- With Russia being one of the world’s largest polluters, environmental activists diligently campaigned for the Russian Federation to sign up to the Kyoto Protocol of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The international agreement was designed to reduce greenhouse gases and carbon emissions by members by 5.2 percent from 1990 levels. While European Union (EU) members were expected to reduce their output by a larger metric (12 percent), Russia was not required to make any reductions, only needing to keep the country’s pollution at 1990 levels. Initially, Vladimir Putin had taken an ambivalent position on signing up to the protocol, with some advisors suggesting that, due to its cold climate, Russia might benefit from global warming, while others worried about its impact on the Russian economy and industry. American President George W. Bush’s decision not to ratify the treaty had placed the entire scheme in jeopardy, since it required that members’ emissions account for 55 percent of all emissions. The participation of Russia, which accounted for 17 percent of global greenhouse and carbon gases, thus became an absolute necessity for the protocol to come into force. Putin ultimately agreed to join Kyoto on 4 November 2005, putting the emissions count over the 55 percent threshold (the United Russia–dominated State Duma ratified the Kyoto Protocol on 18 November 2004). The decision was seen as a political one, since, at the time, Putin was looking to shore up his relations with key EU members France and Germany, while isolating the United States.
Historical Dictionary of the Russian Federation. Robert A. Saunders and Vlad Strukov. 2010.
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