Vladimir Putin signs Kyoto Protocol bill

Moscow, Russia, Nov. 5 (UPI) -- Russia's president has signed the Kyoto Protocol ensuring the global climate pact will take effect, Novosti reported Friday.

Putin had delayed signing the treaty until he gained European promises to support his bid for Russia's membership in the World Trade Organization.

The completion of Russia's ratification process, which began last month when Moscow's legislature passed an enabling bill, brings the protocol into effect more than seven years after the pact was adopted in December 1997 at a U.N. climate change conference in Kyoto, Japan.

The ratification by Russia, which accounted for 17.4 percent of Earth's carbon dioxide emissions in base year 1990, is essential for the protocol to enter into force.

The pact requires ratifications by 55 nations including industrialized countries accounting for at least 55 percent of emissions in 1990.

Japan and 124 other signatories to the protocol have ratified the pact.


BARCELONA, Spain (Reuters) - Russia is likely to ratify the Kyoto protocol this year, salvaging the stalled U.N. pact aimed at curbing global warming, the head of the U.N. Environment Program said on Friday.

Kyoto's fate hinges on Russia after a U.S. pullout in 2001. President Vladimir Putin said last month that Moscow would move to ratify the 1997 deal after an agreement with the European Union on entry to the World Trade Organization.

Putin set no deadlines but UNEP head Klaus Toepfer told Reuters he expected Russia would ratify by the next meeting of Kyoto signatories, scheduled for December in Buenos Aires.

"I hope they will do it before the next conference of the parties, and I believe that there is quite good information backing this," he said on the eve of World Environment day.

"There are clear signals...coming from Moscow that they now take it very seriously and they will do it."

Kyoto cannot come into force unless it is ratified by countries responsible for 55 percent of rich nations' "greenhouse gas" emissions. It has reached 44 percent and Russia's 17 percent will tip the balance.

Carbon dioxide produced by burning fossil fuels in cars and factories is the main greenhouse gas. Scientists say these gases are blanketing the planet and nudging up temperatures, bringing more floods, tornadoes and raising world sea levels.

A UNEP source said Toepfer had never been so optimistic about getting Russia on board.


The future of the protocol was cast in serious doubt after President Bush pulled out, saying it was too expensive and unfairly excluded poor nations.

Many environmentalists had feared that Russia, which has been convulsed by months of debate on Kyoto, might refuse to sign up despite support from more than 120 other nations.

Kyoto's entry into force will trigger a flow of aid to help the developing world tackle its emissions problems, U.N. officials say.

And the example of legal obligations on richer countries could also make it easier to bring big developing-world polluters India and China into the fold, Toepfer said.

"As long as there is not a chance to prove...that developed countries are committed to implement what they are asked to do in Kyoto, it will be very difficult to convince anybody else to have in mind any commitment for a secondary phase," he said.

Governments needed to recognize, however, that it was too late to simply try to stop global warming and instead needed to help people adapt to the impact of a changing climate on their lives.



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