Russia and Canada took the Earth Summit by surprise yesterday when they said they would ratify the Kyoto treaty to combat global warming. The announcements pave the way for the deal to take effect possibly before the end of the year.
The news came as a blow to President George Bush, who did not attend the summit and has set out to kill the treaty since coming to power last year. The United States succeeded at the summit in blocking targets for increasing renewable energy supplies.
Countries responsible for 55 per cent of the industrialised countries' emissions of carbon dioxide – the main cause of global warming – have to ratify the Kyoto Protocol for it to take effect. Ratific- ations by Russia and Canada will take the treaty well over the threshold, leaving America and Australia isolated in rejecting it.
John Prescott, the Deputy Prime Minister, and Margaret Beckett, the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, said they were thrilled. "We have been working very hard to persuade countries that this is the right thing to do," Mrs Beckett said.
Both countries had indicated they might not be able to ratify the treaty. To complete delegates' delight, the Chinese Premier, Zhu Rongji, announced that his country had already ratified the Protocol. China's participation was not needed to bring the treaty into force, but still gave it an immense boost because the country is one of the world's biggest sources of carbon dioxide.
Kate Hampton, of Friends of the Earth, said the news was totally unexpected. "This is wonderful. Russia and Canada have resisted intense US pressure. George Bush has been foiled again."
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