Guest Post by David Holland
The tragic event of Friday reminded me of a lunch-time chat that I had with a Russian, at the London meeting at which Ross McKitrick presented the Fraser Institute’s independent analysis of AR4 in February 2007. Like others, I had been disappointed that the Russians had signed up to Kyoto and even more disappointed at the horse trading over gas prices that had led to it. I had heard of Andrei Illarionov and knew he had been a close advisor to Vladimir Putin. However, I must confess that I thought some of the shocking and frightening things that he said of Mr Putin might have been sour grapes. Over the years since, and particularly after Friday, I have realised that Dr Illarionov was perhaps too soft on him.
President Vladimir Putin yesterday reversed months of fervent opposition to the Kyoto protocol and agreed to speed up Russia's ratification of the treaty.The change of heart - which provides the ratification necessary for the protocol to come into effect - follows a decision by the EU at a summit in Moscow yesterday to drop its objections to Russia joining the World Trade Organisation.“The fact that the European Union has met us halfway at the negotiations on membership in the WTO cannot but influence Moscow's positive attitude towards ratification of the Kyoto protocol. We will accelerate our movement towards ratifying this protocol,” Mr Putin said at the summit.
When the EU asked Russia to join in on Kyoto, not surprisingly, “Russia said: What's in it for us?” explains Annie Petsonk, international counsel for Environmental Defense (ED). Russia wanted more than the dollars from emissions trading, it wanted EU support for its entry into the World Trade Organization.“But the EU wanted Russia in Kyoto badly enough to compromise and support its WTO membership bid. Europe will allow Russia to keep natural gas prices lower at home -- as long as Russia agrees to slowly raise them. The Continent's companies also realized that having Russia sign on to Kyoto would help them because they could meet their own Kyoto targets more cheaply by buying Russian emissions reductions.”