Russia is planning to ratify the Kyoto treaty on global warming soon, Prime
Minister Mikhail Kasyanov has confirmed at the World Summit.
Russia's backing would mean that enough big producers of greenhouse gases have
signed up to bring the treaty into effect.
We consider that ratification will take place in the very
The treaty received a massive blow when the United States - the world's biggest
polluter - pulled out under the presidency of George W Bush. The ratification
promise by Russia - the third biggest polluter - gives the ailing treaty the kiss
The Russian announcement is one of several key initiatives to emerge from
the summit, where delegates are nearing agreement on a final declaration.
Latest developments have included:
- A deal aimed at halving the number of people in Africa without water and
sanitation by 2015
- Agreement that countries should "substantially increase" renewable energy
- although without target percentages or dates
- Continued disagreement on health services, where the US and others oppose
wording which could boost abortion in developing countries.
Russia's confirmation that it was pressing ahead with Kyoto came in Prime Minister
Kasyanov's address to delegates.
"Russia has signed the Kyoto Protocol and we are
now preparing its ratification. We consider that ratification will take place
in the very nearest future," he told them, to warm applause.
The treaty needs a majority of greenhouse gas producers - responsible for 55% of 1990 worldwide carbon emissions - to sign up before it can be implemented.
Russia's involvement would take it past that level, even without the US.
The 1990 figures showed the US producing 36% of carbon emissions, and Russia 17%.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said in April that his country would ratify Kyoto.
However, a final review of costs and benefits was taking place over the summer, with opponents claiming the treaty might hinder Russia's economic development.
But the benefits could be enormous.
Russia expects its carbon emissions to be down by 20% from 1990 levels when Kyoto comes into force in 2008 - meaning it would then be able to sell carbon pollution "credits", bringing a potential windfall of tens of billions of dollars.
Confirmation by Russia is good news for the climate and brings us that bit closer to ratification of the Kyoto protocol this year
Russia would be able to use this money to modernize its energy-intensive industries.
However, Russia would have first to prove that its emissions levels for 1990
were accurate. If it cannot do this, experts say, the bonanza will not materialize.
Russia's announcement was welcomed by environmental campaigners.
"Confirmation by Russia is good news for the climate and brings us that bit closer to ratification of the Kyoto protocol this year," Gordon Shepherd of WWF International told BBC News Online.
"Only Russia and Canada are needed to enable the protocol to enter into force."
On Monday, Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien told the summit his country's parliament would vote on ratification before the end of the year.
The US has been unmoved by the welter of criticism it has received since pulling out. President Bush claims US business interests would be harmed by the treaty.
China has also proclaimed its support for the protocol, with Prime Minister Zhu Rongji telling delegates at the World Summit that the government had completed the domestic phase of its path to adopting the treaty.
"I would like to announce hereby that the Chinese government
has ratified the Kyoto protocol," Mr Zhu was quoted by Reuters news agency as saying.
China, as a developing nation is not bound by the goals for restraining carbon
dioxide emissions laid out in the Kyoto agreement, but Chinese support is crucial
for its survival.
It is the world's second-largest producer of carbon dioxide emissions - and the US has long cited China as one reason why it will not ratify the deal.
"China hopes that other developed countries will ratify or approve the protocol as
soon as possible so as to enable it to enter into force within this
year," Mr Zhu added.
Copyright 2002 BBC