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Russia Says Sustaining Economic Growth is More Important Than Ratification of Kyoto Protocol - 2003-10-03

Russian President Vladimir Putin says sustaining economic growth is of greater importance for Russia than any possible financial gain to be derived from ratifying the Kyoto Protocol on global warming. Experts say Russia could benefit economically under the treaty by selling quotas of carbon dioxide emissions authorized under the accord. Moscow's ratification is needed for the treaty to come into force.

Experts estimate Russia could earn billions of dollars from selling spare quotas of carbon dioxide. But President Putin says his first concern is ensuring long-term economic growth, not short-term gain. His economic advisor has characterized the costs associated with implementing the treaty as mind-boggling.

President Putin also says that, while the Kyoto treaty is a move in the right direction in environmental protection, he says it will have little impact on limiting global climate change.

Mr. Putin's remarks at the World Climate Change conference in Moscow dashed the hopes of European governments and environmental groups that Russia would ratify the protocol anytime soon.

The protocol aims to reduce the emissions of so-called greenhouse gases believed responsible for higher global temperatures, as well as for causing extreme weather patterns, such as heat waves, floods and droughts.

Russian ratification is needed to bring the Kyoto protocol into force, after the United States withdrew from the treaty.