WASHINGTON - "History was made in Moscow today as the Russian Duma approved the Kyoto Protocol, clearing the way for its now all but certain ratification and launching the first global effort to address global warming, the most serious environmental threat of our time.
"Russian ratification will leave the U.S. virtually alone among industrialized countries in failing to address climate change. And as the rest of the world begins adopting climate friendly technologies, American businesses are in danger of being left as far behind as a Model T at NASCAR.
"Concerned about maintaining their competitiveness, a number of U.S. companies are already beginning to realize this and, on their own, started to incorporate C02 reduction plans into their long-term business strategies. They understand what politicians apparently do not: that the transition to sustainable, renewable and non-polluting fuels is inevitable and that reducing CO2 emissions is simply part of a smart business plan.
"World Wildlife Fund remains committed to working with such companies, through programs like Climate Savers and Power Switch!, to help them position themselves to stay competitive in the post-fossil fuel future.
"To end its growing isolation, guarantee the long-term competitiveness of its industry and ensure that our children inherit an environmentally liveable world, the United States needs to join the coalition to stop global warming."
Note to editors: A first step to combat global warming, the Kyoto Protocol commits 38 industrialized countries to cut their emissions of greenhouse gases by 2012 to levels that are about 5 percent below 1990 levels.
The protocol only enters into force once 55 countries have ratified, including enough industrialized countries to account for at least 55 percent of total CO2 emissions from industrialized countries in 1990.
One hundred and twenty-six countries have so far ratified the Kyoto Protocol, far more than the 55 countries needed. Now with Russias ratification of the climate treaty, these countries represent 55 percent of industrialized-country CO2 emissions. The United States - the world's largest emitter of CO2 - declared it will not seek ratification in 2001, making Russia the pivotal country whose ratification makes the Kyoto Protocol become international law.