Duma ratifies Kyoto protocol

A positive vote had been widely forecast after the Cabinet endorsed the treaty on 30 September. European governments and environmental groups, who have lobbied hard for Russia to ratify, hailed the move as a key victory in the global battle against climate change. Without Russia's support Kyoto would have been scrapped but Russia's ratification will make the treaty binding.

"We have opened the Russian champagne bottles," said European Environment Commissioner Margot Wallstrom. "It brings Russia a lot closer to Europe, I would say." The treaty must still be approved by the Federation Council and signed by President Vladimir Putin, although these steps are seen as formalities.

The Kyoto Protocol calls on industrialised countries to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases, thought to be the cause of global warming, to previously agreed target levels by 2012. Russia's target is equivalent to its 1990 emissions levels. Due to the collapse of Soviet-era heavy industry following the breakup of the Soviet Union, the country now produces about 30% less than that amount. The Kyoto Protocol was rammed through the Duma on Friday by United Russia, although deputies from the Liberal Democratic Party (LDPR), the Communist Party and Rodina lashed out against it. The motion passed with 334 votes for, 73 against and two abstentions.

The treaty "is not in the interests of the Russian Federation," said Pyotr Romanov, a Communist deputy. Limiting Russia's greenhouse gas emissions will limit economic growth and make meeting Putin's goal of doubling GDP within 10 years impossible, he said, according to Interfax. The same arguments were put forward by Putin's economic adviser, Andrei Illarionov, one of the main opponents of Kyoto.

Kyoto's supporters argue that the treaty will bring Russia economic rewards since it will allow Russia to sell any unused emission quotas to countries that do not meet their reduction targets. However, Alexei Ostrovsky,

Contact: Tatyana Suslova
European Space Agency

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