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Russia and the Kyoto ProtocolLaura A. Henry and Lisa McIntosh Sundstrom
Russia and the Kyoto Protocol: Seeking
an Alignment of Interests and Image
Laura A. Henry and Lisa McIntosh Sundstrom*
On November 5, 2004, the Russian Federation ratiªed the Kyoto Protocol. This
act propelled the agreement beyond its threshold requiring the participation of
Annex 1 states representing 55 percent of 1990 greenhouse gas emissions and
allowed the protocol to come into force on February 15, 2005. At ªrst glance, it
is surprising that Russia turned out to be the key ratifying state of the Kyoto Pro
tocol. The Russian government has spent the last ªfteen years focused on eco
nomic recovery and development, and environmental regulation and treaties
have fallen low on its list of priorities. In the 1990s, Russian representatives to
climate change negotiations seemed more concerned about negotiating favor-
able terms for their participation than forestalling climate change. The Russian
delegation advocated that language be inserted in the treaty to differentiate par-
ticipating countries’ obligations based on their varying climatic, socioeconomic,
and other conditions, and that transitional economies should be allowed a
“a certain degree of ºexibility” in meeting their emissions targets.
Ukraine also insisted on the 1990 level of carbon emissions as their shared
binding target, despite the fact that the two countries’ greenhouse gas emissions
had dropped substantially in the following decade due to the collapse of Soviet-
More recently, Russia has become the world’s largest exporter of
natural gas, the second largest oil exporter, and the third largest energy con
Russia’s economic growth signiªcantly depends on the demand for
Yet for close analysts of the Kyoto Protocol and Russia, there were clear in
centives for Russia’s participation in the agreement. Russia experienced massive
* The research for this project was supported by a grant from the Weyerhaeuser Foundation at the
University of British Columbia. The authors are grateful to Olga Beznosova, Kristin Cavoukian,
and Dmitry Balashov for their excellent research assistance, the fourteen individuals in Moscow
and Washington who generously agreed to be interviewed, as well as Gary Wilson, two anony
mous reviewers, and numerous colleagues at the University of British Columbia who provided
helpful suggestions to improve the argument.
1. Kokeyev 2005. For text, see Article 3, Para. 6 of the text of the Kyoto Protocol.
2. Moe and Tangen 2000, 15.
3. Energy Information Administration 2006.
Global Environmental Politics 7:4, November 2007
© 2007 by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
industrial decline in the immediate aftermath of the Soviet Union’s collapse.
Since 1990 is the benchmark year for emissions limits under Kyoto, Russia has
considerable room to increase emissions prior to 2012 before it will exceed its
Kyoto emissions targets. Russia also can sell its excess credits or attract invest
ment designed to further reduce emissions. The real puzzle is why Russia took
so long to ratify the treaty since, to outside observers, its potential for material
gains (or at least negligible costs) from ratiªcation seemed clear all along. There
were a number of reasons for the delay. First, there was signiªcant pessimism re
garding the consequences of Kyoto among some prominent Russian scientists,
who doubted the link between carbon emissions and climate change, and econ
omists, who argued that Russia would have to limit its economic growth to
avoid exceeding Kyoto emissions limits before 2012 and that direct material
beneªts from the protocol might not be as great as expected. Second, once the
United States announced its decision not to ratify, Russia, responsible for 17.4
percent of 1990 emissions, became the only state with sufªcient emissions to
bring the protocol into effect, and therefore held a crucial diplomatic bargain
ing chip. As a result of these two factors, President Vladimir Putin had incentives
to delay a decision until he had (a) clariªed the balance of evidence regarding
causes of climate change and economic consequences of ratiªcation; and (b) se-
cured signiªcant rewards from international partners on other issues in ex-
change for ratiªcation, while still elevating Russia’s image as a cooperative part-
ner in international affairs. These international factors explain why Putin, who
in Russia’s highly centralized system retains a great degree of autonomy in for-
eign affairs, made numerous contradictory statements relating to Kyoto prior to
ratiªcation and why he allowed Kyoto critics close to his administration to con-
tinue their negative public statements for so long. Putin wished to maintain a
sense of uncertainty about the likelihood of Russia’s ratiªcation in order to ob-
tain inducements from other Kyoto-ratifying states.
The factors behind Russia’s ratiªcation of the Kyoto Protocol shed light on
a lively debate within international relations and comparative politics about
what motivates states to commit to international agreements.
In this paper, we
focus on the roles of interests, ideas, and institutions at the domestic and inter
national levels in shaping Russia’s ratiªcation decision. In international rela
tions, typical neorealist and neoliberal arguments focus on a state’s interests.
Neorealists point to a state’s fundamental interest in increasing its relative
power; therefore, states will sign treaties only when the terms are advantageous
to their economic or military standing relative to other states.
institutionalists agree that states conclude agreements when it is in their self-
interest, but argue that identifying areas of mutual beneªt can lead to agree
ments that are advantageous for all parties in resolving collective problems.
ternational institutions that develop over time can lead to cooperation on new
48 • Russia and the Kyoto Protocol
4. Haggard and Simmons 1987; Roberts et al. 2004; and Hall 1993.
5. Mearsheimer 1994.
6. Keohane 1984.
issues. Those states that have participated actively in resolving collective envi
ronmental issues in the past are therefore more likely to participate in new
agreements. Constructivists assert that shared norms, transmitted and pro
moted by networks of nonstate actors, and states’ expressions of their cultural
identities increasingly serve as the basis for international treaties.
proaches, deriving from comparative politics, emphasize the roles that domestic
public opinion, interest groups, and political institutions play in inºuencing
foreign policy and treaty adoption.
Ratiªcation of an agreement may affect the
electoral fortunes of a political party or individual; economic interest groups
may persuade a government that ratiªcation is or is not beneªcial; and political
institutions may provide more or fewer veto points in the decision-making pro
In the case of Russia, a highly centralized institutional decision-making
process provided a ªlter through which economic interests and foreign policy
concerns were weighed to produce a decision in favor of ratiªcation.
In addition to its relevance in assessing the explanatory power of different
theoretical approaches, the process of ratiªcation in Russia has signiªcance for
the persistence, expansion, and effectiveness of Kyoto objectives. First, does Rus-
sia intend to participate actively in Kyoto mechanisms and to reduce its own
carbon emissions or will it use its generous emissions target merely to comply
with, but not actively implement, the agreement? In this early stage of imple-
mentation, Russia’s commitment to the protocol remains uncertain. Russia’s
top-down process of decision-making about ratiªcation has slowed implemen-
tation, resulting in domestic institutions poorly equipped to take advantage of
the agreement’s opportunities. Thus, the same institutional context that facili-
tated ratiªcation may in fact hinder implementation of the protocol. Second,
on some political and economic measures, Russia more closely resembles those
states that will play a crucial role in Kyoto’s future—China, India, and Brazil—
than do most other Annex 1 countries. Russia’s concern about the protocol’s po
tential to constrain economic growth is shared by developing states. Politically,
decision-making patterns within Russia’s government institutions bear a resem
blance to China and other non-democracies.
The Politics of Ratiªcation
Despite the long delay in Russia’s ªnal decision to ratify Kyoto, there were a
number of material factors in favor of ratiªcation from the protocol’s conclu
sion in 1997. Russia’s emissions fell by an estimated 30 percent between 1990
and 2000, meaning that in practice Russia could increase signiªcantly its carbon
dioxide emissions without violating the letter of the agreement.
scope for further emissions reductions by Russia’s inefªcient industrial sectors
Laura A. Henry and Lisa McIntosh Sundstrom • 49
7. Boli and Thomas 1999; Meyer et al. 1997; and Katzenstein 1996.
8. Goldstein and Keohane 1993; and Putnam 1988.
9. Tsebelis 2002; and Immergut 1992.
10. Dudek et al. 2004, 132.
makes Russia the largest potential seller of emissions credits on the interna
tional market. In 2001, estimates of Russia’s potential annual income from the
sale of its carbon emissions ranged from US $4 billion to $35 billion annually.
In addition, Russia seemed a likely beneªciary of Kyoto’s joint implementation
(JI) program in which states can earn emissions credits by investing in reducing
emissions or enhancing removal by carbon sinks.
In April 2002, President Putin announced that Russia soon would move
forward on the Kyoto Protocol, leading many observers to expect that Russia
would ratify in time for the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Jo
hannesburg in September 2002.
Yet Russia did not do so. In order to under
stand the delay, we need to take a closer look at the debate over the protocol in
side Russia, paying particular attention to the way in which ideas, domestic
interests, and institutions intersected with international factors.
A signiªcant battle of scientiªc and economic ideas framed the domestic debate
for and against ratiªcation. Most climate scientists, ecologists, and environ-
mental economists in Russia agreed that ratiªcation was advisable because
(1) greenhouse gas emissions contribute to global warming, and (2) Russia’s ex-
pected economic growth and carbon intensity trends would not cause the coun-
try to exceed the allowable emissions threshold under the treaty, which meant
that ratiªcation had little or no economic cost for Russia. In fact, many econo-
mists projected that Russia would beneªt from Kyoto through treaty mecha-
nisms that would encourage international partners to pay for the moderniza-
tion of Russia’s industrial and energy sectors.
Yet the director of the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Global Climate and
Ecology Institute, Yuri Izrael, and the president’s chief economic adviser, Andrei
Illarionov, were two powerful dissenters from these claims. Izrael questioned
whether or not climate change is signiªcantly caused by anthropogenic emis
sions. A Russian Academy of Sciences report spearheaded by Izrael and deliv
ered to President Putin stated that the Kyoto Protocol “lacks scientiªc validity
and would not be effective.”
Izrael went so far as to ask Putin to revoke his
signature of the Protocol and continued his opposition to the agreement even
after Russia ratiªed.
Izrael’s views did not represent the entire scientiªc com
munity, however. In fact, in reaction to Izrael’s position, more than 250 mem
50 • Russia and the Kyoto Protocol
11. Victor et al. 2001.
12. WWF 2002.
13. Dudek et al. 2004.
14. Enserink 2004, 319.
15. Authors’ interview with Aleksandr Kosarikov, Deputy Chair, Ecology Committee, Russian State
Duma, Moscow, 5 July 2005; “Kyoto Protocol to Destroy Russian Economic with Unnecessary
Payments,” Pravda.ru, 5 July 2005; and “Climate Change: Not a Global Threat,” RIA Novosti, 23
bers of the Academy of Sciences signed a petition in 2003 supporting Kyoto
In the two years prior to the ratiªcation decision, Illarionov developed
and publicized an economic model projecting that Russia’s GDP was likely to
double over the next decade and that the country would then necessarily exceed
its 1990 greenhouse gas emission levels. In that case, Russia would shortly ªnd
itself a buyer, not a seller, of emissions credits. In the prestigious Russian journal
Voprosy ekonomiki (Problems of Economics), Illarionov argued that “ratiªcation
of the Kyoto Protocol will force Russia’s economic actors to face a dilemma: ei
ther acquisition of emissions quotas on the external market, or a necessary
slowdown (cessation) of economic activity.”
In an August 2004 paper from his
Institute of Economic Analysis (IEA), Illarionov claimed that in order not to ex
ceed 1990 emissions levels by 2012, Russia would be limited to GDP growth of
1.25 percent per year, which allowed neither the doubling of GDP nor, in fact,
growth rates that had been typical for Russia’s economy since 1998.
Illarionov also pointed out that Russia’s burden was unfair, noting that “Russia,
which now actually accounts for just 6 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, will
have to implement reductions while China, which accounts for 13 percent, has
no obligations and the US, which accounts for almost a third, has rejected them
However, most economists doubted that Russia’s economy would grow
sufªciently quickly or with the necessary fuel mix to approach 1990 emissions
levels. Critics of Illarionov argued that he did not take into account the declin-
ing carbon intensity of Russia’s economy, and pointed out that there is no direct
relationship between economic growth and intensity of carbon usage.
industries now produce 3.8 times more greenhouse gases than the leading Euro-
pean countries per dollar of GDP when measured at purchasing power parity, a
number that will decline as industries adopt more energy efªcient production
In a report directly responding to Illarionov’s IEA paper, econo
mists at Environmental Defense estimated that even if Russia experiences robust
economic growth with a doubling of GDP by 2012, it will only reach 86 percent
of its Kyoto-allowed carbon emissions, and that there is a zero probability Rus
sia will exceed its Kyoto target.
World Bank economists similarly cast doubt on
the Illarionov model.
In spite of these critiques, Illarionov continued to object
vociferously to the Kyoto Protocol even after Russia’s decision to ratify.
Laura A. Henry and Lisa McIntosh Sundstrom • 51
16. Authors’ interview with Natalia Oleªrenko, Climate Project Coordinator, Greenpeace Russia,
Moscow, 13 July 2005; and Karas 2004, 6.
17. Illarionov and Pivovarova 2004, 57.
18. Institute of Economic Analysis 2004, 55.
19. Labohm 2004.
20. Bobylev et al. 2004, 6–8.
21. Yulkin 2005, 12.
22. Golub et al. 2004, 26.
23. Lecocq and Shalizi 2004, 5–12.
24. “Press Conference with Presidential Economic Adviser Andrei Illarionov,” Interfax, 16 February
In addition to these debates about the causes of climate change and the
likelihood of ratiªcation constraining economic growth, ideas about how par
ticipation in the protocol would affect Russia’s international image seemed to
be signiªcant in pushing Russia towards ratiªcation. Numerous observers of the
debate stated in interviews that they believed President Putin was motivated to
ratify Kyoto partly to conªrm Russia’s identity as a conscientious member of the
international community, together with most of the West. We discuss this factor
further below in the section on the ratiªcation decision.
Press coverage of Russia’s debate over the Kyoto Protocol was dominated by the
pronouncements of Izrael and Illarionov. These opponents, although few in
number, were formidable due to their stature as the leading Russian climatolo
gist and the president’s leading adviser on economic issues. Many of those in
volved in the debate also interpreted Illarionov’s remarks as representative of
President Putin’s position. In 2003, partly as a result of the arguments of these
vocal critics, the Kyoto decision process slowed down signiªcantly.
In spite of the high proªle opposition to Kyoto, however, a number of in-
terest groups worked in support of the protocol. Nongovernmental organiza-
tions such as the World Wildlife Fund-Russia, Greenpeace Russia, the Center for
Russian Environmental Policy, Eco-Accord, the Russian Regional Environmental
Center, and others countered arguments against the protocol, reaching out to
government ofªcials and the general public. For example, Aleksei Kokorin of
WWF-Russia notes that his organization published more than one hundred arti-
cles in favor of Kyoto ratiªcation, in addition to participating in numerous radio
and television interviews. At various times WWF also strategically employed up
to ªfteen contractors who worked inside government ministries to write reports
on the legal and ecological implications of Kyoto, which could then be passed
on to the relevant government ofªcials. Greenpeace Russia established a joint
web page, entitled “Kyoto, yes!” for supporters to post publications and an
nounce Kyoto-related events.
NGOs also sponsored independent research.
Yuri Safonov, an economist at the Moscow Higher School of Economics and
afªliate of Environmental Defense and the Russian Regional Environmental
Center, explains “we actually provided [Illarionov] with reports, presentations,
and articles showing that there is no serious reason to doubt that Russia would
fulªll its commitments on Kyoto and there is no situation under which Russia
would not get beneªts.”
In addition to ªghting the domestic “information war,” NGOs cooperated
with their international allies. Once the United States decided not to ratify
Kyoto, the attention of Greenpeace International’s Kyoto campaign became fo
52 • Russia and the Kyoto Protocol
25. Available at http://kyoto-da.org.ru/docs/kyoto.shtml.
26. Authors’ interview with Yuri Safonov, environmental economist, Moscow School of Higher
Economics, Moscow, 14 July 2005.
cused on Russia. In October 2003, Greenpeace Russia, with the help of Green
peace International, gathered approximately ten thousand signatures for a letter
asking President Putin to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, which was delivered to the
president’s ofªce and to Russian embassies in more than thirty countries on
Putin’s birthday. Also in 2003, the Center for Russian Environmental Policy, in
conjunction with the US-based organization Environmental Defense, organized
the Social Forum on Climate Change. The Forum was designed to coincide with
President Putin’s World Conference on Climate Change and to present expert
and public opinion on the question of ratiªcation, addressing the economic,
environmental, and social beneªts of Kyoto. Ultimately, more than 250 people
from 33 countries attending the Social Forum produced a ªnal statement
afªrming the existence of global warming and advocating Russia’s ratiªcation of
the Kyoto Protocol.
Yet despite the advocacy of environmental NGOs, the Russian public re
mained largely unengaged in the debate over ratiªcation. In general, environ
mental organizations are not well known by the Russian public. A 2005 survey
by the Public Opinion Foundation found that even in Moscow, site of the most
recognized and active green NGOs, only 33 percent of respondents were aware
of the existence of environmental organizations in the city.
In addition, in
June 2005, the polling agency ROMIR, in a survey of 1500 Russians across the
federation, found that the environment ranked ninth in an open question
about respondents’ current concerns.
Knowledge of the Kyoto Protocol also
appeared to be low. A 2003 survey arranged by Greenpeace-Russia and executed
by the organization Popular Initiative, including 1000 citizens from 18 Russian
oblasts, found that 80.7 percent of respondents had never heard of the Kyoto
Protocol, and 73.7 percent did not know whether Russia’s ratiªcation of it
would help to resolve the problem of climate change.
Vladimir Zakharov of
the Center for Russian Environmental Policy argues that ignorance is not the
same as opposition, however, suggesting that “the population . . . knows little
about [Kyoto]. . . . But when people ªnd out about it, they say: that is a good
Many Kyoto supporters attribute the public’s ambivalence to the nega
tive media coverage of the issue. Several pro-Kyoto activists estimated that
eighty percent of the news coverage was either negative or incorrect.
Some of Russia’s most powerful business interests were allies of the Kyoto
Laura A. Henry and Lisa McIntosh Sundstrom • 53
27. Text available at http://www.environmentaldefense.org/subissue.cfm?subissue?13.
28. Fond “Obshchestvennoe Mnenie” 2005.
29. ROMIR, Facts and Figures, June 2005, available at http://www.rmh.ru/en/news/res_results/
31.html, accessed 19 July 2006.
30. Molnin 2003. Note that this survey emphasized remote cities and urban villages, “rather than
big cities where the level of information ºow is higher” (Molnin 2003, 17), so the lack of public
awareness shown in this statistics may be somewhat exaggerated.
31. Authors’ interview with Vladimir Zakharov, Director, Center for Russian Environmental Policy,
Moscow, 28 June 2005.
32. Authors’ interview with Aleksei Kokorin, Climate Change Program Coordinator, WWF-Russia,
Moscow, 29 June 2005; and Safonov interview.
supporters, which contrasts with many other advanced industrialized democra
cies, such as the United States, Canada, and Australia, where energy and natural
resource sectors in particular have been opposed to Kyoto. Certainly many busi
nesses, such as Norilsk Nickel and oil companies such as Yukos, opposed
Norilsk Nickel was purportedly opposed due to its fear of height
ened environmental standards for industry in the Arctic. Oil companies were
understandably opposed due to the concern that Kyoto requirements would re
duce demand for their products and place further restrictions on their activities.
Indeed, according to some observers, the international conglomerate Exxon-
Mobil was a strong lobbyist against Russia’s ratiªcation.
Yet ªrms such as
United Energy System (RAO UES), Russian Aluminum, Gazprom, the service-
sector giant “Sistema,” Siberian Ural Aluminum, and the Russian Union of In
dustrialists and Entrepreneurs supported ratiªcation and acknowledged the po
tential advantages of the protocol. The most notable representative of business
interests was the National Carbon Union (NCU), a coalition of Russian eco
nomic actors who formed a nonproªt advocacy organization after participating
in a working group under the Russian president’s economic directorate in
The NCU’s current members, responsible for more than one-third of
Russia’s greenhouse gases, advocate market mechanisms for emissions reduc-
tions, including a domestic emissions trading program, and seek to attract for-
eign investment through participation in joint implementation projects.
According to its leader, Stepan Dudarev, the NCU supplied the Ministry of Eco-
nomic Development and Trade with research materials related to Kyoto ratiªca-
tion and implementation.
Oleg Pluzhnikov, head of the environmental eco-
nomics division at the ministry, agrees that business pressure played a positive
role in the ratiªcation process, noting that businesses independently arranged
projects with potential investors, demonstrating their desire to take advantage
of Kyoto mechanisms.
During the debate over ratiªcation, various Russian ministries, including the
Ministries of Economic Development and Trade, Foreign Affairs, Industry and
Energy, Natural Resources, and the Federal Service on Hydrometeorology and
Environment Monitoring (Rosgidromet), weighed in on the question of
whether to ratify the Kyoto Protocol. It appears that the Ministry of Energy
(which was merged into the Ministry of Industry and Energy in March 2004)
was in favor of ratiªcation throughout most of the process, seeing Kyoto’s joint
54 • Russia and the Kyoto Protocol
33. RIA Novosti, 12 October 2004; and transcript of interview with participants in the Social Forum
on Climate Change, Radio Svoboda, 6 September 2003.
34. Oleªrenko interview.
35. Authors’ interview with Stepan Dudarev, Head, National Carbon Union, Moscow, 8 July 2005.
36. Dudarev interview.
37. Authors’ interview with Oleg Pluzhnikov, Head, Division of Environmental Economics, Rus
sian Ministry of Economic Development and Trade, Moscow, 19 July 2005.
implementation mechanisms as a route to greater energy efªciency and mod
ernization of energy infrastructure. Yet one former bureaucrat from the Ministry
of Energy stated that opinion within the ministry had swung against ratiªcation
just prior to Putin’s decision to ratify.
The Ministry of Natural Resources was
reportedly most consistently concerned about constraints on the exploitation of
natural resources, and the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade cooled
toward ratiªcation in 2002 when it realized that bureaucratic authority to man
age the implementation mechanisms could go to the Ministry of Energy.
Rosgidromet, although subsumed under the Ministry of Natural Resources,
had led the Russian delegation to the negotiations over Kyoto and generally re
mained positively oriented towards ratiªcation, despite its insistence that more
funding is necessary for it to implement the attending obligations.
try of Economic Development and Trade insider recounts that at ªrst an active
debate occurred among ministries resulting in a rough balance of opinion;
then, however, Illarionov’s public statements led government ofªcials to fall si
lent or adopt a more negative position on the issue of Kyoto ratiªcation. Once
Putin announced his intention to ratify the protocol during the fall of 2004,
suddenly the ministries were almost unanimous in their support. In the post-
ratiªcation setting, it became difªcult to ªnd any ministry spokesperson who
would claim that his or her ministry had ever wavered on the question of
Two parliamentary committees within the lower house of parliament, the
State Duma, were responsible for the question of Kyoto ratiªcation—the foreign
affairs and ecology committees. Alexander Kosarikov, the deputy chairman of
the ecology committee, calls these two bodies the “initiators” of ratiªcation, al-
though he also acknowledges that some committee members feared that Kyoto
was part of an international strategy to place pressure on Russian industry.
Members reportedly also soured on ratiªcation following the United States’ re
fusal to ratify.
The Federation Council, the upper house of parliament, was not
a vocal participant in the debate over ratiªcation. For the most part, regional
governments did not play a signiªcant role in Kyoto ratiªcation, although in
June 2003 the state advisory council, composed of Russia’s regional governors,
formally supported ratiªcation.
A number of regional governments appear in
terested in using Kyoto mechanisms to attract investment.
Arkhangelsk established an inventory system for greenhouse gas emissions from
its energy sector in full compliance with IPCC requirements and is experiment
ing with emissions reduction projects.
Laura A. Henry and Lisa McIntosh Sundstrom • 55
38. Authors’ interview former senior bureaucrat from the Ministry of Energy, Moscow, 19 July 2005.
39. Karas 2004, 2–3; and Oleªrenko interview.
40. Karas 2004, 3.
41. Kosarikov interview.
42. Buchner and Dall’Olio 2005, 354.
43. “Putin Tells Government to Get Environmental Act Together,” Reuters, 4 June 2003.
44. Kotov and Nikitina 2003, 17.
45. Yulkin 2005, 10; and Pravda.ru, 16 February 2005.
Yet in Russia’s political system, these bureaucratic battles among minis
tries, parliamentary debates, and regional interests are less important than the
overwhelming power of the executive branch of government. In practice, Russia
is a super-presidential system, with ultimate decision-making power in the
hands of the executive, and increasingly so. For example, the Federation Coun
cil, the upper house of parliament, is now much more loyal to the president
than it had been in the past following a 2004 law under which regional gover
nors are appointed by the president rather than directly elected. Governors and
the heads of legislative assemblies also have lost their seats in the Federation
Council and they must instead appoint representatives, diluting their direct in
ºuence on federal policy-making. The party that supports the president, United
Russia, dominates the Duma and most regional legislative assemblies. Bills that
the president endorses now pass quickly and unchallenged through the upper
house as a rule, and with debate but little delay in the lower-house.
cording to the Constitution, Putin may not run for the presidency a third con
secutive term; as such, he has no fear of any electoral consequences from his de
cisions. Thus, although approval by the State Duma and Federation Council is
formally required, because of his institutional power, it was Vladimir Putin’s de-
cision alone that would determine the outcome of the ratiªcation debate. This
is an exceptionally powerful position compared to other heads of state of Annex
1 countries engaged in ratiªcation debates.
The Decision to Ratify
Throughout the debate over Kyoto, President Putin’s position on the issue was
ambiguous. The presidentially-appointed prime minister, Mikhail Kasyanov, de-
clared in a cabinet meeting in April 2002 that Russia should ratify Kyoto, and
then announced ofªcially at the Johannesburg World Summit on Sustainable
Development in September 2002 that Russia would indeed ratify.
At the 2003
World Conference on Climate Change, more than a year after Kasyanov’s an
nouncement, Putin argued that Russia should be “reluctant to make decisions
[about the Protocol] just on ªnancial considerations. We should be guided pri
marily by more noble ideas rather than the consideration of mundane, quick
Yet at the same meeting Putin joked that, under conditions
of global warming, “We’ll need to spend less money on fur coats and grain har
vests will increase,” though Putin also acknowledged the danger of increased
droughts and ºoods.
This ambiguity was disconcerting to protocol supporters
given President Putin’s high level of decision-making autonomy.
56 • Russia and the Kyoto Protocol
46. Corwin 2004.
47. ITAR-TASS News Agency, 11 April 2002; and RIA Novosti, 3 September 2002.
48. Environmental Defense 2003.
49. “Counter-attack on Greenhouse Gases,” Izvestiia Science, 3 October 2003, available at http://
www.inauka.ru/leskov/article36273.html, accessed 2 February 2006; and “Putin Refuses to Say
if Russia Will Ratify Kyoto Protocol,” The Independent (London), 30 September 2003.
Which aspects of the debate inºuenced President Putin? With authority
concentrated in the executive and loyalty highly prized within the presidential
administration, the details remain somewhat opaque. Yet, after a careful analy
sis of the debate and expert opinion, it seems clear that the decision, as well as
the delay, was primarily inºuenced by international incentives in other policy
areas and reputational concerns rather than anticipated beneªts from Kyoto it
Many potential material beneªts did weigh in favor of ratiªcation: the
possibility of selling carbon credits for proªt on the international market; the
modernization of industry that Russia could gain free-of-charge from interna
tional partners via Kyoto’s joint implementation and green investment mecha
nisms; and public health beneªts from reduced pollutants and particulate mat
ter from a refurbished industrial sector. It does not seem to be the case, however,
that the protocol’s economic beneªts were the primary factor behind the even
tual decision to ratify Kyoto.
Expected earnings from the sale of emissions
credits also plummeted with the US decision not to ratify Kyoto. In 2004, a
Cambridge Economic Policy Associates report argued that Russia’s potential in-
come from emissions trading is likely to range from US $150 million to $2 bil-
lion annually, much less than Russia had expected prior to US rejection of the
Viktor Danilov-Danilian, the former head of the State Committee on
Ecology and current head of the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Water
Problems, argued, “The money that could be earned thanks to the Kyoto Proto-
col through selling allowances and receiving investments in Joint Implementa-
tion projects is of no interest to the authorities.”
The economist Yuri Safonov
agrees that the economic beneªts of Kyoto appear small when weighed against
revenue from other sources, in particular from the petroleum sector. In fact,
Holtsmark has projected that if emissions permits command a high market
price, the prices of oil and gas (and Russia’s revenues from them) will likely de
crease as states use less carbon-based fuel.
Indeed, concerns about Russia’s international image and progress on
other foreign trade issues appear to have played the primary role in the decision
to ratify. While domestic attention may not have been focused on the question
of Kyoto ratiªcation, international actors took a keen interest in Russia’s deci
sion. The European Union was the most active international advocate of the
protocol and European leaders personally pressured Putin to ratify Kyoto. For
example, in September 2003, Jacques Chirac urged Putin to move forward on
the Kyoto Protocol and suggested that such a decision would lead to the “en
hanced legitimacy” of Russia-European partnerships.
nizations circumvented super-presidential politics inside Russia by promoting
Laura A. Henry and Lisa McIntosh Sundstrom • 57
50. Korppoo et al. 2004, 15.
51. Mirrlees-Black et al 2004, as cited in Korppoo et al. 2006
52. Danilov-Danilian 2004.
53. Holtsmark 2003, 410–11.
54. “Chirac Presses Putin to Ratify Kyoto,” Agence France Presse, 29 September 2003.
third party pressure on Putin. WWF-Russia used its contacts in European
WWF ofªces to encourage European environmentalists to push leaders includ
ing Schroeder and Chirac to press Putin on Kyoto’s ratiªcation, arguing that “if
you don’t ask Putin to carefully consider the Kyoto Protocol, as a friend, then he
soon may decide against ratiªcation.”
Kokorin stresses the importance of this
transnational networking and third party inºuence on Putin by concluding that
“it is simply the case that without WWF International we would never have been
able to achieve our goal.”
Safonov agrees that an important factor was “the in
ternational image of...Russia and Putin himself. . . European leaders—I would
say world leaders except Bush—always were talking about Kyoto and calling and
writing to Putin [asking] why we don’t ratify.”
Several observers who watched the debate closely argued that Putin was
using ratiªcation as a way to signal his unity with “the world community,” “Eu
ropean politics,” or “Western values.”
This view is supported by some state
ments of government ofªcials. Russian Minister of Economic Development and
Trade, German Gref, stated just prior to ratiªcation that the Kremlin viewed the
step mainly as a symbolic gesture to improve Russia’s international image.
only did the decision symbolize Russia’s cooperative stance as an international
partner, it more speciªcally signiªed a degree of strategic distancing from the
United States and a closer alliance with Europe. Thus, some delay in the ªnal
decision likely came from tensions in Russian foreign policy between these two
sets of alliances. Oleªrenko of Greenpeace argued that it is signiªcant that Putin
began to backpeddle on ratiªcation after meeting with US President Bush in
2003, noting that “Putin does not want to terminate these relations [with the
Duma deputy Kosarikov concludes that the main reason for ratiªcation
was “Putin’s desire not to lose contact, not to move away from a common Euro-
However, Russia’s concern with its international image was not merely a
selºess desire to develop its “European” identity. Had that concern dominated,
the president would have made his decision to ratify much earlier out of a basic
normative impulse. Instead Putin’s concerns about identity and image were re
inforced by the opportunity for a side payment for Kyoto ratiªcation, unrelated
to the protocol itself. This opportunity helps to explain why the government de
layed ratiªcation for two years beyond President Putin’s initial announcement
of his intention to ratify. During negotiations with the European Union, Russia
seems to have identiªed a concession clearly within its national interest that
tipped the scales in favor of Kyoto ratiªcation: the EU’s agreement to support
Russian membership in the World Trade Organization. While the linkage of
58 • Russia and the Kyoto Protocol
55. Kokorin interview.
56. Kokorin interview.
57. Safonov interview.
58. Zakharov interview; Kosarikov interview; and Dudarev interview.
59. Russia Journal, 5 October 2004.
60. Radio Svoboda, 6 September 2003.
61. Kosarikov interview.
these two issues was never formally acknowledged by either side, many observ
ers and Russian and Western media sources remarked on the simultaneity of the
Some Russian government ofªcials publicly linked the two
issues. In May 2004, Sergei Yastrzhembsky, Russia’s envoy to the EU, stated that
ratiªcation would depend on the condition that “We would like to see that our
interests are welcomed and satisªed in different spheres . . . for example, the
Putin himself denied that there was a formal bargain struck, but stated
that the WTO concession was helpful: “the EU’s willingness to accommodate
our interests during the negotiations will affect Russia’s attitude to the Kyoto
question in a positive way. We are going to speed up the pace of our prepara
tions leading to the country’s eventual ratiªcation of the protocol.”
Golub provides supporting evidence that the two issues were related, noting
that Environmental Defense acted as a go-between in the negotiations, suggest
ing to the European Commission that Russia might be willing to ratify the pro
tocol if the EU retracted its earlier insistence that Russia increase its domestic
natural gas prices to world market levels as a condition for WTO admission.
The nature of the debate over the potential costs of ratiªcation changed after the
May 2004 EU Summit linked the WTO and Kyoto as well. As Vladimir Kotov ar-
gues, “the economic beneªts for Russia from WTO entry exceed by several-fold
its potential losses from surpassing the Kyoto [emissions] targets.”
Some observers argued that Putin was largely in favor of ratiªcation all
along, but allowed the debate to continue in order to gain as many beneªts as
possible from other states that had ratiªed Kyoto, as well as to assure himself
that the anti-Kyoto forces were wrong in their cataclysmic predictions about
economic constraints imposed by the treaty. Aleksei Kokorin of WWF-Russia
reºects: “It’s not as if the man slept and then suddenly awoke. He simply acted
very slowly, without hurrying. Listening unfortunately to the voices of Kyoto’s
opponents. Wanting to assure himself that what they were saying was not
It is clear that Russia’s ultimate decision to ratify the Kyoto Protocol was
not due to an ideational commitment to resolving the problem of climate
change or sustainable development more broadly, nor did the government ap
pear tempted by the potential economic beneªts of the agreement itself. Instead
ratiªcation was based on a more instrumental view of the protocol as a means
of realizing other desirable goals at the international level, while simultane
ously enhancing Russia’s image on the international stage.
As such, Russia behaved internationally as neoliberal institutionalists
would expect, trying to maximize its gains across multiple foreign policy issues
Laura A. Henry and Lisa McIntosh Sundstrom • 59
62. Christian Science Monitor, 5 December 2003; BBC online, 30 September 2004; Pravda.ru, 30 Sep
tember 2004, 9 February 2005; and Business Week, 1 October 2004.
63. “Kyoto, WTO Deal Hangs in Balance,” Moscow Times, 20 May 2004.
64. “Russia Traded WTO for Kyoto,” Izvestiia, 21 May 2004.
65. Authors’ interview with Alexander Golub, Senior Economist, Environmental Defense, Washing
ton, DC, 2 September 2005.
66. Kotov 2004, 165.
67. Kokorin interview.
while strengthening its long-term reputation with European states as a reliable
negotiating partner. At the domestic level, an institutional approach also ex
plains the outcome best. Whereas economic, bureaucratic, and NGO voices
were fairly closely balanced for and against Kyoto, the institutional framework
in which the president was virtually free from public scrutiny and free of party
afªliation meant that he was not constrained by those interests. President Putin
could delay, articulate inconsistent policy positions, and make a ªnal decision
based on international concerns due to his high degree of decision-making au
The Russian government’s motivation for ratifying the Kyoto Protocol has left
open a number of questions about the country’s implementation strategy. Will
Russia merely comply with the protocol’s minimal requirements, which in Rus
sia’s case do not require emission reductions before 2012? Alternatively, will
Russia maximize reductions of greenhouse gas emissions or focus on raising
government revenues as much as possible through Kyoto mechanisms?
An institutions-focused approach suggests that Russia will barely comply,
since its powerful executive, coupled with bureaucratic disorganization, means
that after a decision has been taken single-handedly by the president, there is lit-
tle momentum within the bureaucracy to develop serious systems of implemen-
tation. An interest-based approach predicts that, having ratiªed largely for the
sake of side payments, Russia will attempt to maximize the amount of material
gain it can glean from Kyoto ºexible mechanisms. In this scenario, efforts to re-
duce greenhouse gas emissions will only endure as long as funds from other An-
nex I countries continue to ºow into Russia. Finally, an ideas-based approach
suggests that there will be signiªcant effort by the Russian government to maxi
mize its emissions reductions in the spirit of Kyoto to retain its identity as a co
operative partner with Europe. This would involve policies like a carbon tax, a
domestic cap and trade system, and ªnes for enterprises that exceed legislated
emissions quotas. Evidence thus far suggests that Russia will act according to a
combination of the ªrst two approaches and not the third. The current National
Action Plan for Kyoto implementation, developed in early 2005, fails to make
Russia’s overall intentions clear. Safonov argues that the plan is an important
ªrst step, but fails to explain what Russia’s overall strategy is. “Do we want to es
tablish an emissions trading scheme, cap and trade system, or just focus on in
vestment projects? ...Wedon’t know what we want to do and that is the prob
According to M.A. Yulkin of the Environmental Investment Centre, the
plan includes only those government initiatives that existed prior to ratiªcation
of Kyoto, and they “cannot be taken seriously” since they do not include con
crete emissions reduction targets.
60 • Russia and the Kyoto Protocol
68. Safonov interview.
69. Yulkin 2005, 11.
At the most basic level, Russia needs to do very little in order to comply
with the Kyoto Protocol and could in fact choose “compliance without imple
Requirements include improving upon the existing national
emissions inventory (cadastre) and establishing a national registry in order to
track emissions credit balances and transfers. Russia also needs to improve its
reporting to the UNFCCC since it submitted incomplete summary greenhouse
gas emissions inventories in its national communications reports between 1995
and 2007, and only submitted its ªrst full emissions inventory in early 2007—
the last of all Annex 1 countries to do so.
Russia’s path forward on Kyoto implementation may be assisted by the fact that
there is no longer an active opposition to the protocol’s implementation. How
ever, as Oleªrenko of Greenpeace notes, stagnation has now set in: “If earlier the
picture looked like a waterfall, a fountain, and everything was bubbling, then
now it’s a swamp and there is no movement....”
Russian observers in both
the government and the NGO community generally agree that implementation
has proceeded very slowly. This lethargy is variously attributed to the ministries’
lack of resources, laziness, or incompetence, but also reºects the mixed signals
that state ofªcials received during the ratiªcation debate. Ofªcials who work in-
side the ministries point out that implementation is a complex process and they
are moving forward as quickly as can be expected, a point that is more credible
given Russia’s lack of detailed planning for implementation.
The February 2005 National Plan of Action on Kyoto Implementation dis-
tributes responsibilities across ministries and creates an interdepartmental com-
mission tasked with creating the legal infrastructure to implement the proto
The Commission is headed by the Ministry of Economic Development
and Trade. RAO UES and Gazprom are also part of this commission, the former
an electricity company accounting for one third of Russia’s carbon dioxide emis
sions and the latter the world’s largest gas-producing company.
The plan pro
vides only a vague sense of which ministries and agencies will be responsible for
which implementation tasks, with multiple ministries often assigned a single
Yet in late 2006 and 2007, consolidation of these responsibilities as well
as progress on implementation sped up dramatically. The Ministry of Economic
Development and Trade obtained responsibility for registering joint implemen
tation agreements. Rosgidromet is responsible for monitoring carbon emis
sions, although such a system has not been developed yet. The government for
Laura A. Henry and Lisa McIntosh Sundstrom • 61
70. Kotov and Nikitina 2003, 9.
71. Korppoo 2004; and Webster 2002.
72. Oleªrenko interview.
73. Yamin and Depledge 2004, 148–156.
74. Authors’ interview with Aleksandr Ishkov, Director, State Environmental Policy Department,
Ministry of Natural Resources, Moscow, 18 July 2005.
75. MERT 2005.
estry management agency, Rosleskhoz, is responsible for monitoring forest
sinks. The Ministry of Industry and Energy is responsible for decreasing emis
sions from the energy sector.
As a result of the uncertainty that preceded ratiªcation and the consequent lack
of attention to Kyoto implementation, basic questions related to the interests of
various domestic actors have not been decided. For example, the fundamental
question of property rights is unresolved: do emissions credits belong to the
federal government, regional governments, or to enterprises? Kosarikov ques
tions, “Will the central government have all control over implementation, or
will the regions be responsible for developing and implementing their own
plans, with overall central government oversight?”
Zakharov believes that re
gional governors and businesses are very interested in opportunities presented
by Kyoto, “but without the necessary legislation nothing can be realized. . . That
is, it is possible to prepare projects, but it’s impossible to start them while there
is no conªrmation by the legislature.”
Lurking behind these legal debates is a
concern shared by many that Kyoto implementation will provide an opportu-
nity for government corruption. For example, Dudarev of the National Carbon
Union argues that an absence of clear legislation would be “an excuse for abuse,
because no one knows the procedure according to which deals must be made,
and that means it will be the personal decision of each bureaucrat to determine
how it should be done.”
Pluzhnikov of the Ministry of Economic Develop-
ment and Trade disagrees, arguing that a transparent process can be designed
that will make corruption unlikely.
In spite of environmentalists’ pressure for Russia to maximally reduce
greenhouse gas emissions, Russia’s implementation of Kyoto is likely to focus
much more on the strategy of maximizing revenue. Many business and govern
ment actors, the strongest interest groups in Russia, emphasize Russia’s oppor
tunity to proªt from the JI mechanism, as well as from credits for improved for
est management practices. Optimism about carbon emissions trading decreased
as the market effectively shrank following the US choice not to ratify, removing
the largest potential buyer of credits. Yet by many accounts Japan, Canada, and
even European states are willing to purchase credits that are the result of docu
mented, contemporary emissions reductions, although they will not purchase
Russia’s “hot air,” or credits that are an artifact of industrial collapse.
delay in developing necessary legislation and monitoring systems may already
be limiting its potential for proªting from international emissions trading and
62 • Russia and the Kyoto Protocol
76. Kosarikov interview.
77. Zakharov interview.
78. Dudarev interview.
79. Pluzhnikov interview.
80. Golub et al 2004, 29; and Lecocq and Shalizi 2004, 17–18.
other ºexible mechanisms under the protocol, however. For example, a 2003
Climate Policy article ranked Russia third out of the thirteen Eastern European
states in terms of its scope for JI projects, but tenth in terms of its institutional
capacity for participating in JI projects.
Government ofªcials from Japan, a rat
ifying state likely to need signiªcant emissions credit purchases, have expressed
concern about Russia’s poor progress in developing an emissions accounting
system and voiced a preference for purchasing credits from Ukraine, which has
implemented better accounting systems.
Both scientists and bureaucrats pointed out in interviews that the joint im
plementation mechanism could be very proªtable for Russia since it allows a
double gain: improving industrial efªciency to help long-term economic
growth, paid for by the direct investments of other state parties to the protocol.
Several of Russia’s largest ªrms are prepared to take advantage of JI projects. For
example, during the summer of 2005 in one of the ªrst JI agreements, United
Energy Systems signed a memorandum of understanding with the Danish gov
ernment to upgrade technology at two power plants, with an estimated 20 mil
lion Euros in investment and a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of 1.2
million tons to be purchased by DanishCarbon.
The implementation of JI
projects has been constrained by the lack of a legal framework. However, on
May 28, 2007 Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov signed a government decree enu-
merating the requirements for the approval of JI projects.
in Kyoto ºexible mechanisms also requires that Russia also submit its initial re-
port to the UNFCCC detailing its remaining emissions allowable for the 2008–
2012 period, and complete its carbon registry and integrate it with the UN’s in-
ternational transaction log. While it completed the ªrst task in February 2007,
work on the second task was only expected to begin in summer 2007.
Russia has not yet met the eligibility requirements for approving JI projects on
its own, proposed projects must follow Track-2 JI procedures, in which approval
is given by the UN JI Supervisory Committee rather than domestic agencies. As
of September 2007, 38 project design documents for JI projects in Russia had
been ofªcially submitted to the UN JISC.
Another area of uncertainty regarding the future use of ºexible mecha
nisms is the ownership structure of the oil and gas sector in Russia. Over the
past several years, the state has re-nationalized oil and gas sector assets by pur
chasing or prosecuting private companies, so that now over one-third of Russian
oil production is state-owned.
It is unclear whether the state or private owners
will be keener to take advantage of JI mechanisms. The government has been
Laura A. Henry and Lisa McIntosh Sundstrom • 63
81. Fankhauser and Lavric 2003, 429.
82. Financial Times (Asia Edition), 28 June 2006, 3.
83. DanishCarbon press release, available at http://www.mst.dk/transportuk/01070100.htm.
84. Resolution of the of the Russian Federation Government from 28 May 2007, No. 332.
85. PointCarbon.com, CDM & JI Monitor, 21 February 2007, 6; and Government of Russia 2007.
86. UNFCCC JISC, available at http://ji.unfccc.int/JI_Projects/Veriªcation/PDD.
87. Baev 2005.
slow to begin implementation tasks, but, if government ownership of the sector
is vast, then it stands to beneªt immensely from the efªciency gains that could
come from JI projects.
Green investment schemes (GIS) may lead to greater overall reduction in
emissions levels by directing investment to the modernization of infrastructure,
yet may be less proªtable for private sector actors. Such schemes would increase
the marketability of Russia’s “hot air” emissions credits by assuring buyers in
other Annex I states that proªts would be directed toward projects in Russia that
generate real emissions reductions and are subject to external veriªcation.
Helmut Schreiber of the World Bank argues that GIS has several advantages over
a JI project-based approach because the approval process for JI projects is likely
to be “very cumbersome.” GIS also could focus on broader infrastructural prob
lems related to energy efªciency, such as the industry-wide practice of gas ºaring
and leakage from Russia’s domestic pipeline system, which would be beyond
the scope of any single JI project.
Safonov also notes that residential heating
and public transport systems provide scope for emissions reduction through
Russia does not appear to be preparing other measures that could facilitate
greenhouse gas emission reductions, such as a domestic emissions trading sys-
tem, a carbon tax, or investment in alternative energy sources. An effective inter-
nal trading scheme would require a more detailed national inventory of emis-
sions, tracking emissions not just at the national level, but by ªrm, and the
technology to monitor changes in emissions levels. The National Carbon Union
advocates a domestic emissions trading system, arguing that a functioning do-
mestic market would facilitate Russian participation in the European Emissions
A carbon tax is an unlikely measure due to the fact that Russia
currently sells natural gas domestically at prices below that of the world market.
A tax would likely prompt domestic discontent and discourage consumption in
a highly energy intensive economy focused on growth. Finally, investment in al
ternative sources of energy appears negligible; wind and solar energy would
likely ªnd it difªcult to compete in a market in which carbon-based fuels are
Russia’s shallow ideational commitment to the environment generally and cli
mate change prevention speciªcally, as revealed by the ratiªcation debate, may
affect the implementation of the protocol. While ratiªcation appeared to be
64 • Russia and the Kyoto Protocol
88. Tangen et al. 2002.
89. Authors’ interview with Helmut Schreiber, Lead Environmental Economist, World Bank, Mos
cow ofªce, 15 July 2005.
90. Safonov interview.
91. National Carbon Union Analytical Materials, available at http://www.natcarbon.ru/en/analyti
driven primarily by international pressure and side payments, implementation
is a process that occurs largely outside the public spotlight and, at least in the
short term, does little to affect Russia’s international image. Nongovernmental
organizations have realized that they still need to explain to the general public
and government ofªcials alike why Kyoto is worthwhile. Since ratiªcation,
WWF-Russia has begun a public education campaign. Zakharov of CREP sug
gests that an expert scientiªc council should participate in the interdepartmen
tal commission. Other supporters have suggested that NGOs form a “Kyoto
Watch” program that monitors progress or lack thereof in implementation.
Whether the Kyoto Protocol will actually serve to limit Russia’s green
house gas emissions depends on how the agreement is implemented, but Rus
sian supporters of Kyoto hope that the protocol will serve as a catalyst—encour
aging Russian industry to modernize and achieve greater energy efªciency.
Safonov asserts that Kyoto could resolve a number of economic, social, and en
vironmental problems simultaneously. For example, by reducing coal use in or
der to lower carbon dioxide emissions, Russia would also reduce sulfur and par
ticulate emissions, which should have a positive impact on public health.
Pluzhnikov of the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade sees a beneªt
in what he terms the “Kyoto psychology,” which directs Russia’s attention to a
series of important economic and environmental tasks.
Ishkov of the Ministry
of Natural Resources argues that Kyoto will help to modernize Russia’s industry
and energy sectors, while providing an economic mechanism for solving Rus-
sia’s ecological problems, including forest management, “that are not tied
purely to climate change—that is, without entering into the discussion of
whether or not greenhouse gases cause such changes.”
Indeed, the protocol
may indirectly serve to strengthen Russia’s weak environmental protection bod-
Russia’s decision to ratify the protocol was not primarily driven by a sense of ur
gency about climate change prevention, either at the elite or mass level, but by
its ability to achieve other desirable beneªts from international partners and
concern for its international image. The Russian president thus mostly acted to
further Russia’s material and reputational interests at the international level,
taking into account multiple foreign policy objectives, as neoliberal institution
alists would predict. Russia’s centralized political institutional context made it
possible for the president to decide to ratify based on these international inter
ests. However, this same decision-making context, which did not require “buy-
in” from a wide range of actors involved in carbon emissions, may stall domes
Laura A. Henry and Lisa McIntosh Sundstrom • 65
92. Safonov interview.
93. Pluzhnikov interview.
94. Ishkov interview.
tic implementation of the protocol. These factors create uncertainty surround
ing Russia’s implementation and plans for the post-2012 Kyoto process.
Russia’s failure to participate or its purely symbolic participation in the
Kyoto Protocol could be detrimental in two ways. First, those states that need to
purchase carbon credits and invest in Russia through JI projects in order to meet
their own binding targets will be in a difªcult position if Russia fails to develop
the necessary internal systems. Second, if Russia does not comply in a serious
fashion it sets a worrisome precedent for the future participation of other large
states attempting to develop their economies, including China, India, and
On the positive side, if Russia invests time and resources in implementing
the Kyoto Protocol, it will have a greater interest in the continuation of the sys
tem. There are clear beneªts, material and ideational, to Russia’s new role as a
Kyoto ratiªer, not least the continued importance of Russia for the protocol’s
success. Survey data suggest that, as in many countries, the public in Russia is
rapidly becoming much more concerned about the problem of climate change.
A GlobeScan survey in 2005—after ratiªcation—found that 59 percent of Rus-
sians considered it a “very serious” problem, up from 43 percent in 2003.
Aleksandr Bedritsky, the head of Rosgidromet, argues that the next step is to in-
crease the general understanding of “Russia’s role as one of the leading interna-
tional nature donors through its global repository of forests absorbing green-
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