- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 4, 2002

JOHANNESBURG As negotiators finished a global plan to tackle poverty and save the environment, Russia said yesterday it soon will ratify the Kyoto treaty a move that would bring the key climate-change agreement into effect.

Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov was among a series of leaders at the World Summit on Sustainable Development urging action on the treaty. He said his country planned to ratify the agreement "in the very near future," but did not specify when.

Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien said Monday he would submit the protocol to his Parliament to consider ratification, and China announced yesterday it had already ratified it.

"Different countries have different conditions, however, we should all endeavor to take responsibility for the whole world," said Xie Zhenhua, China's minister of environmental protection.

The United States has been criticized for its rejection of the 1997 Kyoto deal, which requires industrialized countries to reduce greenhouse gases blamed for global warming. But the accord still can come into effect if Russia joins the European Union and Japan in ratifying it.

The protocol can come into force only after it has been ratified by at least 55 of the countries accounting for at least 55 percent of carbon dioxide emissions in 1990. Ratification by Russia will push the numbers beyond 55 percent.

Once the accord is in effect, the nations that have signed on more than 70 so far will be obliged by law to implement the emissions cuts it sets. The United States, which rejected the accord last year, would not be so required.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Christie Whitman said yesterday that the United States supported other countries' ratification of the deal.

But she said the agreement was not appropriate for the United States, which is taking other action to limit climate change.

The movement on the Kyoto Protocol came after negotiators in Johannesburg reached agreement late Monday on their nonbinding action plan for sustainable development. In one provision of that plan worked out in a compromise with the United States, nations backing the protocol "strongly urge" states that have not done so to ratify it in "a timely manner."

Fifty heads of state and other dignitaries addressed the summit yesterday. Secretary of State Colin L. Powell was to speak on the closing day today.

President Bush, in one of his first acts of office, last year announced he would not present the Kyoto deal to the Senate for ratification, and Australia, a close U.S. ally, has followed Washington in refusing to ratify.

Mr. Bush said it would be too costly for the U.S. economy to meet the emissions-cutting targets set down in the accord negotiated under his predecessor, Bill Clinton.

Under the pact, industrialized signatories can "trade" pollution under a planned market in carbon dioxide emissions. A country that is under its quota target can sell some of that surplus to another signatory that is over its target.

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