The State Duma, Russia’s lower house of parliament, is preparing to vote on ratifying the Kyoto Protocol on climate change. Russia’s approval is the last hurdle before the 1997 treaty comes into force worldwide. If passed, the bill has to go through the upper house and be signed into law by President Vladimir Putin. In May he agreed to fast-track Kyoto’s ratification, in exchange for the EU’s support of Russia’s bid to join the World Trade Organization.
But Putin’s economic adviser Andrei Illarionov fiercely opposes the move. He and other critics say new emission limits could constrain Russia’s economic growth, undermining Putin’s plan to double gross domestic product in 10 years. To be effective, the treaty must be ratified by nations accounting for at least 55% of greenhouse gas emissions. It has depended on the backing of Russia, responsible for 17% cent of world emissions, since the US pulled out of the agreement in 2001. Analysts say that regardless of who wins the US presidential election, Washington will not approve the treaty as it stands.