Tuesday, December 02, 2003

Russia Kills the Kyoto Treaty

Why am I not surprised by this development? I can't say that I'm displeased either, as the Kyoto Protocol struck me as providing only marginal benefits at tremendous cost in foregone economic growth.

MOSCOW (AP) -- A senior adviser to President Vladimir Putin said Tuesday that Russia cannot ratify the Kyoto Protocol limiting greenhouse gas emissions, dealing a mortal blow to the pact that required Russia's ratification to take effect.

``In its current form, the Kyoto Protocol places significant limitations on the economic growth of Russia,'' Putin's economic adviser, Andrei Illarionov, told reporters in the Kremlin. ``Of course, in this current form this protocol can't be ratified.''

Putin had previously cast doubts on Moscow's willingness to ratify the protocol, but hadn't ruled out ratification completely.

The 1997 Kyoto Protocol calls for countries to reduce their level of greenhouse-gas emissions, which are seen as a key factor behind global warming.

To come into force, the pact must be ratified by no fewer than 55 countries, accounting for at least 55 percent of global emissions in 1990. Under the treaty's complex rules, the minimum can now only be reached only with Russia's ratification because the United States and several other nations have rejected the treaty.

Leaving aside the fact that the chances of America signing on to the Kyoto Protocol were infinitesimal long before Bush came into power - the Senate having rejected the treaty by a stunning 95-0 vote - it seems the Bush administration has no monopoly on "selfish unilateralism" after all. Will all the usual suspects come out to decry Putin's torpedoing of this poorly thought out agreement, as they surely would have if it were their bete noire who had done it?