MOSCOW – Russia's government, ending its wavering, will approve ratification of the Kyoto Protocol (search) on climate change, Russian new agencies said Wednesday.
The 1997 protocol can go into force only with Russian ratification. President Vladimir Putin (search) vowed to speed up the ratification process in May in return for European U approval of Russia's bid to join the World Trade Organization (search).
The Interfax and ITAR-Tass news agencies, quoting unidentified government sources, said the government would approve a draft law Thursday on ratification of the pact to stem global warming. That would mean ratification would have Putin's backing, making approval by parliament highly likely.
Government officials declined to comment on the report.
Earlier this month, officials said the Russian government had asked five ministries to approve ratification, and the World Wildlife Fund said Putin had instructed key ministers to sign off on the ratification documents.
Russian opponents of Kyoto, led by Putin's chief economic adviser Andrei Illarionov, have said joining the international agreement would hurt the country's economic growth and put the president's goal of doubling gross domestic product in a decade out of reach.
On Monday, Illarionov reiterated his sharp criticism of the treaty, but the English-language Moscow Times quoted him Wednesday as saying Russia would ratify it as a political gesture to the EU despite doubts about its scientific and economic merits.
Interfax said the government would submit a draft law on ratification of the Kyoto Protocol to the State Duma, the lower house of parliament.
The Duma is dominated by the pro-Putin United Russia party and approves nearly all laws he backs, but there has been speculation the Kremlin could show support for the protocol publicly but use parliament to reject it.
The EU has long urged Russia to ratify the pact. To come into force, it must be ratified by no fewer than 55 countries that accounted for at least 55 percent of global emissions in 1990. That minimum now can be reached only with Russia's ratification because the United States and several other nations have rejected the treaty.
Supporters say that the treaty, which allows countries to trade greenhouse gas emission allowances, would enable Russia to attract foreign investment to improve the energy-efficiency and competitiveness of its crumbling industries.