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WWF Welcomes Russian Government's Decision to Start Process of Ratifying the Kyoto Climate Treaty

Calls on the Russian Duma to Ratify by the World Summit on Sustainable Development

WASHINGTON - Today's decision by the Russian government to start the process of ratification of the Kyoto climate treaty could be the decisive factor in turning the agreement into international law this year, said World Wildlife Fund.

WWF has repeatedly urged the key countries necessary for the treaty to become international law, particularly Russia, to ratify the Kyoto Protocol. On April 10, at a public action organized by WWF during President's Putin visit to Chancellor Schreoder in Weimar, Regina Gunter of WWF Germany questioned President Putin about ratification. "We will do it," promised Putin.

The next day, the Russian government, which postponed consideration of the Kyoto issue four times since March 14 2002, decided to begin the process of ratifying the Kyoto Protocol. This decision puts Russia on track to ratify the climate treaty by autumn 2002. The Russian Ministry of Economic Development will prepare a report on the economic and social consequences of ratification for Russia and a detailed action plan for moving forward. The first step will be to develop the Law of Ratification, which will then be presented to the Duma.

"WWF welcomes Russia's decision as a positive step forward for global efforts to combat global warming, but is concerned that no concrete dates for Duma consideration of the Law of Ratification were included," said Alexey Kokorin, climate expert for WWF Russia. "Time is short. Now the Russian Duma must ratify the Kyoto Protocol before the World Summit on Sustainable Development in late August 2002 in order to meet global expectations."

To enter into force, the Kyoto treaty needs to be ratified by nations that emitted 55 percent of the industrialized world's carbon dioxide emissions in 1990. After the United States pulled out of the treaty one year ago, the Kyoto Protocol can only enter into force if ratified by the European Union and its Member States, Russia, Japan and either Canada or Poland.

The European Union formally decided on March 4 that its 15 Member States would ratify Kyoto by June 1. Japan is making preparations to ratify. In January, Japanese Prime Minister Koizumi called on the Japanese Diet (Parliament) to support ratification during its current session that runs until June 19. The agreement has been ratified by two industrialized nations - Romania and the Czech Republic - and nearly four dozen developing nations. All eyes now turn to Canada, host country for the G8 this year. Environmental ministers are tasked to discuss ratification this weekend in Banff.

"Kyoto is the world's only defense against global warming," said Alexey Kokorin. "There is no substitute for the Kyoto treaty's binding emissions targets and sanctions for countries that fail to meet their targets. It is imperative that all countries take action to cut their global warming pollution."