From: Oliver Bullough
Published September 24, 2004 12:00 AM

Russian Ministries Start Agreeing to Kyoto Approval

MOSCOW — At least one Russian ministry has signed letters agreeing to Moscow's approval of the Kyoto Protocol, a spokesman said, in what could be a final step in the lengthy tussle to bring the global pact into force.

The Natural Resources Ministry has already signed all documents necessary to send the pact to parliament for ratification and other ministries whose signature is required were working on it, ministry spokesman Rinat Gizatulin said.

"The request to us was sent by (Foreign Minister) Sergei Lavrov. Our position is that ratification of the Kyoto Protocol does not have negative consequences for Russia. We have signed the documents," he said.

"There were two sets of documents, one lot was signed on Friday and one lot today."

The comments appeared to confirm reports by environmental groups Wednesday that President Vladimir Putin, whose position on Kyoto has fluctuated since coming to power four years ago, had ordered key ministries to sign the pact.


The treaty, which aims to stabilize emissions of the gases which cause global warming, has depended on Russia since Washington pulled out in 2001. Countries responsible for 55 percent of emissions must ratify before it comes into force.

Russian approval was long expected until Putin distanced himself from the pact a year ago.

Although he warmed to it in May, government documents obtained by Reuters last month showed several key ministers doubted its scientific basis and said it would bring few benefits to Russia.

The final decision on ratification officially rests with the State Duma, the lower house of parliament, but the chamber is packed with Kremlin loyalists and likely to follow Putin's lead.

A source in Russia's top weather monitoring organization, Rosgidromet, said director Alexander Bedritsky, one of the most experienced meteorologists in the country, had also signed the letter to the ministers.

"The letter was signed by Bedritsky and Lavrov, and sent out at Putin's request. It included draft materials necessary for the ratification of the protocol," the source said.

"This is the first step on the road to ratification. It is the start of a long and difficult process, and it is not clear when it will finish."

A spokeswoman for the Economy Ministry said it had received a large package of documents from the Foreign Ministry but Economy Minister German Gref had yet to sign it.

"We are currently considering it, but our position is unchanged and we still think Russia should move toward ratification," she said.

Other key ministries seen as likely to have to sign the letter, including the Energy and Industry Ministry that has previously opposed it, declined to comment on their position.


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