Russia Still Dithering Over Kyoto

Russia continues to vacillate over whether to sign the Kyoto Protocol on climate change, and the stakes could not be higher. Kyoto requires that developed nations representing 55 percent of global carbon-dioxide emissions sign on before it comes into force. Currently countries responsible for 40 percent of emissions are accounted for, and the U.S., representing 30 percent of the total, has refused to sign, which leaves Russia to make or break the treaty. Different sectors of Russian society have been fiercely lobbying on the matter. Many business groups oppose the treaty, as does the Kremlin’s official economic adviser, Andrei Illarionov, who last month referred to Kyoto as “a global Auschwitz.” Many Russian scientists and enviros argue that the treaty represents a way to eschew Soviet-style pollution and skip to postindustrial energy efficiency. State bodies have until May 20 to offer advice on the treaty to Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has made contradictory statements about Kyoto. The world waits with bated breath.