Putin Ratifies Kyoto Protocol on Emissions

By STEVEN LEE MYERS

New York Times

November 6, 2004

MOSCOW, Nov. 5 - President Vladimir V. Putin signed Russia's ratification of the Kyoto Protocol on global warming, the Kremlin announced on Friday, clearing the way for the international treaty aimed at reducing emissions of heat-trapping gases to take effect early next year.

With Mr. Putin's signature, Russia became the 126th country to ratify the treaty, but one of the most important ones after the United States, Australia and others rejected it.

The treaty could take effect only if supported by enough nations to represent at least 55 percent of industrialized countries' emissions of six gases in 1990, and Russia was the only country left that produced enough to clear the threshold.

Mr. Putin's government decided to ratify the treaty in late September after a prolonged and, for the Kremlin, unusually public debate.

Some officials argued that the treaty would do grave economic harm to Russia, limiting industrial growth and undercutting Mr. Putin's often-stated goal of doubling the country's gross domestic product. Others argued that Russia, whose emissions are now well below its 1990 levels, could benefit by selling emission credits to countries that exceed their limits, especially in Europe.

Once the Kremlin settled its internal debate, the necessary legislative approvals proceeded swiftly. The lower house of the Russian Parliament voted overwhelmingly to ratify the protocol on Oct. 22, followed five days later by the upper house. The last step before it takes effect is technical: Russia must submit its ratification documents to the United Nations; 90 days after that, the treaty's provisions become binding.

The Kremlin announced that Mr. Putin had signed by issuing a brief statement early Friday morning with no fanfare.

The statement echoed the main arguments against the treaty, saying it would have "serious consequences" for Russia's "social and economic development." But it also noted the country's decisive position in determining the fate of the treaty.

"The decision on ratification was passed taking into account the significance of the protocol for the development of international cooperation and, likewise, taking into account the protocol will take effect only under the condition of the Russian Federation's participation in it," the statement read.