The Russian Cabinet endorsed the Kyoto Protocol last week, making international implementation of one of the most far-reaching and controversial environmental initiatives a near certainty.The decision puts an end to months of heated domestic debate over the international treaty that aims to curb climate change by limiting greenhouse gases. The European Union has been pushing Moscow to commit to the protocol.
The fate of the protocol has hinged on Russian approval. In the absence of support from Washington, Moscow’s ratification has been crucial, as countries producing a majority of the world’s greenhouse emissions must endorse the treaty before it can take effect. The EU has said it would reduce its emissions even without backing from Russia.
The Cabinet decision came after an discussions and passionate objections by the country’s fiercest Kyoto critic, presidential economic advisor Andrei Illarionov. Ratifying Kyoto will torpedo the economy, defeat Putin’s goal of doubling GDP by 2010 and cost the country $1 trillion in lost growth by 2012, Illarionov said.
Under Kyoto, Russia would have to stay below 1990 greenhouse gas emissions levels through 2012. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia produces about 30 percent less emissions than 14 years ago. Under the treaty Russia would be allowed to sell so-called emissions quotas to big polluters.
Bedritsky said that Russia can stay within its targets but should not sell extra quotas. Rather, he said, Russia could benefit in other ways. A treaty provision allows countries to make emissions-reducing investments abroad but count the reductions as their own. Kyoto supporters have said such investments would help modernise Russian industry.