Scientists hand Putin weapon to kill Kyoto treatyLeading Russian scientists told President Vladimir Putin yesterday that the Kyoto emissions treaty discriminates against Russia, would damage its economy and would not significantly reduce global warming, increasing the chance that the Kremlin will refuse to ratify the agreement.
Experts from the Russian Academy of Sciences submitted a report to the Kremlin containing their long-awaited assessment of the scientific virtues of the pact for Russia. The document, according to the Interfax news agency, said: "Its effectiveness in reducing the concentration of greenhouse gases in line with the framework convention on the climate change is low."
The scientists added that global warming was occurring, but that to conclude that "the warming is occurring exclusively due to anthropogenic pollutants, namely, manmade emissions" was questionable.
They said the total benefit to Russia would be a small drop in the concentration of carbon dioxide in the air over the next 10 years, but the total cost of the pact's emission-reduction measures would be "tens of trillions of dollars over a hundred years".
The report said: "If Russia ratifies the Kyoto protocol, it would have to either reduce its economic growth or buy additional quotas on greenhouse emissions." The scientists added that Russia's extreme climate was not taken into account by the protocol.
The report, signed by a fierce Kyoto critic, Yuri Israel, will give Mr Putin the scientific justification he needs to kill off the treaty.
To come into effect, the 1997 protocol must be ratified by at least 55 countries which accounted for 55% of global greenhouse gas emissions in 1990. After the US and other key states rejected the pact, Russia's ratification became key for it to come into effect.
Mr Putin has procrastinated over the decision for months, saying he will not sign anything while it remains against Russia's national interests, yet apparently holding out for last minute concessions from the EU.
His key adviser, Andrei Illarionov, has repeatedly panned the treaty, saying it would amount to an "economic Auschwitz" for growth in Russia, where the Kremlin has ambitiously pledged to double GDP in 10 years.
On Friday, a Russia-EU summit in Moscow will see increased pressure for Russia to sign. Yet Mr Putin is thought to be torn between rejecting the treaty, which could ease Moscow's frayed relations with Washington and remove perceived constraints on economic growth, and ratifying it, which would improve its standing with the EU, its new, expanding neighbour.
The US is responsible for 24% of the world's carbon dioxide emissions, while Russia accounts for 17.4%. Moscow in any case faces a daunting task in meeting treaty requirements, given its legacy of polluting Soviet industries.
The EU, Japan and the rest of the developed world adopted the agreement more than three years ago.