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French Environment Minister Nelly Olin is disappointed that the Harper government is abandoning emission-cutting targets under the Kyoto protocol. ((CBC))

Environment Minister Rona Ambrose spent another day on the defensive at the UN Climate Conference as her French counterpart slammed Canada for abandoning emissions-cutting targets under the Kyoto protocol.

"I am very disappointed at Canada's retreat. I hope it is temporary," French Environment Minister Nelly Olin said Thursday.

"It's a shock for us, a shock for all who support Kyoto. And above all, it's a shock, I think, for the Canadians who I think are generally supportive of Kyoto."

Olin cited the many years she worked with Ambrose's predecessor and current Liberal leadership candidateStéphane Dion to develop a coherent climate plan for Canada.

First public criticism of Canada

It was the first public rebuke at the conference of Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his Conservative government'sposition on Kyoto, although there have beenprivate grumblings by other participants.

Under Kyoto, which was signed by a previous Liberal government and came into effect in February 2005, Canada committed to cutting its greenhouse gas emissions six per cent from 1990 levels by 2012.

But the Conservatives backed away from Kyoto after winning power in January, saying the commitmentscouldn't be achieved and pointing out that Canada'semissions have actually risen some 35 per cent since 1990.

They insteadproposeda clean air actin October thataims to cut the emissions by between 45 and 65 per cent from 2003 levels by 2050.

Ambrose accuses Olin of meddling

On Thursday, Ambrose accused Olin of meddling in Canada's domestic politics and reiterated her position that the Conservatives were left with an impossible challenge on the climate change problem because of the previous Liberal government's failure to take action.

"I won't get involved in French domestic politics:it's not my way to get involved as she did in ours," said Ambrose.

Canada is the only country that has backpedaled on its targets under the climate treaty. However, the world's biggest producer of greenhouse gas emissions, the United States, never signedthe international treaty.

French President Jacques Chirac has made scathing comments about countries that forgo their commitments.

Ambrose said the Liberals failed to put in place an adequate framework for cutting emissions, and repeated the Conservative position that Canada's targets are unachievable.

With files from the Canadian Press