Returning to Moscow from a summit with President George W. Bush at Camp David, Russian President Putin opened the World Climate Change Conference in Moscow today. Putin's appearance heightened expectations that he would make an announcement about Russia's ratification of the Kyoto Protocol.
He disappointed the conferees and failed to resolve the uncertainty concerning the fate of the Kyoto Protocol, the international agreement to control greenhouse gases previously repudiated by the Bush Administration. "Of course other opportunities will be coming," stated Environmental Defense's global and regional air program manager, Joe Goffman. "The Russian Presidential elections are just around the corner. Managing greenhouse gas emissions means controlling other dangerous pollutants, and that means Russian lives will be saved."
President Putin said that the Russian government is conducting a comprehensive analysis of Kyoto ratification. In addition, Putin stated that due to the economic crisis in Russia, Russian greenhouse gas emissions are substantially below their 1990 levels. These reductions are so significant that Russia has compensated for 40% of the world's growth in these emissions since that time.
"Presently, there is no known negative consequence to Russia from ratification. In fact, the benefits to Russian business and people will be discussed in detail at the Social Forum of the World Climate Change Conference," said Dr. Alexander Golub, a Russian climate specialist with Environmental Defense. "The Kyoto Protocol contains innovative market-based mechanisms that allow Russia to be financially compensated for their reductions, more clear evidence that Russia would substantially benefit from the Protocol's ratification."
"The world is waiting for Russia to act. Without Russian action, greenhouse gas pollution will certainly continue to grow and the threats to the planet that President Putin catalogued today will increase," said Goffman.