Russian government gives green light to Kyoto Protocol

Oct 06, 2004 02:00 AM

The Russian government gave its approval for a ratification package for the Kyoto Protocol, clearing the way for the treaty -- the world's only international agreement to reduce emissions of CO2, the main greenhouse gas responsible for climate change and global warming -- to become international law.
"This is a decision for which the world has been waiting for two-and-a-half years," said Jennifer Morgan, Director of WWF's Climate Change Programme. "Once the Russian Duma endorses ratification, the UN will finally have a binding multilateral agreement to combat climate change -- a significant step towards protecting the millions of species and people at risk from climate change impacts."

"This decision is also further indication that the Bush administration is isolated in its approach to CO2 emissions and climate change," she added. "Russia is the latest of 126 countries to support the idea that human activity is responsible for global warming, and that international action needs to be taken to curb this." However, WWF warns that ratification of the Kyoto Protocol is only a first step towards combating climate change.
"While we are very happy that the Kyoto Protocol looks set to become international law, the industrialized countries that are party to the protocol now need to start implementing it," said Jennifer Morgan.

WWF also warns that it is premature to celebrate Russian ratification of the protocol just yet.
"Even if the ratification procedure moves as quickly as possible, the very earliest we will see the process complete would be November this year," said Alexey Kokorin from WWF-Russia.
The ratification documents must be sent to Russian President Putin, who will forward them to the Russian Parliament's lower house, the Duma. The Duma must then select Parliamentary Committees to discuss the ratification, and then vote for ratification in the plenary. After the upper house has also ratified, President Putin must sign the documents and then send them to the United Nations. Ninety days later the Kyoto Protocol will come into force.

A first step to combat global warming, the Kyoto Protocol commits 38 industrialised countries to cut their emissions of greenhouse gases by 2012 to levels that are about 5 % below 1990 levels. The protocol can only enter into force once 55 countries have ratified, including enough industrialized countries to account for at least 55 % of total CO2 emissions from industrialized countries in 1990.
One hundred and twenty-five countries have so far ratified the Kyoto Protocol, far more than the 55 countries needed. However, these countries do not yet represent 55 % of industrialized-country CO2 emissions. The US -- the world's largest emitter of CO2 -- declared it will not seek ratification in 2001, making Russia the pivotal country whose ratification makes the Kyoto Protocol become international law.

Source: WWF
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