As the shortage of natural resources was a major concern for political economists in the ninetieth century, environmental impact of economic growth is a major concern that emerged in the twenty first century among environmental protectors, economists, and other world leaders in the Western society.
Our economic and industrial growth hasunfortunately come along with the overuse of natural resources of land, water, and air. Over time, industrial growth has also produced raising levels of pollution and toxic gas emissions. This industrial pollution has harmed and continue to harm our environment to the extend of threatening life on earth (species extinction, nuclear radiation…). The Japanese latest disaster of high levels of nuclearradiations exposure is a very accurate example.
While people’s awareness is rising regarding the issue of environement, the key issue remains in how to address economic interests versus environmental interests either seen as a conflict or a complementary successful business process.
Today, economic growth should be accompanied with sustainable development. In other words, in achieving economicgrowth, our natural resource base should not be depleted and our capacity to absorb waste should not be reduced. To achieve this goal, a holistic and global approach must be conceived.
Ensuring environmental sustainability become therefore one of the Millennium Development goals (MDGs) for the United Nations along with new environmental treaties, agreements, and protocols.
The Kyoto Protocol, isa protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, adopted in late 1997, to address the problem of global warming by reducing the world's greenhouse gas emissions (a goal for a 5.2 % reduction from 1990 levels was set). Under this international agreement that went into effect in 2005, all participating nations committed themselves to tackle this environmental issue takingresponsible actions, preparing policies, and reporting on an annual basis.
While Canada and the United Stated are among the top ten greenhouse gas emitters in the world (Figure 1 below), they didn’t follow the same path regarding Kyoto Protocol.
Canada was one of the first countries to sign Kyoto Protocol in 1998 and formally signed its ratification in 2002. The Canadian liberal governmentcalling it at the time: “an important milestone in Canada’s contribution to addressing climate changes”. Canada believed that ratification of Kyoto Protocol would in one hand, set legally binding targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and on the other hand, reduce greenhouse gases more cheaply within the context of an international system.
Concretely, in adopting Kyoto treaty, Canadapledged to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions 6% below 1990 levels by the 5 years commitment period of 2008 to 2012. It proposed a three-stage strategy to achieve that goal through a combination of incentives, regulations and tax measures.
However for its North American neighbor, the United States didn’t ratify Kyoto Protocol. In 2001, newly elected President George W. Bush formally withdrew theU.S. from Kyoto Protocol stating that it would damage the U.S. economy and major developing nations like China and India were not covered by its provisions . Instead, the United States came up with their own approaches in reducing toxic emissions.
Actually, India and China, two countries among the world's fastest growing polluters (Fig1), have signed Kyoto protocol, but considered as developingcountries with other serious problems, they were not required to make emissions cuts until after 2012.
Besides, other criticisms were rising on Kyoto’s protocol limitations in achieving political and economic realities. Canada, for instance, feared for its economy to be disadvantaged and pay a heavy price meeting Kyoto’s commitments. They compete directly with their neighbor, the United...