Russia and Canada to ratify Kyoto

The Kyoto Protocol will soon be able to come into effect, following announcements by both Russia and Canada at the Johannesburg Summit that they will ratify.

According to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), as of 30 August countries accounting for a total of 37.1% of global man-made carbon dioxide emissions had so far ratified the Kyoto Protocol. With Russia accounting for 17% of global emissions, and Canada accounting for 3%, the target of 55% of emissions required before the Protocol can come into effect will be reached when the two nations ratify.

Russia is the world’s third largest polluter of greenhouse gases, producing around 17%, and Chairman of the Government Michail M Kasyanov’s announcement on 3 September at the Johannesburg talks has been widely described as giving the Kyoto Protocol the kiss of life. By 2008 Russian emissions are expected to be 20% lower than 1990, which means that the country would be able to sell the credits earned for billions of dollars.

Despite facing opposition on Kyoto from industry and state governments (see related story), Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien stated on 2 September that the imperative for action on climate change is strongly felt by Canadians. Canada is the world’s third largest per capita emitter of greenhouse gases (see related story).

“On the basis of extensive and ongoing consultations with other levels of government and stakeholders, we are finalising a plan of implementation that will permit us to achieve the objectives of the Kyoto Accord,” said Chrétien. “When the consultations have concluded, and before the end of the year, the Canadian Parliament will be asked to vote on the ratification of the Kyoto Accord.”

The Canadian Prime Minister also noted that developing countries will not be able to rise out of poverty if they are not given wider access to world markets. “As of January 2003, Canada will eliminate tariffs and quotas on almost all products from the least developed countries,” said Chrétien. “Agricultural subsidies in rich nations remain a fundamental obstacle. And we call on developed nations to make the elimination of such subsidies a top priority.”

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