Putin Commits Russia to Kyoto Protocol

Well, we’ll be damned: Kyoto might just happen. After an international courtship worthy of a Harlequin romance, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced on Friday that his country “will rapidly move toward ratification of this [Kyoto] protocol,” putting an end to months of teasing and contradictory signals (such a coquette!). Putin’s thaw on the issue came in response to a deal with the European Union, which will now back Russia’s entry into the WTO. The announcement stunned international observers, as Putin’s economic advisor and a panel of top Russian scientists had recently warned the president that signing the protocol would be against Russia’s interests. Enviros praised the decision, but after watching Putin vacillate more than Axl Rose, they remained guarded: “I’m cautiously optimistic. It’s not a cut-and-dried promise, but it will be much harder for Russia to decide ‘no’ to Kyoto now,” said Steve Sawyer of Greenpeace. Russia’s commitment would be enough to put the protocol into effect; it would also further isolate the U.S., which has refused to ratify the treaty, if that’s possible.