amid economic uncertainty, particularly when oil and natural-resource competitor Russia has a mandate to reduce its emissions by exactly zero, and America wisely didn't even sign the agreement?

Environmentalism is all feel-good fun and games until taxpayers get mugged. Times and priorities have changed, and scammy nonsense like taxing and trading in plant food credits has lost its luster. Protesters are already complaining about Wall Street. We really don't need yet another (and even dodgier) market system for them to whine about.

Carbon reduction is just a luxury pastime, and arguably a useless one. Where can you breathe better -- "carbon-dumping" Canada, or Europe? I rest my case.

European countries have long been proudly fiddling with carbon credits both amongst themselves and on the world stage. Good for them. Given the current economic state of the euro zone, it's obvious they've been busy debating wallpaper samples while the bulldozer rolls full speed toward the house. Good luck saving the world when you can't pay the rent. Europe will probably keep trying to impose its moral example through climate-change activism, even when it's in debt to China and Russia, both of which have zero Kyoto obligations.

A developed country under the carbon tax system can choose to offset its guilt with actions rather than cash transfers to less-industrialized countries. Nice racket. So Canada may have been able to reduce its billions owed with "do-gooder credits," furiously running around the world planting trees, French-kissing rainbow trout, hosting one rock concert on arctic ice floes featuring Bono for every gigatonne of carbon spewed, or something else equally absurd.

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper reiterated at a Toronto press conference last week that his government was committed to working with the private sector in the ongoing development of emissions-reduction technology, thereby differentiating between a heartfelt, morally genuine effort and a crippling political imposition.

Existing gentlemen's agreements between provinces and American regions on emission reduction might be a fun distraction from practical life, like a badminton league or hockey pool. They should never have been parlayed into something that costs anyone more than a beer, let alone billions.

Canadian opposition parties predictably whined about not being allowed to tag along with the environment minister to the recent Durban summit, where they were hoping to run around profusely apologizing for the government's lack of sensitivity in saving Canadian taxpayers a multibillion-dollar bill.

The Liberal Party's environment critic, Kirsty Duncan, accused Harper's government of ignoring the "science" of this. "While the world emits 48 gigatonnes of carbon each year," she wrote, "most models suggest that emissions need to drop to 44 gigatonnes by 2020 to maintain a likely chance (66 percent) of remaining under 2 degrees Celsius."

Harper should have responded that this overwrought, overfunded reasoning can be alleviated, according to bought scientific consensus, by running 6 million to 11 million barrels of Canadian crude (or Molson Canadian beer) over a leftist brain at 40 degrees Celsius to maintain a 66 percent chance of reducing its temperature to 38 degrees Celsius by 2020.

The Socialist NDP official opposition leader added: "While the Harper Conservatives are causing Canada to fall behind, the rest of the world is moving forward in the new energy economy."

Good for "the rest of the world." Have fun playing with your new taxes. The rest of us have real problems to deal with.

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