October 8, 2004
CAN RUSSIA'S 'GREENHOUSE DIPLOMACY' REVIVE KYOTO?
** Media praise Putin's
ratification of Kyoto as "laudable step" in averting global climate
** The U.S. absence from
climate pact makes Russia's participation "absolutely indispensable."
** Given Russia's WTO
ambitions, Putin is likely using Kyoto politically to win points with EU.
** Some expect more
"pressure" on U.S., now the "global warming odd man out."
A 'new impetus' for climate protection-- Kyoto supporters in Europe, Asia and the
Americas agreed that Russia's ratification of the Kyoto Protocol, in a
"coma since the U.S. refusal to sign it," is a "big step
forward" toward cutting global greenhouse gases. Many, especially in left-leaning media,
hailed the decision as "enormously welcome" and a "gratifyingly
sane and responsible step" in a world of "chaos." But they also stressed there is still
"much more to be done," including "much deeper cuts" for
any real chance of averting the "serious threats posed by climate
change." India's Business
Standard cautioned that given the evidence of "mounting damage"
from global warming, the issue cannot be pushed to the backburner...without
running grave risks." Kyoto
skeptics, such as New Zealand's National Business Review, preferred
Kyoto "be put out of its misery," and instead labeled poverty the
world's "largest polluter."
Without Russia, Kyoto would be 'a goner'-- With the U.S. as a "no-show," papers
judged Russia as the Kyoto "maker or breaker." With Russia's support, noted Spain's
independent El Mundo, Kyoto "stops being useless and turns into a
real legal framework." Capturing
the editorial consensus, a Brazilian daily stressed that Russia's "change
was crucial," since "the accord would not be effective" without
its participation. Further making the
point, Belgium's left-of-center Le Soir mused: "After the 'no' from
Washington, the 'da' from Moscow will probably save the Kyoto Protocol." Yet, leading Japanese and Canadian dailies
also worried that Russia's position may have put their countries "in a
bind." Despite advances in
technology it will "not be easy for Japan...to become even more energy
efficient," fretted Tokyo's Yomiuri; The Globe and Mail
admitted that Ottawa has "no realistic plan to meet the Kyoto
'Kremlin's motives are hardly cleaner than Moscow's air'-- Commentators were bemused by President
Putin's "sudden" conversion to a "Kyoto believer." He acted more out of "political
compulsion" to gain EU support for Russian membership in the WTO rather
than from "any real concern for the planet's health." Putin did not become a "green angel
overnight," Germany's Financial Times Deutschland asserted,
"he mainly wants to counter international outrage over his increasingly
undemocratic domestic course."
Although the decision was "clearly politically motivated,"
Russia's reformist Vremya Novostei defended the "greenhouse
diplomacy" since Moscow had to send "at least some positive signal to
the West," especially Europe, due to the "relentless criticism"
of Russia's internal policy. Moscow's
reformist Izvestia saw Kyoto as Russia's chance of "becoming a
full-fledged participant in international economic mechanisms."
Is U.S. 'under pressure'?--
Russia on board Kyoto, the U.S. has lost an "important ally in the
axis of Kyoto Protocol opponents."
Though some doubted whether the U.S. would be "impressed" by
Putin's move, others speculated that if Kyoto gains momentum, "pressure on
the U.S. will undoubtedly increase."
The liberal Toronto Star predicted concerns about economic
competitiveness "will drive the U.S. back to the Kyoto table." Brazil's center-right O Globo
concurred that the "adhesion that was missing to enforce the treaty...will
represent strong pressure on the U.S., which remains more isolated now
in...refusing to face...global warming."
Prepared by Media Reaction Branch (202)
EDITOR: Irene Marr
EDITOR'S NOTE: Media Reaction
reporting conveys the spectrum of foreign press sentiment. Posts select commentary to provide a
representative picture of local editorial opinion. Some commentary is taken directly from the
Internet. This report summarizes and
interprets foreign editorial opinion and does not necessarily reflect the views
of the U.S. Government. This analysis
was based on 29 reports from 15 countries October 1 - 7, 2004. Editorial excerpts are listed from the most
"Kyoto Deal Remarkable Achievement But Will Not Prevent Climate
The center-left Independent editorialized
(Internet version, 10/1): "The
Russian cabinet's decision to ratify the Kyoto protocol on climate change is
enormously welcome; a gratifyingly sane and responsible step in a world where
chaos has seemed to loom ever larger.
Once the treaty had been rejected by President Bush in 2001, Russia
became the state whose ratification was essential for it to come into force..... Yesterday's announcement means that vociferous
Russian opponents of the treaty, led by the Kremlin economic adviser, Andrei
Illarionov, have been outflanked.... For
all the delay in Russia's ratification, we have long taken Kyoto almost for
granted. We tend to forget just what a
remarkable achievement it was for more than 150 countries, with all their
divergent domestic interests and priorities, to...agree a treaty designed to
tackle what is increasingly recognized as an unprecedented threat to the
world. The collapse of Kyoto would have
severely damaged confidence in the ability of the international community to
find a multilateral response to climate change.... It would also have sent a very negative
signal to the developing countries...who are not yet officially part of the
effort to check global warming, but whose eventual cooperation is
essential.... And it points up the
position of the United States as the global-warming odd man out. What it does not do, though--it must be
admitted--is solve the problem. Even if
the terms of the treaty were fulfilled as originally envisaged, with full U.S.
participation, the resulting cuts in greenhouse gas emissions would be but a
tiny beginning.... It is to Tony Blair's
real credit that, so far alone of international leaders, he has recognized this
and stated several times that the world must begin thinking in terms of CO2
cuts of 60 per cent. So Kyoto is only
the beginning. But it is the beginning
we must have, and we should give it a 100 percent welcome."
"Moscow Is Welcome"
Right-of-center Le Figaro observed
(10/1): "We welcome the Moscow
government's decision...after a long hesitation...to ratify the 1997 Kyoto
Protocol on greenhouse gas emissions.
This is a decisive step...because, given America's rejection of the
protocol, Russia was needed to make up the minimum of 55 countries responsible
for 55 per cent of emissions to bring the agreement into effect. Since President Putin's United Russia party
holds the parliamentary majority...Russia's ratification can be regarded as
"Putin's Cultivation Of The Climate"
Center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich said
(10/1): "The Kremlin leader has now
used his omnipotence to improve the international climate following the dark
clouds of the past weeks. Putin obviously
realized that he has reached the stimulus threshold of the West and must stem
against his growing loss of reputation.
He asserted his views against the opposition from his political
supporters who considered the ambitious goals of his domestic industry to be in
jeopardy.... Without Russia, the
globally important climate protection agreement cannot enter into force. Putin used this outstanding lever to press a
high price from the West: support for
his efforts to become a member of the WTO....
There is no way back, and Putin will profit from this in several
ways: he will make money by trading
emission rights, the constraint to pursue a climate protection policy will lure
investors, and the West has again been appeased."
Carl Graf Hohenthal argued in right-of-center Die Welt of
Berlin (10/1): "The decision by the
Russian government...should give climate protection a new impetus. Pressure on countries such as the U.S. and
China...will increase. But it is too
early to speak of a 'historic step,' as the French environment minister did,
since the ratification of the Kyoto Protocol...must be accompanied by its
implementation. And not all nations will
be strict about it. A lot of time will
pass before the Protocol will have an effect, since China registers an annual
increase in emissions that even exceed the annual lowering provided by the
Kyoto Protocol.... It is certain that
emissions pollute the environment, are detrimental to one's health and help
wear out technical plants faster than usual.
That is why it is reasonable to do something for the protection of the
environment. And this is easier and more
efficient on the basis of an, admittedly, demanding contract that is difficult
to control than without a Climate Protocol."
Business-oriented Handelsblatt of Duesseldorf opined
(10/1): "Kremlin leader Putin has
put himself into a comfortable geopolitical situation: again and again he can play off Europe
against America, and Russia always wins.
This is also the game in the bartering about the Kyoto Protocol: first
cooperation with Washington to stonewall the Protocol, now cooperation with
Brussels--to rake in a prize afterwards, since Moscow still has great wishes
towards Europe like a transit agreement for the Baltic Sea enclave in
Kaliningrad. And it is also likely that
European criticism of Putin's increasingly authoritarian domestic policy will
now ebb. And Russia is not required to
pay its own prize. The country can
easily meet environment restrictions due to the collapse of its heavy industry
and can even rake in billions by trading emission rights. While Putin is now allying with the
Europeans, he can exert pressure on U.S. President Bush. Following Russia's move, the U.S. is isolated
in environment questions. But when it
comes to the next bone of contention, Putin will march with Bush again. This is the way the Kremlin's see-saw policy
works.... The western race for Russia
oil and gas makes the Kremlin strong.
That is why Putin will continue to play Brussels and Washington off
against each other in order to keep criticism of his policy small."
"Do Good And Make Money"
Business-oriented Financial Times Deutschland of Hamburg
judged (10/1): "Of course, Vladimir
Putin has not turned into a green angel overnight. He mainly wants to counter international
outrage over his increasingly undemocratic domestic course. But even if the Kremlin's motives are hardly
cleaner than Moscow's air, this move will result in a decisive step forward
toward a global environment policy....
With Putin's step, the U.S. has lost an important ally in the axis of
Kyoto Protocol opponents. It is
questionable whether the Americans will be impressed by it, but
environmentalists can console themselves and say that climate protection
without the U.S. is still better than no agreement at all."
ITALY: "Europe Has The
Sergio Romano commented in centrist, top-circulation Corriere
della Sera (10/1): "Russia's
approval (of the Kyoto Protocol) is the result of long negotiations carried out
by the European Commission. Russia wants
to join the WTO and the EU was certainly in a position to block it. That road has very likely been opened today. We still don't know the terms of the
negotiations. We don't know whether the
two sides have come to an agreement also regarding the cost of Russian gas, low
at home and four times as expensive on international markets. But we know that Putin considered good
relations with the EU much more important than any other domestic consideration
as far as Russia's future is concerned.
This is the most significant aspect of the agreement."
Vera Sitnina and Ivan Gordeyev wrote in reformist Vremya
Novostei (10/1): "Russia will
after all ratify the Kyoto Protocol that limits greenhouse emissions.... The cabinet of ministers approved the
protocol yesterday. Although the document has yet to be ratified by the
parliament, few doubt the outcome of the parliamentary vote. Especially since the decision to ratify the
protocol was taken at the highest level and is clearly politically
motivated.... In the current
circumstances Russia has to yield to pressure.
We have not yet joined the WTO.
To make things worse, the Kremlin's plan to strengthen the vertical
power structure provoked a very negative reaction in the West, and although our
diplomats, including the Foreign Minister, keep repeating that the reform is
Russia's internal business, Moscow must send at least some positive signal to
the West. Not so much to the West in
general (the U.S. has refused to sign the protocol) as to Europe. While the relations with Washington are based
on the joint fight against terror, the relations with the Europeans who are relentless
in their criticism of Moscow over its internal policy are living through bad
times. Finally, one cannot rule out a
situation (and it is discussed in the Russian government) that an attempt will
be made to eject Russia from the G-8. A
pretext for such a move exists: Russia
is not among the world's leading eight countries in terms of the size of its
economy whereas the other seven members of that elite club of nations also
happen to be the leading economic powers on the planet. In this context, the signing of the Kyoto
Protocol demonstrates that Russia is able to remain a loyal and civilized
political player in the international arena.
This is greenhouse diplomacy."
Sergei Leskov maintained in reformist Izvestia (10/1): "The fact of the matter is that the
Kyoto Protocol is the first and so far the only case when Russia is becoming a
full-fledged participant in international economic mechanisms. Nothing could be simpler--or more foolish--than
to stand aside."
Reformist Gazeta concluded (10/1): "Some kind of deal was struck with
Brussels.... By all appearances...the
government expects the EU...to respond by softening its position on transit in and
out of Russia's Kaliningrad enclave, and on the subject of ethnic (Russian)
minorities in the Baltic states.... We
do note the skepticism of President Putin's economics adviser Andrey
Illarionov.... He warned that Russia
will pay quite a tangible price for such a dubious benefit for the environment
and that the protocol will hinder the objective of doubling the country's GDP,
because the economy cannot develop without industrial growth, which is
impossible without increased emissions."
"Vladimir Putin's Strategic Stunt"
Benjamin Quenelle contended in left-of-center Le
Soir (10/1): "After the 'no'
from Washington, the 'da' from Moscow will probably save the Kyoto
Protocol. Russian President Vladimir
Putin can be proud of his diplomatic stunt.
He chose the right moment to announce his support for the Kyoto
Protocol. Putin, who was until yesterday criticized for his authoritarian
reforms, is suddenly saluted as a defender of the environment. He has given the bad role of the guy who
almost ruined Kyoto to his alleged friend George W. Bush. The latter finds himself isolated at a moment
when, because of the upcoming elections, he certainly did not need that. On the contrary, Vladimir Putin comes out of
the isolation where he had temporarily locked himself after he announced his
intention to reinforce his power. His
gesture in favor of Kyoto enables him--at least for the time being--to relegate
this criticism to a position of secondary importance and to gain several
friends in the EU, which is a strong defender of Kyoto and therefore now
"A Small Step"
Bart Beirlant asserted in Christian-Democrat De
Standaard (10/1): "If the Kyoto
protocol enters into force pressure on the U.S. will undoubtedly
increase.... Earlier, President Bush
turned his back to Kyoto because, in his view, it could damage America's
economic growth. He urges for voluntary
actions and technological innovations.
However, the U.S. population realizes that the warming of the earth is a
real problem that won't go away just like that.
Polluting enterprises and their shareholders begin to understand that
they may be brought to justice 20 or 30 years from now and that they will have
to pay damages--just like the tobacco industry today. Companies that use clean technology are
exerting pressure on Washington because they know that they can profit from the
climate treaty. In the meantime,
scientists are trying to make it clear that Kyoto is nothing more than a first
small step and that much more radical measures are needed to stop the warming or
The center-left Irish Times held
(10/1): "It has been touch-and-go
over the past few years whether the Russian Federation would ratify the Kyoto
Protocol...but it now seems certain that this will happen.... Given the power he exercises over that body,
the outcome may now be regarded as a fait accompli and, as soon as Russia's
instrument of ratification is received by the UN, the protocol...will finally
enter into force.... Russia's ratification
has been vital since President Bush pulled the U.S. out of Kyoto.... Since the U.S. accounts for more than a fifth
of global greenhouse gas emissions, this was a potentially fatal blow as the
protocol must be ratified not only by 55 industrialized countries, but these
countries must together account for more than 55 per cent of the total
emissions.... Sustained pressure on the
Kremlin by the EU and environmental groups appears to have paid off. This decision is partly a response to EU
support for Russian membership of the WTO.
It will also soften Russia's image among western liberals worried about
the recent centralization of power there.
And though they would acknowledge that Kyoto will result, at best, in
cutting overall emissions by less than two per cent on 1990 levels, it is at least
a step in the right direction on a long road that will require much deeper cuts
if there is to be any chance of averting the serious threats posed by climate
"Kyoto Is Alive"
Left-of-center El País wrote (10/2): "Kyoto is a timid attempt to fight
against the disastrous consequences of our insatiable appetite for fossil
fuels. The human being has become an
agent able to alter the complex processes determining climate. In this alarming context, it is not very
important whether the next ratification (of the agreement) by Moscow has more
to do with political reasons than with environmental.... Putin has understood that the ratification of
UN's agreement will improve (Russia's) very damaged image in Europe...and
increase the possibilities that the EU will support the entry of Moscow into
"Russia Gives Wings To The Kyoto Protocol"
Independent El Mundo opined (10/1): "With Russia's support, Kyoto stops
being useless and turns in a real legal framework. In this sense, the U.S. position becomes yet
more untenable, because it has chosen to become a 'loutish state' concerning
matters of climate change. Now opens a
dispute that will grow in the future, as it is unlikely that the EU and the rest
of the countries will be willing to take action in an effort that will let the
U.S. compete with an advantage. Kerry
has another matter to ask Bush in the electoral campaign."
"Russia, In The Kyoto Protocol"
Conservative La Razon commented (10/1): "One has to be realistic and know that all
countries won't carry out the Kyoto (Protocol), and thus their goods will be
cheaper than ours. The economic reasons
are influential, although on their own they do not cancel out the dangers that
justified the Kyoto agreement. The
solution may be in arbitrating, through the World Trade Organization, a system
of compensations where, if it doesn't reward environmental efforts, it will at
least prevent an untenable source of [economic] losses."
SWEDEN: "Now Also
Russia Is On The Train"
Foreign Editor Per Ahlin observed in
independent, liberal Stockholm-based Dagens Nyheter (10/1): "Russia’s approval of the Kyoto Protocol
means that it now can come into effect.
This is a feather in EU's cap and, not least, for former EU Commissioner
Margot Wallstrom, who has invested much to get Russia on the train. No one imagines that the environment will
improve overnight but most commentators regard this as a step in the right
direction.... (With regards to the
U.S.), the Kyoto Protocol has quite simply become a symbol of the foreign
policy that has been pursued during George W. Bush’s time in the White House; a
foreign policy where the U.S. reserves the right to only respect commitments
that further its own interests.... The
protocol may benefit those entering it, and now the U.S. is among those
"Increasingly Worsening Climate In Russia"
Conservative Stockholm-based Svenska Dagbladet
editorialized (10/1): "Is Russia
now regarding more positively the environmental and economic value of the Kyoto
Protocol? No, its aversion against it
remains. President Putin’s adviser
Andrej Illarionov has described the move as a political decision, not as one on
the climate issue. What it is all about
is the application of classic diversion tactics similar to the ones used when
the Soviet Union advocated nuclear-free zones at the same time that it
increased its own armaments. This is
merely a play to those who want to be deceived.
Its purpose is to draw away attention from the ominous political
developments in Russia.”
EAST ASIA AND PACIFIC
JAPAN: "Kyoto Pact
Leaves Japan With Long To-Do List"
Moderate leading Yomiuri stated
(10/1): "The Kyoto Protocol...is
likely to go into effect without the U.S. ratifying it. This is because the Cabinet of Russian
President Vladimir Putin, which has approved the treaty, will soon submit a
draft bill on its ratification....
Russia's move is indeed a big step forward after a series of twists and
turns.... Once the protocol takes
effect, Japan will be obliged to fulfill the promise it made to the world
community to cut its greenhouse gases.
The government must soon come up with ways to cut greenhouse gases and
set in process a motion to implement necessary domestic measures.... But it will not be easy for Japan, which
already has advanced energy-saving technologies, to become even more energy-efficient.... Measures that Japan could utilize include the
system under which CO2 emissions can be traded on the market. The EU is scheduled to launch the system in
January, while countries including Canada and Norway also plan to introduce
it.... The system is expected to prove
effective, eventually enabling emission credits to be traded among countries,
leading to the development of international cooperation to cut greenhouse gas
emissions.... Another task for the
government will be to study the possibility of introducing a tax designed to
combat global warming, which would be levied on fossil fuels and the revenues
used to explore ways to tackle the greenhouse effect."
"Kyoto Concerns Need New Solution"
The business-oriented National Business
Review declared (10/1): "The government's
angry denunciation of a new report on the costs to the economy of ratifying the
Kyoto Protocol on greenhouse gas emissions is a further sign it is pursuing an
ideological hare rather than governing in the country's best interests.... Global warming [is] a phenomenon that is
widely debated by scientists and policymakers.
While a majority may now say it is largely caused by industrial and
transport activity, there is no consensus.
Opposition from skeptical scientists and governments such as those of
the U.S. and Australia is just as adamant that it is not the case.... Many of these fears are just that--overstated
claims with little basis in science.
Major weather events, such as the spate of hurricanes in Florida and the
Caribbean, are also used by global warming advocates to push climate change
agendas. Politics, not science, is
usually the winner in these cases....
The basic compliance issues about the protocol indicate its future must
be in doubt.... It requires, during its
first stage from 2008-12, to bring current emission levels below where they
were in 1990--a move that means a substantial contraction in economic activity,
notably transport and electricity generation, and a fall in living
standards. This is unrealistic on any
analysis and the measures it requires cannot be implemented without a huge
self-inflicted cost that few nations will accept.... The future of the protocol will be put to the
test at a conference to be held in Buenos Aires later this year. At such talkfests, given their highly
political nature, it is unlikely the protocol will be put out of its misery--by
far the best solution.... The largest
polluter and despoiler of the environment is poverty, not the prosperous
nations of the West. As people's living
standards rise, so does their ability to have more choices on wise and
efficient ways to use energy. Therein
lies the solution to Kyoto concerns."
INDIA: "Protocol Matters"
An editorial in the pro-economic-reforms Financial
Express stated (10/7): "It
appears that Russia may - after years of a let's-see stance - be close to
signing the Kyoto Protocol to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.
This would enable the treaty, which obliges signatories to establish national
programs for reducing Greenhouse Gas (GHGs) emissions, to finally take
effect.... The big omission is, of course, the U.S., whose influence on world
growth is unmatched by anyone else. It withdrew from the Protocol in 2001.
President George Bush has said that the treaty, besides being too one-sided
(only developed countries are obliged to bind themselves to reducing their
emissions), would hamper the growth of American industry. As the U.S. alone contributes 35% of GHGs, a
global treaty to limit GHGs requires Washington to come on board. The point that it is unfair to require
developing and developed countries alike to tackle the problem is an old and
accepted one. For starters, it is the latter who've contributed so much to the
problem. Besides, both differ in their
financial and institutional capacity. Even so, if the premise of Kyoto is the
need to have GHG emitters moving without more delay in the same direction,
simply demanding that the US change its mind may not be enough. As changes over
the past year in U.S. opinion and policy on Iraq has shown, international
pressure does work on a superpower and that could continue to be made on Kyoto.
And if the U.S. can be brought on board, negotiating the next round of emission
cuts becomes far more feasible. It is significant that British PM Tony Blair,
the next chairman of the G-8 countries and a firm proponent of early action on
Kyoto, went public last month with a proposal to first secure a global
agreement on the science of climate change and its threat. As well as how to
meet it and engage China and India on how they could met their energy needs
more sustainably. There may thus be a need to reopen some aspects of Kyoto to
make it succeed."
Pro-economic-reforms Business Standard editorialized
(10/7): "The Kyoto protocol on climate change, in coma since the U.S.
refusal to sign it in 2001, has been restored to life by the Russian cabinet's
decision to ratify the multilateral pact....
The Kremlin's nod for the treaty was quite hard to come by, because
environment protection is no longer just an ecological issue. It has strong
economic implications, requiring (to cite one instance) investment in cleaner
technologies that can push up costs and impact international competitiveness.
The strong anti-Kyoto lobby in Russia, as elsewhere, has been putting this
forward as the chief argument for opposing what is in the treaty.... In the
end, it was the European Union which brought around Moscow by making the Kyoto
ratification a pre-condition for supporting Russia's entry into the World Trade
Organization (WTO). Significantly, the
timing of the Kremlin's decision on Kyoto is appropriate. Both the U.S. and
Australia face elections and the opposition in both countries is favorably inclined
towards joining others in protecting the global environment and adopting more
environment-friendly conferences...recent evidence shows mounting damage being
done by global warming, and the issue cannot be pushed to the backburner any
longer, without running grave risks."
"Russia Reports Fair Weather"
The nationalist Hindustan Times remarked
(10/4): "Moscow's approval of the
Kyoto Protocol is a major step in bringing the treaty into effect.... Political compulsions (such as the EU's
support for Russia's bid to join the WTO), rather than any real concern for the
planet's health, seem to have now prompted Putin to give the green light to
Kyoto. As for the criticism by some
economists who warn of an impending economic crisis if Russia cuts GHG levels
in line with Kyoto, they miss an important technical point.... The Soviet Union's collapse in 1990 killed
state-subsidized industry and, as a result, there are now fewer GHG-spewing
factories in Russia. Moreover, Russia
will now have 'spare' pollution allowances it can sell to countries struggling to
meet their target cuts, attracting foreign investment as the international
demand for Russia's allowances grows. So
what's good for Russia is also good for the world."
CANADA: "Why Putin Is Backing Kyoto
Canadian journalist based in London, Gwynne Dyer
wrote in the liberal Toronto Star (10/5): "The treaty that the Bush
administration thought it had killed is alive again. Why? The Kyoto Protocol
had to be ratified by countries that together accounted for 55 per cent of the
industrialized world's output of carbon dioxide in 1990. So with the United
States and its Australian sidekick opposed - the U.S. alone accounts for 25 per
cent of the industrialized world's emissions- the assent of Russia (17 per
cent) was absolutely indispensable. Once Russia does ratify, however, the Kyoto
rules will be up and running in 90 days. The Bush administration was deceiving
itself if it thought that Russia was really opposed to Kyoto.... Traders on the
new London carbon exchange, where the price of carbon dioxide jumped 20 per
cent to more than $11 per tonne on the news of Moscow's forthcoming
ratification, estimate that Russia will be able to earn around $10 billion a
year by selling the unused part of its carbon quota to countries that cannot
meet their own quotas. The only real reason that Moscow delayed ratification
was that the Bush administration had given Russia what amounted to a veto on
the treaty, which it then used to extort major concessions from the European
Union. That game is over, so what happens now? The United States will not
rejoin Kyoto in the near future. But in the long run, the treaty imposes a
discipline on energy use on America's industrial rivals that will make them
more efficient and push them into new technologies. Concerns about economic
competitiveness may drive the United States back to the Kyoto table even before
the tangible evidence of climate change convinces American public opinion of
the need to return. And what of the charge that the cuts in emissions demanded
by Kyoto don't even begin to solve the problem? This accusation is usually made
by people who don't actually want limits on carbon emissions at all, and is
based on the (deliberately misleading) assumption that the current Kyoto quotas
are the final ones. They are not, of course..... Ultimately, scientists
estimate that cuts of around 60 per cent are needed globally to avoid runaway
climate change, mass extinctions, and catastrophic sea-level rise. But at least
the principle that every country has a responsibility for the global climate
has been accepted, and stabilization of industrial country emissions, apart
from the U.S. and Australia, is on the way."
"Russia Puts Canada In The Kyoto Bind"
Columnist Eric Reguly commented in the leading Globe and Mail
(10/5): "Canada allegedly is a fan of the Kyoto Protocol, but you've got
to wonder whether Ottawa's Kyoto wonks secretly dreaded Russia's endorsement of
the climate change treaty. Without Russia, Kyoto was a goner; Canada could
blame someone else for its failure. With Russia on board, Canada is in the
uncomfortable position of having to find a credible way to pay for Kyoto. The
bill will be enormous. With the United States a no-show, Russia was the Kyoto
maker or breaker. The protocol could not become legally binding by 2008 unless
it was approved by enough countries to account for 55 per cent of the
industrialized world's greenhouse gas emissions.... Why Mr. Putin became a
Kyoto believer is hard to say, although don't think for a second he's suddenly
worried the planet is turning into a barbecue. Kyoto is becoming a game of
economic and political horse trading. The countries that want it most, or
resist it least, are the countries that can either profit from it or have found
a way to meet it with minimal cost. With Russia, it's probably the former....
Kyoto is a noble effort. The planet is getting warmer. The weight of scientific
evidence says man-made carbon dioxide emissions are at least partly to blame,
perhaps largely to blame. Canada should remain committed to Kyoto, but it
should also come clean on the fact it has no realistic plan to meet the Kyoto
timetable. It's not too late to negotiate a grace period of a few years. It's
already too late to say Canada's Kyoto commitment, as it stands, won't result
in a rough ride for the economy."
BRAZIL: "Russia’s Approval Of Kyoto
Protocol...Strong Pressure On U.S."
Center-right O Globo remarked (10/1): "The approval of the Kyoto Protocol by
the Russian government depends now on the parliament, where the Kremlin has a
comfortable majority. That was the
adhesion that was missing to enforce the treaty and it will represent strong
pressure on the U.S., which remains more isolated now in its attitude of
refusing to face the global warming issue.
That is reason for modest optimism in an sector where, so far, for many
reasons, pessimism has prevailed.”
An editorial in liberal Folha de S. Paulo read (10/1): "President Vladimir Putin's decision to
adhere to the Kyoto Protocol is an important attitude since without the Russian
participation the accord would not be effective.... Russia's change of position is therefore
crucial. It is true that the political
reasons behind the Russian intention maybe do not take environmental concerns
into consideration. Even so Putin's
decision is laudable. It is now up to
the international community, mainly the EU and the UN, to pressure the U.S. to
adhere to the protocol. Under the Bush
administration, however, this is unlikely.
Anyhow, the effectiveness of the Kyoto Protocol is vital to maintain
certain life quality on Earth on the long run.... An at least habitable planet is the gift we
have to leave to our grandchildren and their kids."
"'Reconciliation' With The West Moves Putin"
Marcio Senne de Moraes commented in liberal Folha de S. Paulo
(10/1): "President Vladimir Putin's
laudable decision to announce Russia's intention to ratify the Kyoto Protocol
is political and is a small victory of the moderate wing of his administration
that wants a rapprochement with the international community, especially
Europe. By supporting the protocol, the
Kremlin will permit its effectiveness.
Above all, Putin has shown to his European colleagues that Russia
intends to fulfill its international commitments, thereby deserving the EU's
support to its claim to become a WTO member."
CHILE: "The Fight
Against Global Warming"
Leading-circulation, independent daily La Tercera commented
(10/4): “Last Thursday Russia ratified
the Kyoto protocol.... Russia's
ratification is of particular importance because to take effect, the protocol
required the approval of countries responsible for the emission of 55% of those
gases that produce the greenhouse effect....
There is no doubt that Russia’s approval of the protocol is a great step
forward, but there is still much to be done.
The current commitment of nations will only decrease the emission of
greenhouse gases by 5%, and the European Union has established that these gases
need to be reduced by 60% in order to avert the negative effects of global