Putin moves Russia towards ratifying the Kyoto Protocol

Posted: 24 May 2004

President Vladimir Putin has announced that Russia will move towards ratification of the Kyoto climate protocol, a step that could rescue the international agreement on limits to greenhouse gas emissions. Since the United States rejected the global warming treaty, Russia's backing has been essential to bring it into force.

In a press conference Friday, Putin said, "We will speed up Russia's movement toward the Kyoto Protocol's ratification."

WTO membership

Putin made the announcement after the European Union supported Russia's bid to join the World Trade Organization. The EU, which has already ratified the Kyoto Protocol, had made its support dependent on Russia ratifying the treaty.

Russian President Vladimir Putin. Photo: Russian Federation
Russian President Vladimir Putin. Photo: Russian Federation
Russian President Vladimir Putin© Russian Federation
Putin said, "The EU has met us halfway in talks over the WTO and that cannot but affect positively our position on the Kyoto Protocol."

The aggreement between Russia and the European Union on entry into the WTO was reached between European Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy and Russian Trade Minister German Gref in Moscow, after nearly 10 years of talks.

Commissioner Lamy said in Moscow Friday (May 21) that the conclusion of the EU-Russia bilateral deal is the first major step towards Russia's WTO membership, since the EU is by far Russia's largest trading partner, representing over 50 percent of Russia external trade. Russia is the EU's fifth largest trading partner. "For us," Lamy said, "WTO membership means a Russian market which is more open, predictable, transparent and efficient."

The Kyoto Protocol part of the deal was dependent on Russia, an energy producer, giving the EU a favorable price on energy.

Pascal Lamy of France is European Commissioner for External Trade. Photo: Office of the Commissioner
Pascal Lamy of France is European Commissioner for External Trade. Photo: Office of the Commissioner
Pascal Lamy of France is European Commissioner for External Trade© Office of the Commissioner
Lamy said this was "an essential element" for the EU in part because "it will encourage a more efficient use of energy resources in this country, which fits with the EU line to see Russia ratify the Kyoto Protocol. Hence, the results of our bilateral WTO deal on energy are mutually supportive of the Kyoto goals."

Putin praised

Putin's Kyoto Protocol announcement was met with applause from environmental groups in the United States. The World Wildlife Fund welcomed Putin's first clear statement in support of Russian ratification of the protocol.

"Ratification of the Kyoto Protocol is in the interest of the Russian state - its people, its economy, its environment," said Alexey Kokorin of WWF's Climate Change Program in Russia. "We urge President Putin to deliver on his promise and advise the lower house of the Russian parliament to begin ratification procedures immediately."

"President Putin's announcement regarding the Protocol irreversibly changes the agenda," said Jonathan Lash, president of the World Resources Institute (WRI).

"WRI applauds the leaders of the European Union for stepping forward and breaking the logjam with respect to Russian ratification. The developed world has begun to come to terms with the inevitability of carbon reductions and is committed to responding accordingly," Lash said. "The Protocol's entry into force provides a framework for addressing the issue of global warming."

Kyoto rules

The rules for entry into force of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol require 55 Parties to the United Nations Framework Climate Change Convention to ratify the agreement, including industrialized countries accounting for 55 per cent of that group's 1990 carbon dioxide emissions.

To date, industrialized countries accounting for only 44.2 per cent of their 1990 baseline carbon dioxide emissions have ratified the protocol, so Russia's 17 per cent is needed to meet the threshold figure.

The United States pulled out its 36 per cent in 2001.

Now, to win WTO membership Russia must conclude bilateral arrangements with other WTO partners such as the United States, China and Japan. Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2004. All Rights Reserved.

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