Member states of the European Union have urged Russia to ratify the Kyoto Protocol on greenhouse gases.
As European Union ministers met in Italy, the Union's environment commissioner Margot Wallstroem said Russia would gain economically from ratification. Since the United States rejected the Kyoto agreement two years ago, Russia's ratification has become vital to reach the threshold needed for it to take effect. Moscow announced on 13.07.2003 that it would ratify the Kyoto protocol, but has not yet done so.
Mrs Wallstroem said western countries would invest in emission-cutting technology in Russia. "What we can do at the moment is...to demonstrate that we are also interested in providing them with clean technology," she told the meeting in Italy.
Delegates said they believed that Russia's uncertainty was due to economic factors, rather than any objection to the agreement in principle. The United States has said that the cost of implementing Kyoto would be damaging to its economy.
To come into effect, the Kyoto protocol must be ratified by at least 55 countries, including those responsible for 55% per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions in 1990. Once Russia signs, tie protocol will come into effect.
The prime ministers of Japan and Britain, Junichiro Koizumi and Tony Blair, made their own appeal to Russia after their talks.
The Kyoto Protocol, agreed in 1997, is the first serious international attempt to tackle the human-induced greenhouse effect. The vast majority of environmental scientists believe that gases emitted from industry, transport and domestic heating are warming up the Earth's atmosphere.
Rising sea levels could endanger low-lying coastal areas.
A minority of scientists still insist the changes seen in the last 100 years are consistent with natural variability. Kyoto requires industrialised countries to cut their emissions to 8% below their 1990 level.
(The Ecologist". July 2003)
Read the text, define its main idea.
RUSSIA ROWS FURTHER AWAY FROM KYOTO
A senior adviser to President Vladimir Putin has cast further doubt on whether Russia will ever ratify the Kyoto agreement on limiting emissions of the greenhouse gases linked to global warming.
Andrei Illarionov, who advises the president on economic policy, was speaking the day after Mr Putin refused to set a timetable for Russian ratification, angering supporters of Kyoto around the world.
So long as Russia stays out, the UN protocol setting targets for cutting emissions from the burning of fossil fuels cannot take legal effect.
Speaking at the World Climate Change Conference in Moscow, Mr Illarionov said: "The words of President Putin cannot be interpreted as saying that Russia will ratify the Kyoto protocol but that it is just a matter of time. He never said that. "The president said that we are in the process of studying the Kyoto Protocol and all the consequences of it. That will take time. What decision will be taken remains to be seen".
Mr Illarionov, a key member of Mr Putin's inner circle of advisers, went on to question whether it would be in Russia's economic interests to sign up to Kyoto, despite the 30% cut in emissions which have taken place since 1990 due to the collapse of traditional smokestack industries.
KYOTO PROTOCOL agreed at Kyoto, Japan in 1997 commits industrialised nations to reduce emissions of six greenhouse gases. Emission cuts to average 5.2% below 1990 levels within 10 years. He argued that economic growth in Russia would bring its emissions back up to 1990 levels by the end of the decade, so it would not have any spare pollution allowances to sell - rejecting the claim that the country stood to gain financially from the treaty.
And beyond 2012, the end date for the targets agreed at Kyoto, the costs for Russia could start to mount if further cuts in emissions were required. "It's quite clear that the Russian economy is not going to stop at the amount of carbon dioxide emissions that we have today or that we shall have in 2012. "That's why it is necessary to calculate the costs which will have to be balanced against any possible gains," said Mr Illarionov. "The United States and Australia have calculated that they cannot bear the economic consequences of ratifying the Kyoto Protocol. If they aren't rich enough to deal with those consequences, my question is whether Russia is much richer than the US or Australia?"
Mr Illarionov's analysis is challenged by many economists, including some in Russia, but his downbeat comments indicate how difficult it is going to be to persuade Mr Putin to move ahead with Kyoto.
Taken together with a succession of Russian scientists using this conference to cast doubt on the science of global warming, the event is provingsomething of a nightmare for supporters of worldwide action to combat climate change.
Answer the questions to the text.
1. Why has Russia's ratification of the protocol become vital?
2. In what way do western countries plan to assist Russia's ratification of the protocol?
3. What is the main reason for the United States rejection of the protocol?
4. Describe the message of Andrei Illarionov to the World Climate Change Conference in Moscow, Specify economic points covered in his address.
5. Express your point of view on this controversial issue. Give your reasons.
6. Describe present situation with Russia's ratification of the protocol. Has any progress been made?
Read the following text to see the situation developing in the USA and UK.