Russia ratifies Kyoto Protocol

Russia’s Upper House of Parliament on Wednesday ratified the Kyoto Protocol and sent it to President Vladimir Putin for the final stamp of approval that will bring the global climate pact into force early next year.

The Federation Council voted 139-1, with one abstention, to endorse the protocol, which aims to stem global warming by reducing greenhouse-gas emissions. The quick vote came four days after the Lower House ratified the treaty.

Without Russia’s support, the pact—which has been rejected by the United States and Australia—cannot come into effect. It needs ratification by 55 industrialised nations accounting for at least 55% of global greenhouse-gas emissions in 1990.

“Without Russia’s participation, the world community’s efforts for many years to establish a global mechanism for solving environmental problems would be doomed to failure,” Mikhail Margelov, the Kremlin-connected chief of the council’s foreign affairs committee, told lawmakers before the vote.

Putin pledged in May to speed up ratification in return for the European Union’s support of Russia’s bid to join the World Trade Organisation, and he is expected to sign it quickly.
The 1997 pact will take effect 90 days after Russia notifies the United Nations of its ratification.

Margelov told the chamber that ratification will give Russia leverage in its sometimes-prickly relations with the EU.

“Ratifying the Kyoto Protocol, we get a very strong position in our negotiations with the EU on Kaliningrad transit, on the situation with Russian-speaking minorities in the Baltics, on all the economic issues which we still discuss with the EU,” he said.

The approval by both houses of the Kremlin-controlled Parliament followed years of hesitation and fierce debates among Russian officials. Russian foes of Kyoto warned that the pact would stymie the nation’s economic growth, but its supporters dismissed the claim, saying that even after a five-year recovery, the post-Soviet industrial meltdown has left emissions about 30% below the baseline.

The US alone accounted for 36% of carbon dioxide emissions in 1990, while Russia accounted for 17%.

The Russian Cabinet has voiced hope that the treaty, which allows countries to trade greenhouse-gas emission allowances, will enable Russia to attract foreign investment to improve the energy efficiency and competitiveness of its crumbling industries.

Under the treaty, Russia can also sell unused emission credits to countries that have exceeded their limits.

Once the deal takes effect, industrialised countries will have until 2012 to cut their collective emissions of six key greenhouse gases to 5,2% below the 1990 level. The next round of international climate talks is scheduled for December in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and negotiations on greenhouse-gas emissions after 2012 are due to start next year.

The Federation Council said in a statement on Wednesday that Russia will make a decision on its participation in post-2012 emission cuts proceeding from the outcome of the December talks.—Sapa-AP

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