U.S. Left Behind by Russia: Russian Decision Today Will Put Global Climate Treaty Into Force Without U.S. Participation

30 Sept. 2004 | EnvironmentalDefense.org

NY – Environmental Defense president Fred Krupp praised the Russian Government’s decision today to submit the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change to the Russian Duma for ratification. “It’s the first clear sign since May that Russia is committed to taking the steps to usher in the age of carbon limits and climate stabilization. Sadly this leaves the U.S. isolated in its refusal to join the international effort to reduce greenhouse gas pollution,” said Krupp.

“Russian ratification will bring into force a landmark international treaty under which for the first time nations will work together to safeguard Earth’s climate. If the Duma approves, the Kyoto Protocol will be activated, creating the world’s first global platform for addressing the dangers of global warming,” Krupp said. The Protocol has been ratified by over 100 nations, and is expected to take effect about 90 days after Russian ratification. The Bush administration withdrew from the treaty in 2001.

“It’s not over until the fat lady sings, but it certainly seems she is clearing her throat in anticipation. If Russia does ratify it will be the opening bell for a new and fateful set of negotiations, with Russia and Europe facing China and the U.S. in a critical dialogue over how to cut greenhouse gas pollution but still allow the increases in energy generation needed for economic growth. This dialogue will involve all the large economies of the world and President Putin has now assured himself a key seat at that table,” said Peter C. Goldmark, Jr., director of Environmental Defense’s Climate and Air Program.

“Russia is expected to ratify the measure. There is wide understanding in Russia that the Kyoto Protocol will benefit the economy, while improving public health and saving lives,” said Alexander Golub, senior economist at Environmental Defense.

Russian ratification will launch the Kyoto Protocol’s global market for trading reductions in emissions of the greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change. In that market, those who come up with better, cheaper, faster ways to reduce greenhouse gas pollution will be able to sell pollution reductions to others who find it more costly to make reductions. Experience with other pollutants indicates that this market-based approach can help nations and businesses meet greenhouse gas reduction targets in an extremely cost-efficient manner. “Russian policy-makers understand that participating in Kyoto’s emissions trading market can help attract new investment to make Russia’s energy infrastructure more efficient and less polluting,” said Dan Dudek, Environmental Defense chief economist.

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