Kyoto protocol an "international Auschwitz"

The Kyoto protocol will impose such strong economic constraints that it will be like an "international Auschwitz" for countries that ratify it, a top aide to Russian president Vladimir Putin has declared. Economic advisor Andrei Illarionov is a well-known opponent of Kyoto within the Russian administration, but his previous criticism pales in comparison with the latest remarks.

Kyoto is a "death treaty" that will "stifle economic growth" and bring "many negative implications" because it will limit Russian carbon emission growth, Mr Illarionov said in comments reported by news agency Interfax on Wednesday.

The global agreement was worse than the Gosplan committee responsible for the famous communist five-year plans, he said. Even Stalinist era prison camps had better conditions, he added: "In a gulag, people were at least given the same rations... from one day to the next, but the Kyoto protocol proposes decreasing rations day by day."

Russia is key to the future of the protocol and the comments reflect intensifying internal debate as a consultation over Kyoto ratification gathers pace following presidential elections. Mr Illarionov has already made his official submission to the government and the foreign ministry is due to do the same next month.

"This isn't the first time Illarionov has been negative about Kyoto," Ewa Hedlund, spokesperson for EU environment commissioner Margot Wallstrm told Environment Daily on Thursday. "It's just stronger language because the debate is heating up." Commission president Romano Prodi will meet the new Russian government next week and is expected to raise the Kyoto issue, she said.

Rob Bradley of campaign group Can Europe said Mr Illarionov was "utterly deranged": "not only is he offensive and inflammatory, but he's millions of miles wide of the mark. There's no way Kyoto will constrain Russian emissions," he told Environment Daily. Its greenhouse gas releases were not forecast to reach 1990 Kyoto baseline levels for at least another twenty years, he claimed. The current protocol runs until 2012.

In a separate development, the European environment agency issued on Tuesday a technical report exploring how implementing the Kyoto protocol could help cut various types of air pollution in Europe. It concludes that a reduction in sulphur dioxide emissions would be the most significant ancillary benefit of cutting carbon dioxide emissions, especially in eastern Europe.

The new report, a first version of which was issued ahead of the Kiev ministerial conference last May, provides more detail on the methodology used and its underlying assumptions, as well as elaborating further on the results.

Republished with permission of Environment Daily.



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