Warm Welcome: Russia Ratifies Kyoto

Article excerpt

After refusing to endorse the treaty less than a year previous, Russian President Vladimir Putin ratified the Kyoto Protocol in late October 2004. This landmark gesture of progress in the battle against global pollution came two weeks after the Russian Parliament ratified it.

The global community was taken aback by the November 2004 authorization of the treaty, which both the United States and Russia had vocally criticized following US President George W. Bush's rejection of the Protocol in 2001. The Kremlin had feared that the treaty would be an impediment to its goal of doubling gross domestic product within the next decade. However, after Presidential advisor Andrei Illarionov announced the impossibility of attaining that goal in early November, Putin made his aggressive foreign and environmental policy friendlier towards the Kyoto Protocol. Russia is now freer to abide by the treaty's regulations as it is no longer tied down by fears that doing so will hinder its former economic goals. Despite predictions that the treaty will cap economic growth in Russia at five percent per year, signing the Protocol may give the once-stagnant economy an opportunity to refine its energy use and also show Russian participation in the global community.

The treaty's signatory nations must have produced a total of at least 55 percent of the world's carbon dioxide emissions in 1990 for the pact to take effect. Russia's addition to the list of 125 other industrialized nations participating in the Kyoto Protocol--including all 25 members of the European Union--provided the support necessary for the treaty to take effect in mid-February of 2005, when the 90-day waiting period for confirmation by the United Nations was over.

"The decision on ratification was passed taking into account the significance of the protocol for the development of international cooperation and, likewise, taking into account the protocol will take effect only under the condition of the Russian Federation's participation in it," Putin said in a brief statement after the announcement of the signing of the bill. Skeptics question Putin's motives, claiming he only signed the treaty as part of a larger plan to expand Russia's political influence. Only days after the signing, the European Union announced terms for a possible compromise on Russia's entrance into its growing trade organization. …