MoscowRefuses to Ratify Treaty on Climate Change 

TheGuardian, 5 December 2003

By NickPaton Walsh

Afterdays of conflicting statements from ministers, Russia made clear yesterday thatit was not prepared to ratify the Kyoto protocol in its present form.

Apresidential spokesman told the Guardian that Moscow could not sign the 1997international protocol to combat global warming “in its current statebecause it prescribes limitations for Russia that will create the most seriousobstacles for economic growth and contradict its national interests”.

Thespokesman added that Moscow did not reject the treaty – which needs Russianconsent to come into force worldwide – but wanted continued dialogue, and”expects that some of the demands made on Russia would be changed”.

He setno concrete date for the negotiations to end.

Theclarification comes after three days of mixed messages from Kremlin officials.

OnTuesday, President Vladimir Putin’s top adviser on the topic, Andrei Illarionov,said Russia would not sign because the treaty placed “significantlimitations on the economic growth of Russia”.

The nextday, Mukhamed Tsikanov, the deputy economic development and trade minister, saidRussia was “moving towards its ratification”, a comment widely takenas a contradiction of Mr Illarionov.

Yesterday,Mr Illarionov insisted he was repeating Mr Putin’s opinion.

Themixed messages were taken by many to signal either a split between Mr Illarionovand the economic development and trade ministry, or a complex negotiatingstrategy.

MrIllarionov has said that under the current terms, Russia would not make moneyfrom selling its credits to produce greenhouse gases to countries which havereached their limits under the treaty.

* Twoleading US government climate experts say there is no doubt global warming isreal and that the “composition of the atmosphere is changing because ofhuman activities, and today greenhouse gases are the largest human influence onglobal climate”.

ThomasKarl, director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s nationalclimatic data centre, and Kevin Trenberth, head of the climate analysis sectionat the National Centre for Atmospheric Research, write in today’s issue of thejournal Science: “The likely result is more frequent heatwaves, droughts,extreme precipitation events, and related impacts, eg wildfires, heat stress,vegetation changes, and sea level rise.”

The UShas balked at signing international treaties to reduce climate-changingemissions, but the two experts say global cooperation is vital. 




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