Russia Rules Out Accepting Kyoto Protocol
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Russia Rules Out Accepting Kyoto Protocol
Posted: Tuesday, Dec 02, 2003 - 03:01:16 pm PST
By STEVE GUTTERMAN
MOSCOW - In what would be a mortal blow to the accord aimed at halting global
warming, a top Kremlin official said Tuesday that Russia won't ratify the
Kyoto Protocol limiting greenhouse gas emissions because it will hurt the
The United States rejected the accord for the same reason. Without Moscow,
the protocol cannot come into effect even if approved by every other nation
because only Russia's industrial emissions are large enough to tip the balance.
The pollution cuts required by the treaty would slow the economic growth that
President Vladimir Putin has made a major priority, said top adviser Andrei
"In its current form, the Kyoto Protocol places significant limitations on
the economic growth of Russia," Illarionov told reporters in the Kremlin on the
sidelines of Putin's meeting with European business leaders. "Of course, in
its current form this protocol can't be ratified."
Earlier this fall, Putin cast deep doubts on Moscow's willingness to ratify
the protocol, but he had not ruled it out entirely.
A Russian Economics Ministry spokesman, Konstantin Bogdanov, told Dow Jones
News Wires on Tuesday he was unaware of any change in Russia's official
position, which has been that it is still considering the protocol.
However, Illarionov said it would be unfair for Russia to curb emissions and
stymie its own growth while the United States and other nations, which account
for the bulk of global emissions, refuse to join the pact.
Putin laid out Russia's objections in what Illarionov called a "very
energetic" discussion with the European industrial leaders.
The Kyoto Protocol, signed by many of the world's nations at a conference in
Japan in 1997, sets targets for countries to reduce emissions of carbon
dioxide and other greenhouse gases, which are seen as a key factor behind global
To take effect, the pact requires ratification by a minimum of 55 countries,
which must include the industrialized nations that accounted for at least 55
percent of that group's carbon dioxide emissions in 1990.
So far, industrialized nations that have signed on account for 44.2 percent
of the 1990 emissions. Russia accounts for 17.4 percent, so its ratification
would push the group over the top.
Attention focused on Russia after the Bush administration announced it would
not ratify what it called a flawed pact that would unfairly harm the U.S.
economy. The United States is responsible for one-fourth of the world's man-made
carbon dioxide emissions, and its March 2001 decision angered environmentalists.
Russian officials initially suggested Russia would ratify it, but remarks by
Putin and Illarionov at a climate-change conference in Moscow two months ago
indicated the opposite.
Putin has called for the doubling of Russia's gross domestic product by 2010
_ a goal officials fear might conflict with the Kyoto Protocol, which would
require the Kremlin to overhaul Russian industries to cut emissions.
Russia's emissions have fallen by 32 percent since 1990 amid the post-Soviet
industrial meltdown, but they have slowly started to rise with the economic
revival of the past five years.
Putin puzzled his audience at the Moscow conference this fall by remarking
that Russians "could spend less on warm coats" if the country warmed up by a few
degrees, while Illarionov questioned the pact's feasibility and scientific
At a climate change conference that began Monday in Milan, Italy, the news
from Russia left participants pondering strategies in the absence of a global
Steven Guilbeault of Greenpeace said Illarionov's remarks appeared to be "a
political comment" ahead of Sunday's elections for the State Duma, Russia's
lower house of parliament.
Philip Clapp, president of the National Environmental Trust, an advocacy
group based in Washington, also mentioned the elections and pointed out that
Illarionov has been one of Russia's strongest critics of the protocol.
Clapp speculated that Moscow might be jockeying for more favorable terms when
rules are worked out for a mechanism under which countries that are under
emissions target levels can sell credits to nations that still need to reduce.
Putin and other officials often make fiery comments meant largely to show
Russians that the Kremlin is standing firm against foreign pressure, but the
Kyoto Protocol is not seen as a key issue for Russian voters.
The European Union, which has led the fight to save the pact after Washington
pulled out, said in a progress report it was getting further from meeting its
own targets for greenhouse gas emission reductions under the pact.
The European Environment Agency said its latest figures were "much more
pessimistic" than last year's mainly because Germany drastically scaled back its
forecast for reductions.
"At the moment things are moving away from Kyoto rather than toward it," said
spokesman Tony Carritt.
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