Russia gave final approval to the Kyoto Protocol as President Vladimir V. Putin signed legislation ratifying the landmark environmental pact that seeks to slow global warming by reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the Kremlin said Friday.
The protocol, which was ratified by both houses of Russia’s parliament last month, commits its signatories to making significant cuts in emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases by 2012.
The United States and Australia have rejected the pact, which Putin signed late Thursday. The pact requires the approval of countries responsible for at least 55% of global emissions in 1990 before it can take effect. It could not have done so without Russia, which accounted for 17% of carbon dioxide emissions that year. The U.S. accounted for 36%.
Japanese Environment Minister Yuriko Koike said this week that Tokyo -- one of the pact’s biggest promoters -- would “continuously urge the United States, Australia and other countries which have not ratified the protocol” to do so.
The pact’s approval followed fierce debate among Russian officials. Opponents led by Putin’s economic advisor, Andrei Illarionov, warned that its requirements would hobble the nation’s humming economy.
The pact’s backers, however, have rejected the claim, saying that even after a five-year recovery, the post-Soviet economic meltdown has left emissions about 30% below the baseline set in the protocol.
Putin pledged in May to speed up approval in return for the European Union’s support of Russia’s bid to join the World Trade Organization. The 1997 pact will take effect 90 days after Russia notifies the United Nations of its ratification.