Russia stalls on Kyoto commitments
By Honor Mahony
Russia has caused consternation in the EU by stalling its decision about whether to sign the international treaty on climate change, the Kyoto Protocol.
"The Russian government is meticulously examining this question and is studying all of the difficult problems associated with it", said Russian President Vladimir Putin at the opening of an international conference in Moscow yesterday (29 September).
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"The decision will be taken at the end of this work and in conformity with Russia's national interests", he told the over one thousand gathered experts, according to news agency reports.
Moscow's signature is crucial for the Kyoto Protocol to come into effect. The international treaty, signed in 1997, needs countries responsible for at least 55% of greenhouse gas emissions to sign up.
Russia's signature would mean this threshold would be crossed.
European Commission spokesman Reijo Kempinnen said, "we still do hope that Russia will ratify the Kyoto protocol as soon as possible".
French President Jacques Chirac has also exerted pressure on Mr Putin to sign.
"[Ratification] would indicate Russia's determination to assume all the responsibilities of a great modern country for future generations", Mr Chirac said in a letter, according to reports on Yahoo.
"[Mr] Putin's words mean that at the moment Russia does not consent to the application of the treaty", said Corrado Clini, on behalf of Italy, the current holders of the EU presidency.
The Italian environment ministry's director general went on to say, according to Ansa, that this means the EU must "negotiate more dynamically".
The headline goal of the Protocol, to which the US is not a signatory, is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by eight percent below 1990 levels between 2008 and 2012.