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Kent satisfied with green summit outcome

Jessica Murphy, Parliamentary Bureau
Environment Minister Peter Kent. (DAVID BLOOM/QMI Agency)

Environment Minister Peter Kent. (DAVID BLOOM/QMI Agency)

OTTAWA -- A UN environment summit widely panned as a failed gabfest was given a thumbs-up Friday by Environment Minister Peter Kent.

At the wrap of the three-day sustainable-development summit in Rio de Janeiro, Kent told Canadian media on a conference call that Canada is happy with the final agreement and said the meeting was a "springboard conference" to future global green achievements.

"Essentially what this document does is revitalize our commitment to international engagement right across the spectrum of sustainable-development issues," he said.

Canada was singled out for special criticism by environmentalists attending the summit, dubbed Rio+20, who accused the Ottawa delegation of joining with a handful of other countries in watering down key proposals, especially with regard to ocean protections.

"Canada has been widely recognized as being the most obstructionist and pro-corporate of any government at this Earth Summit," the Council of Canadians chided in a statement.

But Kent bit back at critics, saying some countries were trying to "make policy on the fly" that would have "caused complications not just for Canada but many countries around the world."

"Canada's satisfaction with this document is as much with what is not in it as what is included in terms of positive direction forward," Kent said.

He also targeted environmental activists for failing to read the bad economic winds blowing through Europe, which raised the stakes on policy decisions.

"The economic realities of the world today compel us to be sure we don't go off on tangents," he said. "Snap decisions on sweeping, binding international policy are simply not the way to go."

The massive Rio conference was held two decades after the 1992 Earth Summit in Brazil, which is credited with putting climate change and sustainable development on the international agenda.

--with files from Reuters