Russia May Ratify Kyoto Treaty This Year

Russia may ratify the Kyoto Treaty as early as this year, according to Grigory Tomchin, the head of the State Duma Committee for Economic Policy and Business. Tomchin put forward this opinion today at the Petersburg Dialogue forum. He said that 'Russian legislation will be brought in line with WTO legislation' by the end of the spring session of the State Duma. 'The last remaining task is to complete changes to the Customs Code,' the Duma deputy stressed.

According to Tomchin, ratification of the Kyoto Treaty is not related to the timescale for Russia's entry into the WTO, although 'ratification will help Russia to enter the World Trade Organisation.' Yesterday, Oleg Pluzhnikov, the deputy head of the Russian Energy Ministry's Environmental Department, suggested at a press conference that Russia's failure to ratify the Kyoto Treaty could lead to 'a loss of trust on the part of foreign countries.' Pluzhnikov reminded journalists that Russia had won fairly favourable conditions for signing up to the treaty. 'Bearing in mind that ratification by Russia is needed for the treaty to come into force, the other countries made significant concessions to us,' he said. Pluzhnikov also noted that, in September 2002, Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov 'promised the international community that Russia would ratify the Kyoto Treaty.' However, he refused to explain why this had still not happened.

In another development today, representatives of a number of environmental organisations in Russia have sent a letter to the Russian President and Prime Minister, signed by over 250 scientists from the Russian Academy of Sciences. According to Greenpeace's Russian press office, the Russian scientists have asked for the Kyoto Climate Control Treaty to be sent for ratification in the State Duma as soon as possible.