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UN official welcomes Russian parliament’s ratification of climate change accord

UN official welcomes Russian parliament’s ratification of climate change accord

The head of the United Nations environment agency today welcomed the decision by the Russian Duma to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, paving the way for the climate change treaty to go into effect.

The fight against climate change “is finally out of the blocks and running as a result of this very welcome decision to ratify by the Russian Parliament,” said Klaus Toepfer, Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP).

“The winning tape, in other words the goal of stabilizing the climate and securing the stability of the planet, is, however, a long way off and we must now redouble efforts to deliver the even deeper cuts in emissions needed,” he added.

To enter into force 55 Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change must ratify the Protocol, including developed countries whose combined 1990 emissions of carbon dioxide exceed 55 per cent of that group’s total. Russia, with 17 per cent of the emissions, would push the amount beyond the threshold, according to the Convention’s secretariat.

Though the United States has not ratified the pact, Mr. Toepfer said, “We must keep the dialogue open so that this key country can hear, and hopefully be eventually won over, to the sound argument that combating climate change makes both environmental and economic sense.”

The UNEP chief also dismissed the notion that the United States is doing nothing to address climate change, noting that some 20 states are adopting or have adopted strategies to reduce emissions.

“There is also a great deal of interest and activity within American business and industry to develop new, more efficient energy systems and to participate in the new global trading emission trading mechanisms that are being developed as a result of Kyoto,” he added.