Russia Dragging Heels on Kyoto

The United States isn't the only country refusing to sign the Kyoto Protocol aimed at reducing global warming. This week in Moscow, Russian President Vladimir Putin and his economic adviser Andrei Illarionov confirmed that Russia does not want to harm its economic prospects by implementing the Kyoto Protocol.

Some experts maintain the Kyoto Protocol is only one possible way of dealing with climate change.

Richard Lindzen, Sloan Professor of Meteorology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, commented, "Climate change is inevitable as a result of natural processes, and regardless of human factors. The Kyoto Protocol or similar regimes will have an insignificant impact on climate. This is true even if one believes that climate change in the past century has been significantly affected by humanity, or that the model projections are correct."

The Kyoto Protocol imposes restrictions on emissions of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide and methane. These gases are emitted by nearly all-industrial processes, including most forms of power generation. Putin and Illarionov believe estrictions on emissions would constrain economic activity and drive up energy costs, reduce investment and retard technological development in Russia.

Martin Agerup, economist and president of the Academy of Future Studies, in Denmark, agrees with Putin, saying, "Kyoto would be particularly harmful to a country such as Russia, which is on the cusp of a period of rapid economic growth and technological development."

Representatives of EU member states have been trying to persuade Russia to ratify Kyoto, but some experts believe that EU countries may be better off if Russia does not ratify.

"Kyoto would slow economic growth in the EU and in Russia without providing any substantive benefits. If Russia does not ratify, Kyoto will not come into force, so both Russia and EU countries will grow more rapidly and then can look for alternative solutions to climate change," said Julian Morris, of the UK's University of Buckingham and International Policy Network.

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