UN climate official "encouraged" by Russia but regrets lack of signal
MOSCOW (AFP) Sep 29, 2003
A leading UN official on climate change said Monday she was "encouraged" by action on the issue taken in Russia but expressed disappointment that President Vladimir Putin had failed to give a "precise signal" on ratifying the Kyoto treaty on greenhouse gases.

"I'm encouraged by the action taken on climate change in Russia and on action under way on the Kyoto protocol," Joke Waller-Hunter, executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), told reporters on the sidelines of a five-day international conference taking place in the Russian capital.

"However I'd hoped for a more precise signal on when Russia would be ready to ratify the Kyoto Protocol because our process on climate change is really waiting for that," she said.

Opening the World Conference on Climate Change, Putin set back hopes that Russia would rapidly ratify the protocol, thereby bringing it into force, with a declaration that Moscow had not yet reached a decision and was "meticulously" examining the pros and cons.

His remarks were seen as a step back, with an apparent pledge made at a world summit in Johannesburg last year in which he had appeared to indicate that Russia would sign up to the protocol, bringing it past the threshold number of signatories needed to bring about its implementation.

Waller-Hunter stressed that climate change is "a global problem which needs global, multilateral action, which is why Russia's ratification is so important."

It is "important for the business community" that the Kyoto protocol on reducing emissions of greenhouse gases held responsible for global warming enters into force "because they have to take positions on investment," she noted.

"They have shown that they are ready to do so in many countries, and ready to start implementing (the protocol's) development mechanisms. Thats why it's so important that the international community takes a consolidate stand on this."

Noting that the UNFCCC's ruling body was due to meet in Milan, Italy in two months' time, she added: "We must trust that Russian action is such that when (we) meet in December, the time of study will be over and the time of action will be here."