Russian upper house ratifies Kyoto pact

Members of Russia's upper house of parliament vote to endorse the Kyoto protocol, in Moscow, on Wednesday.
Members of Russia's upper house of parliament vote to endorse the Kyoto protocol, in Moscow, on Wednesday. Misha Japaridze / AP
/ Source: The Associated Press

Russia’s upper house of parliament on Wednesday ratified the Kyoto Protocol and sent it to President Vladimir Putin for the final stamp of approval that would bring the global climate pact into force early next year.

The Federation Council voted 139-1 with one abstention to endorse the protocol, which aims to stem global warming by reducing greenhouse-gas emissions. The quick vote came four days after the lower house ratified the treaty.

Without Russia’s support, the pact — which has been rejected by the United States and Australia — cannot come into effect. It needs ratification by 55 industrialized nations accounting for at least 55 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions in 1990.

Putin pledged in May to speed up ratification in return for the European Union’s support of Russia’s bid to join the World Trade Organization, and he’s expected to sign it quickly. The 1997 pact would take effect 90 days after Russia notifies the United Nations of its ratification.

The approval by both houses of the Kremlin-controlled parliament followed years of hesitation and fierce debates among Russian officials. Russian foes of Kyoto warned that the pact would stymie the nation’s economic growth, but its supporters dismissed the claim, saying that even after a five-year recovery, the post-Soviet industrial meltdown has left emissions some 30 percent below the baseline.

The United States alone accounted for 36 percent of carbon dioxide emissions in 1990, while Russia accounted for 17 percent.

The Russian Cabinet has voiced hope that the treaty, which allows countries to trade greenhouse gas emission allowances, would enable Russia to attract foreign investment to improve the energy-efficiency and competitiveness of its crumbling industries.

Under the treaty, Russia can also sell unused emissions credits to countries that have exceeded their limits.

Once the deal takes effect, industrialized countries will have until 2012 to cut their collective emissions of six key greenhouse gases to 5.2 percent below the 1990 level. The next round of international climate talks is scheduled for December in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and negotiations on greenhouse-gas emissions after 2012 are due to start next year.

The Federation Council said in a statement Wednesday that Russia would make a decision on its participation in post-2012 emission cuts proceeding from the outcome of the December talks.