The lower house of Russia’s parliament approved the Kyoto Protocol today.  All that remains for formal Russian ratification is approval by the upper house and the signature of president Vladimir Putin, both widely considered inevitable formalities.  Once Russia signs on, Kyoto will officially take effect.

Suffice to say, Putin’s motivations were not altruistic.  His ratification of Kyoto — and it is entirely his doing, as he has reduced the democratic checks and balances of Russia’s government to almost nothing — is part of a deal with the European Union.  He gives them this bargaining chip against the U.S., and they give him membership in the World Trade Organization.

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Without U.S. participation, Kyoto will achieve nothing.  The hope in what Bush calls “the halls of Europe” is that once world consensus settles on the issue, strict emissions limits are imposed by member governments on industries (many based in the U.S.), and a market in carbon credit trading emerges, the U.S. will have no choice but to hop on the bandwagon.  Think it will work?

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