Putin promises to 'speed up' Kyoto ratification

Click to follow
The Independent Online

President Vladimir Putin saved the Kyoto climate change pact from extinction yesterday and stunned environmentalists by saying Russia would ratify it.

President Vladimir Putin saved the Kyoto climate change pact from extinction yesterday and stunned environmentalists by saying Russia would ratify it.

His announcement will allow the United Nations treaty to become legally binding and leaves America looking isolated on the world stage as an environmental sinner. Ending months of speculation, Mr Putin said Moscow would lend the pact its support despite advice from his own chief economic adviser to give it a wide berth.

The breakthrough came at an EU-Russia summit in Moscow during which Mr Putin won Brussels' endorsement for his country to join the World Trade Organisation (WTO). Mr Putin said this had paved the way for his country to return the favour and ratify Kyoto.

He said: "We support the Kyoto process. The fact that the EU has met us halfway in negotiations on the WTO could not but have helped Moscow's positive attitude to the question of ratifying the Kyoto protocol. We will speed up Russia's movement towards its ratification." But Mr Putin did not give a precise date for ratification, saying Russia still had some problems with its fine detail.

But the thrust of his comments was overwhelmingly positive. Analysts had long thought that Russia's reluctance to sign up to the pact was due to the Kremlin's desire to use it as a bargaining chip in other negotiations, a theory borne out by Mr Putin's statement yesterday.

Environmentalists had become concerned, however, by a series of negative statements about the pact emanating from some of Mr Putin's closest advisers. Two reports - one prepared by the country's academy of sciences and another by a senior policy adviser - recommended Mr Putin to reject it on the grounds that it would cause irreparable damage to Russia's booming economy.

Caught on the back foot yesterday, environmentalists rushed to welcome Mr Putin's announcement. Klaus Toepfer, head of the UN Environment Programme, said: "This is a very welcome and positive signal. It is vital that the Kyoto protocol enters into force as a first step towards stabilising the global climate. Ratification by Russia is the last crucial step."

Comments