Russia demands investment guarantees before ratifying Kyoto protocol
MOSCOW (AFP) Sep 26, 2003
Russia will only ratify the Kyoto treaty on reducing dangerous greenhouse gases if it receives guarantees on investment and on the sale of emission rights, a source close to the presidential administration said Friday.

Russia "is in no hurry to proceed with this ratification," the source said on condition of anonymity.

"We first want a legislative and financial mechanism for the sale of quotas to be drawn up, and we want our Western partners to offer us specific joint projects as well as gurantees on the purchase of Russian emission quotas for a precise sum," the source told reporters.

"We need to modernise our industry and our communal services, and we are waiting for specific proposals from Western financial circles," he said.

Ratification by Russia of the Kyoto treaty, a landmark 1997 pact to significantly cut back "greenhouse gases," is needed for it to come into force after the United States abandoned the agreement.

Russia is a major beneficiary of the Kyoto treaty as the closure of many of its outmoded Soviet-era factories has left it with great deal of scope for selling emission quotas, its pollution levels having fallen substantially since the benchmark year of 1990.

The European countries, Japan and Canada are among those considered potential partners and buyers of quotas, the official said.

"In June, President Vladimir Putin asked several European countries to draw up a financial and commercial mechanism" that would be implemented after ratification of the protocol, but has not as yet received a response, he said.

If Europe is waiting for Russia to ratify the document without proposing concrete projects, it will wait a long time," the official said, stressing that Russia needed to be "sure there will be no unpleasant surprises" after the ratification.

"We are concerned that they may seek to impose rules that are disadvantageous to us," he said.

"Right now the Kyoto protocol issue has become commericial and financial rather than ecological... We have fulfilled all our environmental obligations. Since 1990 we have reduced emissions to the atmosphere by one third."

The official noted that even if Russia's gross national product were to double over the next 10 years, a goal set by Putin earlier this year, "our emissions would still exceed those of 1990."

He also linked Russian ratification with membership of the World Trade Organisation, noting that the quotas could in future be decided by the WTO.

The subject of climate change, believed to be caused by carbon dioxide and other gases that create a greenhouse effect, is due to be discussed at a five-day international conference attended by experts from 43 nations here next week.