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Canada, Out Of Kyoto, Must Still Cut Emissions, UN Says

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* Canada pulls out a day after UN climate talks end

* Canada has legal obligation to reduce emissions-UN

(Adds reaction from Mexico and United States)

LONDON, Dec 13 (Reuters) - Canada still has a legal
obligation under United Nations rules to cut its emissions
despite the country's pullout from the Kyoto Protocol, the U.N.
climate chief said on Tuesday.

Christiana Figueres also said the timing of Canada's move, a
day after a deal to extend the protocol was clinched at a U.N.
summit in South Africa, was regrettable and surprising.

Canada on Monday withdraw from Kyoto, dealing a symbolic
blow to the treaty, with environment minister Peter Kent
breaking the news just after his return from talks in Durban.

"Whether or not Canada is a party to the Kyoto Protocol, it
has a legal obligation under the (U.N. framework on climate
change) convention to reduce its emissions, and a moral
obligation to itself and future generations to lead in the
global effort," Figueres said.

Canada, a major energy producer which critics say is
becoming a climate renegade, has long complained Kyoto is
unworkable because it excludes so many significant emitters.

Industrialized countries whose emissions have risen
significantly since 1990, like Canada, remain in a weaker
position to call on developing countries to limit their
emissions, Figueres said.

"I regret that Canada has announced it will withdraw and am
surprised over its timing," Figueres said in a statement.

On Sunday, more than 190 countries agreed to extend Kyoto
for at least five years and hammered out a new deal forcing all
big polluters for the first time to limit greenhouse gas
emissions.

Kyoto's first phase, due to expire at the end of next year
but now extended until 2017, imposed limits only on developed
countries, not emerging giants such as China and India. The
United States never ratified it.

The Canadian government said it would be subject to
penalties equivalent to C$14 billion ($13.6 billion) under the
terms of the treaty for not cutting emissions by the required
amount by 2012.

"DESPAIR"

China and Japan said on Tuesday that Canada's decision was
regrettable and called on it to continue to abide by its
commitments on climate change.

Closer to home, reactions were divided. Mexican
Environment Minister Juan Rafael Elvira Quesada asked Kent to
reconsider his decision, saying the withdrawal could create
"despair" among countries.

"What the world needs now is to work on a system of
global cooperation to meet the objectives that give a message of
hope to humanity, especially those who are currently suffering
the impacts of climate change," he said.

Todd Stern, the U.S. special climate envoy, said
Canada's decision should have little impact on negotiations on a
future pact that would include binding cuts on developed and
developing countries.

"I don't think it's going to have a big impact on the
shape of a new regime and the nature of the new negotiations,"
Stern told reporters on Tuesday.

Figueres said the Durban agreement to a second commitment
period of the Kyoto Protocol is essential "for the new push
towards a universal, legal climate agreement in the near
future".
(Reporting by Nina Chestney; Additional reporting by
Timothy Gardner and Valerie Volcovici in Washington ,
Editing by Alessandra Rizzo and Dale Hudson)

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