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Greenpeace is disappointed that Russia has not signed Kyoto agreement.



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AM

Tuesday, 30 September 2003

 

 

 

LINDA MOTTRAM:  Russia's President, Vladimir Putin, has disappointed those who had hoped that he'd use the opening of a climate change conference in Moscow to finally commit Russia to signing the Kyoto agreement on cutting greenhouse gas emissions, instead, he says that his government is still studying the proposal. And with his country potentially the richest energy exporter in the world and with big international energy investment at stake, Mr Putin has hinted that economic and political considerations, rather than environmental ones, will be the basis for Russia's decision.

 

Our Europe correspondent, Geoff Hutchison, reports.

 

GEOFF HUTCHISON: For the Kyoto protocol to come into effect it needs the countries responsible for at least 55 per cent of the world's carbon dioxide emissions to sign up. That aspiration received a huge setback in 2001 when the United States, the world's biggest polluter, declared it would never do so. Other industrial powers did commit to Kyoto but now Russia's agreement is crucial, and the 1,200 delegates who came to Moscow to discuss climate change were hoping for better than this from Vladimir Putin.

 

YLADIMIR PUTIN (translation): Russia is being called on to ratify the Kyoto protocol urgently. … The Russian government is looking at this subject carefully, studying the whole spectrum of problems connected with ratification. … The decision will be made only after these things have been studied.

 

GEOFF HUTCHISON: Stephen Guilbeault from Greenpeace says this was a missed opportunity to make history, and could derail the entire process.

 

STEPHEN GUILBEAULT: President Putin has had three years to study the ramification of Kyoto ratification, and Russia as a state, has had since 1997, to do that; really, I think it's stalling. In fact they would benefit from this. I mean, the agreement was specifically designed to ensure that Russia and other eastern European countries, like Ukraine, would benefit economically, financially, from the Kyoto protocol.

 

GEOFF HUTCHISON: And there's the puzzle—Russia has been granted less rigorous emission targets than other countries. It's been asked to keep them at 1990 levels, which won't be that hard, not because their factories today are spewing less pollutants into the air but because there are less factories, and that leaves Russia with spare pollution allowances they'll be able to sell on to other countries. So why not just say 'yes'?

 

Dr Jeremy Leggett of Oxford University's Environmental Change Institute.

 

JEREMY LEGGETT: As we know the White House has essentially an oil regime in power, and the OPEC governments were very opposed to Kyoto. Russia is a major oil and gas producer as well so President Putin will be torn between narrow, short-term national interests and the billions of dollars of investment that are going into Russia from American and European oil companies.

 

LINDA MOTTRAM: Dr Jeremy Leggett of Oxford University's Environmental Change Institute. That report from our correspondent, Geoff Hutchison.