Summit in Johannesburg. Crumbs for the poor - 4 September, 2002

The World Summit on Sustainable Development is finishing its work in Johannesburg today. Media outlets lost their interest in the summit two days after it began. Ecologists claimed that the summit was like the celebration of selfishness and greediness.  As it was expected, the large summit did not solve any of the world problems. The heads of almost 100 countries of the world failed to come to consent on how to relieve the world of hunger, poverty, illnesses and the total pollution of the environment. The Russian leadership managed to concoct, how to save the world ecology and earn money for the budget of the country.

A lot of public organizations (Greenpeace, Oxfam, WWF and others) have already announced that  the summit in Johannesburg failed. Oxfam released a statement in which  the organization said that  the results of the forum were simply “crumbs for the poor.” The organization called the summit "a triumph for greed and self-interest, a tragedy for poor people and the environment." However, Russian leaders Vladimir Putin and Premier Mikhail Kasyanov managed to revive the dull atmosphere of the  forum.  They promised that the deputies of the Russian State Duma would ratify the so-called Kyoto protocol.

Vladimir Putin unexpectedly said in his conversation with German President Johannes Rau that there were a lot of woods in Russia. Putin added that those woods were showing the sanitary influence on the ecology of the planet. Then Putin stated that Russia was about to sign the Kyoto protocol. Mikhail Kasyanov confirmed this news in Johannesburg today. The Russian prime minister declared that Russia had decreased the emission of industrial gases in the atmosphere. However, Kasyanov did not mention that the world ecology experienced such a fact only due to a very strong economic recession in the country. Furthermore, Kasyanov invited everyone present to continue the discussion of ecological issues in Moscow.

Vladimir Putin initiated the World conference that would be devoted to the issues of climate changes. The participants of the summit were really happy about Russia's position on the matter. They were applauding to Kasyanov really long.

Experts believe that the Russian delegation can save the Kyoto protocol to a certain extent. The Kyoto protocol became a useless piece of paper after the USA refused to ratify this document  in the spring of last year.  The share of American gas emission in the atmosphere makes up 36%. If Russia ratifies the document, then the members of the agreement will be able to overcome the limit of 55% of those, who signed it. If it happens, the protocol becomes  valid.

They say that the ratification of the protocol will lead to considerable financial profit for Russia.  Pursuant to the terms of the Kyoto protocol, the industrially developed countries are supposed to reduce the emission of industrial gases by five percent during the period from 2008 to 2012 vs. 1990.  In 1990 Russia was emitting 17.4% of the world’s entire volume of carbon dioxide.  The share of the European Union was 24.2%, Japan’s – 8.5%, and about ten percent was the share of other countries.

However, according to the special annex to the Kyoto protocol, Russia is categorized as a country with transition economy. The countries with transition economy are not supposed to exceed the level of emission of 1990. The Russian Ministry for Economic Development came to conclusion that the level of Russia’s emission  would be on the level of 80% in comparison with 1990.  This level will be preserved for quite a time,  if the dynamics of the Russian economy remains as it is now. Therefore, Russia may not spend a lot of money on expensive environmental programs.

In addition to that, the annex allows a country, which ratified the protocol, to sell its unused quotas on harmful discharge to other countries. Several countries of the European Union have already evinced great interest in Russian quotas on the environmental pollution. Quotas can also be saved and carried over to the future. If quotas are not sold, then they can be moved to those years, when industrial progress might happen in Russia (according to economic forecasts).

Scientists calculated that up to 98% of all industrial discharge in Russia is formed as a result of coal, gas and petroleum burning. This means that if  Russia improves its energy-saving indexes, then the country will be able to decrease the volume of its gas emission. After that it will be possible for Russia to sell more of its unused quotas.

Akhtyam Akhtyrov

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Author`s name Olga Savka