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Last Updated: Thursday, 4 December, 2003, 11:21 GMT
Russia's climate tussle spins on
By Alex Kirby
BBC News Online environment correspondent

Factory, AP
Scientists say the climate is warming
A senior adviser to President Putin insists that Russia is not planning to ratify the global climate treaty, the Kyoto Protocol, in its present form.

The adviser, Andrei Illarionov, said he had been repeating Mr Putin's own words in a statement he made last Tuesday.

He said: "The statement was made physically by me, but the words I was using were those of the president."

Mr Illarionov said the deputy economy minister's statement on Wednesday in support of the treaty was "mistaken".

Mr Illarionov, President Putin's chief adviser on economic issues, said in his original statement two days ago: "Of course, in its present form, this protocol cannot be ratified. It is impossible to undertake responsibilities that place serious limits on the country's growth."

But the deputy economy minister, Mukhamed Tsikhanov, said yesterday the country was moving towards the treaty.

He said: "There are no decisions about ratification apart from the fact that we are moving towards ratification.

"I cannot comment on Illarionov, but we do not have any information in the government about the fact that a decision has been made."

Now Mr Illarionov says: "The statement I made repeated word for word what the president said at his meeting with EU representatives.

"There are no disagreements between the Kremlin and the government. Quite simply, the minister who spoke about this yesterday was wrong. What he said was the position of the Russian Federation in August."

US reluctance

The countries which have signed the United Nations Climate Change Convention, are meeting in the Italian city of Milan this week and next.

The protocol, negotiated to implement the convention, requires industrialised countries to cut their emissions of six gases which scientists believe are exacerbating natural climate change.

Milan meeting, AFP
Signatories to Kyoto are currently meeting in Milan
Signatories will by some time between 2008 and 2012 have to cut emissions to 5.2% below their 1990 levels.

But many scientists say cuts of around 60-70% will be needed by mid-century to avoid runaway climate change.

The protocol will enter into force when 55 signatories have ratified it, including industrialised countries responsible for 55% of the developed world's carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in 1990.

Some critics say President Bush's decision that the US, which emits more greenhouse gases than any other country, would not ratify the protocol has already condemned it to irrelevance.

But enough other signatories have done so for it to enter into force if Russia, another big polluter responsible for 17% of global emissions, does decide to ratify.

It seems unlikely there will be any clear signal of Russia's intentions for some time yet, leaving the protocol effectively becalmed with nobody knowing how seriously to take it.




SEE ALSO:
Russia pulls away from Kyoto
02 Dec 03  |  Science/Nature
Cars risk Europe's climate cuts
02 Dec 03  |  Science/Nature
US hails own climate policies
01 Dec 03  |  Science/Nature
Climate talks end without result
03 Oct 03  |  Science/Nature
Climate change: The big emitters
29 Sep 03  |  Science/Nature


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