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Russia is responsible for a significant proportion (17 percent) of greenhouse gas emissions produced by the world’s industrialised nations. Although emission levels have fallen sharply since the collapse of the Soviet Union at the beginning of the 1990s and in the wake of comprehensive economic restructuring, they are expected to climb again over the next few years. As an initial response Federal Councillor Moritz Leuenberger said, “We welcome the decision by Russia’s Lower House in favour of ratification of the Kyoto Protocol, which demonstrates the serious approach on the part of President Putin towards climate policy.”
The Upper House is now expected to follow suit by also approving the ratification of the Kyoto Protocol, which will mean that this instrument will be able to officially enter into effect. The prerequisite for this is that 55 nations representing at least 55 percent of greenhouse gas emissions from industrialised countries have to ratify it. The approval by Russia’s Parliament means that the represented proportion of greenhouse gas emissions has risen to 62 percent. A total of 124 countries have ratified the Kyoto Protocol to date.
“The fact that Russia is pushing ahead with the ratification of the Kyoto Protocol demonstrates that this instrument forms THE framework for international climate policy,” environment and energy minister Moritz Leuenberger went on to point out, even if the USA – which does not question the threat posed by climate change – still refuses to ratify it. He also noted that the entry into force of the Kyoto Protocol confirms and strengthens Switzerland’s own climate policy, and that Switzerland now has to take steps to implement its CO2 Act.
Switzerland ratified the Kyoto Protocol in July 2003, thereby entering into a commitment to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 8 percent in the period from 2008 to 2012. Carbon dioxide (CO2), which is produced through the consumption of fossil fuels, represents almost 80 percent of Switzerland’s greenhouse gas emissions, so the focus is primarily on measures to reduce CO2 levels. The CO2 Act calls for a reduction of energy-related CO2 emissions by 10 percent by 2010. And on 20 October 2004 the Federal Council submitted four options for consultation relating to additional measures to meet the specified reduction target.