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Archive for Saturday, October 23, 2004

Kyoto treaty another step closer to ratification

October 23, 2004

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— Russia's lower house of parliament approved the Kyoto Protocol on Friday, virtually guaranteeing that the treaty to fight global warming will take effect early next year.

Ratification still requires approval by the Federation Council, or upper house of parliament, and the signature of President Vladimir V. Putin, but those steps are widely expected. Russian approval would give the treaty enough worldwide support to take force 90 days after Russia's ratification documents are delivered to the United Nations in New York.

Because the Bush administration pulled out of the agreement in 2001, the pact's requirements to reduce so-called "greenhouse gas" emissions would not apply to the United States. But the business units of U.S. corporations operating in countries that have approved the treaty would be affected.

The vote Friday was 334 in favor, with 73 against and two abstentions.

"Now the issue is resolved," said Grigory Pasko, editor-in-chief of Ecology and Law, a Russian magazine. "The approval of the Federation Council is just a technicality ... In the end, despite the views of his own advisers, Putin chose in favor of ratifying, and in our country, whatever Putin decides immediately becomes a legal reality."

Some of Putin's top economic advisers opposed the treaty out of fear that it will hamper the future growth of Russian industry, but the Russian Foreign Ministry has favored ratification.

Putin's decision to endorse the pact has been seen widely as tied to agreements reached with the European Union on thorny trade issues. But Mikhail Delyagin, chairman of the Institute of Globalization Problems, a Moscow think tank, said he believed the decision to back the treaty also reflected a desire to defuse Western criticism on human rights issues.

"We surrendered all positions because we decided to use Kyoto Protocol ratification as the bone we threw to the European dog to stop its barking about the violations of human rights in Russia," Delyagin said.

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