Kyoto Protocol awaits Russian Duma's approval
the Kyoto Protocol on global warming is just a step away from becoming an international law. On September 30, 2004, a major hurdle was crossed when the Russian cabinet approved the treaty and sent it to the lower house of parliament, the Duma, for approval. The Duma would take up the resolution for debate in October 2004 and indications are that it would pass the treaty.
A fortnight ago, it seemed Russia's decision on the treaty would get further delayed. While deputy prime minister Alexander Zhukov sought more time to prepare an official report on the treaty that was to be submitted to Russian president Vladimir Putin in August 2004, the draft of this report was reported to be critical of the pact (see Down To Earth, 'Russia lingers', October 15, 2004). But soon after, on September 22, 2004, there were reports that Putin had asked some of his ministers to sign the ratification documents. After a little over a week, the cabinet approved the treaty.
It is not clear what caused this sudden turnaround. But the Interfax news agency said ministries linked to environmental management had been given three months to work out a series of practical measures arising from Russia's obligations. Putin had promised the eu in May 2004 that Russia would "accelerate progress" towards ratifying the treaty in return for enabling its entry into the World Trade Organization.
Prime minister Mikhail Fradkov said the treaty was approved at a regular meeting of the cabinet "after a heated discussion". He also felt the discussion in the Duma would not be smooth. Putin's economic adviser, Andrei Illarionov, one of the most vociferous critics of the treaty, termed the decision to ratify "an unwilling political decision". But the economy ministry, considered extremely influential, has extended full support to the treaty.
The Russian government will now have to ensure that the Duma approves the treaty, as Putin's reputation is at stake. Zhukov is reported to have recently said that the Duma would probably ratify the treaty by early October. Russia's ratification would make the treaty legally binding as it would help account for 55 per cent greenhouse gas emissions by all industrialised nations in 1990.
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