International Information Programs
Office of Research Issue Focus Foreign Media Reaction

October 8, 2004

October 8, 2004



**  Media praise Putin's ratification of Kyoto as "laudable step" in averting global climate threat.

**  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 become even more energy efficient," fretted Tokyo's Yomiuri; The Globe and Mail admitted that Ottawa has "no realistic plan to meet the Kyoto timetable."


'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'?--  With 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 warming." 


Prepared by Media Reaction Branch (202) 203-7888,


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 recent date.




BRITAIN:  "Kyoto Deal Remarkable Achievement But Will Not Prevent Climate Change"


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."


FRANCE:   "Moscow Is Welcome"


Right-of-center Le Figaro observed (10/1):  "We welcome the Moscow government's decision...after a long 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 certain."


GERMANY:  "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."


"Climate Protection"


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."


"Putin's Game"


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 Winning Card"


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."


RUSSIA:  "Greenhouse Diplomacy" 


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."


"Political Ecology" 


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."


"A Deal?"


Reformist Gazeta concluded (10/1):  "Some kind of deal was struck with Brussels....  By all appearances...the government expects the 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."


BELGIUM:  "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 grateful."


"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 planet."


IRELAND:  "Kyoto Protocol"


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 change."


SPAIN:  "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 the WTO."


"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 isolated.”


"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.”




JAPAN:  "Kyoto Pact Leaves Japan With Long To-Do List"


Moderate leading Yomiuri stated (10/1):  "The Kyoto 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."


NEW ZEALAND:  "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."


"Kyoto Revived"


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 Again"


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.”


"Russian Ratification"


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 warming.” 




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