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The Daily Yomiuri (Japan)
July 15, 2003
Russian ratification of Kyoto Protocol likely next year
By Tadayoshi Sakaguchi, Yomiuri Shimbun Staff Writer

Taking Russia's political situation into consideration, Moscow may not ratify the Kyoto Protocol on climate change until next year, Raul Estrada, Argentine special representative for international environmental issues, said recently in an interview with The Yomiuri Shimbun.

Estrada visited Tokyo earlier this month to participate in an informal meeting titled "Further Actions Against Climate Change," organized by the Foreign Ministry. In the meeting, about 30 senior officials and researchers from European Union countries and 16 other nations exchanged their views of steps being taken to combat the serious problem.

To put the Kyoto pact into effect, it must be ratified by more than 55 signatory countries. The pact requires that the amount of carbon dioxide emissions produced by ratifying industrialized countries should be 55 percent of that produced by all industrialized nations in 1990. Russia's ratification is therefore considered indispensable for enacting the protocol, given that the United States has pulled out of the protocol.

Estrada, who is often described as "The Father of Kyoto Protocol" since he served as the chairman of the conference in 1997 when the protocol was adopted, said in the interview: "Russia's ratification will be good for the whole world because the resulting implementation of the Kyoto pact will mitigate climate change.

"This will also be good for the nation as it can utilize emissions trading. At the same time, that will allow Russia to acquire useful technologies to reduce carbon dioxide emission from Japan and West European countries."

However, the timing of the ratification will likely be carried over into next year, he said.

According to Estrada, the protocol must be sent to the Russian parliament before the government can make a decision. The parliament will reconvene in September after summer recess. In December, however, Russia will hold parliamental elections.

"Because of the political schedule, it doesn't seem like the best time for the government to be making any political decisions," he said.

But he also discussed the possibility that Russian President Vladimir Putin might announce the ratification in September at a world conference on climate change to be held in Moscow in September.

The United States is still reluctant to join the pact, but Estrada says some promising developments are under way. He pointed out that U.S. states and cities are taking measures to lessen climatic changes, and many major companies have independently begun trying to lower their emission rates.

He said the general situation worldwide is showing signs of improving. "Thanks to international efforts in the 1990s to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, we are in a better position now than we were in that period."

According to a recent U.N. report, developed countries saw their total level of carbon dioxide emissions in 2000 fall 3 percent below the level in 1990. The decrease presumably resulted from a request by the Convention on Climate Change in the early '90s.

"In 1995, it seemed our aim was not going to be fulfilled," Estrada said, referring to discussions of the protocol at that year's conference in Berlin. "But we are on our way--perhaps not as fast as some people would prefer, but things are moving," Estrada said.

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