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CANADA

France slams Canadian Kyoto withdrawal

Canada's decision to withdraw from the Kyoto protocol is "bad news" for global efforts against climate change, the French foreign ministry said on Tuesday.

“Canada’s announcement that it is withdrawing from the Kyoto protocol is bad news for the fight against climate change,” ministry spokesman Bernard Valero told journalists.

“It is out of the question to relax our efforts or to break the dynamic of the Durban agreement,” he said.

Canada on Monday became the first country to declare it was formally exiting the pact, a reversal that will save it billions of dollars in fines, and poured scorn on the landmark treaty for hampering attempts to tackle pollution.

But the decision provoked heavy criticism, including from China which said the move went against international efforts to combat climate change.

Canada’s decision follows a deal reached in Durban this month to create a roadmap that will for the first time bring all major greenhouse-gas emitters under a single legal roof. If approved as scheduled in 2015, it will become operational in 2020.

Canada agreed under the Kyoto Protocol to reduce CO2 emissions to 6.0 percent below 1990 levels by 2012, but its emissions of the gases blamed for damaging Earth’s fragile climate system have instead increased sharply.

The landmark pact reached in 1997 is the only global treaty that sets down targeted curbs in global emissions.

But those curbs apply only to rich countries, excluding the United States – which has refused to ratify the accord.

CLIMATE CRISIS

Scorching summer was France’s second hottest on record

Three heatwaves since June produced France's second-hottest summer since records began in 1900, the Météo France weather service said on Tuesday, warning that scorching temperatures will be increasingly common as the climate crisis intensifies.

Scorching summer was France's second hottest on record

With 33 days of extreme heat overall, average temperatures for June, July and August were 2.3C above normal for the period of 1991-2020.

It was surpassed only by the 2003 heatwave that caught much of France unprepared for prolonged scorching conditions, leading to nearly 15,000 heat-related deaths, mainly among the elderly.

Data is not yet available for heat-related deaths this summer, but it is likely to be significantly lower than 15,000 thanks to preventative measures taken by local and national authorities. 

Most experts attribute the rising temperatures to the climate crisis, with Météo France noting that over the past eight summers in France, six have been among the 10-hottest ever.

By 2050, “we expect that around half of summer seasons will be at comparable temperatures, if not higher,” even if greenhouse gas emissions are contained, the agency’s research director Samuel Morin said at a press conference.

The heat helped drive a series of wildfires across France this summer, in particular a huge blaze in the southwest that burned for more than a month and blackened 20,000 hectares. 

Unusually, wildfires also broke out even in the normally cooler north of the country, and in total an area five times the size of Paris burned over the summer. 

Adding to the misery was a record drought that required widespread limits on water use, with July the driest month since 1961 – many areas still have water restrictions in place.

MAP: Where in France are there water restrictions and what do they mean?

Forecasters have also warned that autumn storms around the Mediterranean – a regular event as air temperatures cool – will be unusually intense this year because of the very high summer temperatures. A storm that hit the island of Corsica in mid August claimed six lives. 

“The summer we’ve just been through is a powerful call to order,” Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne said on Monday, laying out her priorities for an “ecological planning” programme to guide France’s efforts against climate change.

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