From: VLADIMIR ISACHENKOV, Associated Press Writer
Published September 30, 2004 12:00 AM

Russian Cabinet Approves Kyoto Protocol, Will Send it to Parliament for Ratification

Russia's Cabinet approved the Kyoto Protocol on global warming Thursday, clearing the way for parliamentary ratificaion of the document, the Interfax news agency reported.

Russia's suppport of the protocol means it would be put into effect worldwide. It must be ratified by no fewer than 55 countries that accounted for at least 55 percent of global emissions in 1990, and Russia's participation would tip the scale.

The United States, China and some other big industrial nations have rejected the treaty. It seeks to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, which are widely seen as a key factor behind global warming.

A government official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the ratification bill would be submitted soon to the lower house of parliament, or State Duma, so it can be ratified before the year's end.

The Duma is dominated by the Kremlin-directed United Russia party and approval is almost certain.

In May, President Vladimir Putin pledged to speed up approval in return for European Union support of Russia's bid to join the World Trade Organization. Many of his advisers have opposed, arguing that joining would stymie Russia's economic growth and make Putin's goal of doubling gross domestic product in a decade out of reach.

"It's a political decision, it's a forced decision," Putin economic adviser Andrei Illarionov said at the Cabinet session, according to Interfax. "It's not the decision we are making with pleasure."

Some observers have speculated that Russia is jockeying for more favorable terms when rules are worked out for a mechanism under which countries that come in with emissions levels below the targets can sell pollution credits.

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