Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a bill confirming Russia's ratification of the Kyoto Protocol, the Kremlin said yesterday, giving the final stamp of approval to the global climate pact that will come into force early next year.
Both houses of parliament ratified the protocol last month, which aims to stem global warming by reducing greenhouse-gas emissions.
Putin signed the bill on Thursday, the Kremlin said.
Without Russia's support, the pact -- which has been rejected by the US and Australia -- could not have come into effect.
It needed endorsement by at least 55 industrialized nations accounting for at least 55 percent of global greenhouse-gas emissions in 1990.
The US alone accounted for 36 percent of carbon-dioxide emissions in 1990, while Russia accounted for 17 percent.
After years of hesitation, Putin pledged in May to speed up approval in return for EU support for Russia's bid to join the WTO. The 1997 pact would take effect 90 days after Russia notified the UN of its ratification.
The pact's approval followed fierce debate among Russian officials. Opponents, led by Putin's economic adviser Andrei Illari-onov, warned that it would stymie the nation's economic growth.
Kyoto backers, however, rejected the claim, saying that even after a five-year recovery, the post-Soviet economic meltdown has left emissions some 30 percent below the baseline.
Some Russian officials have voiced hope that the treaty's provisions allowing countries to trade greenhouse-gas emission allowances would enable Moscow to attract foreign investment for its crumbling industries.
Under the treaty, Russia can sell unused emissions credits to countries that exceed their limits.
Once the deal takes effect, industrialized countries will have until 2012 to cut their collective emissions of six key greenhouse gases to 5.2 percent below the 1990 level.
Greenhouse gases are believed to trap heat in the atmosphere, warming the Earth.
The next round of international climate talks is scheduled for next month in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and negotiations on curbing emissions after 2012 are due to start next year.
Russia's parliament has said that Moscow's decision on post-2012 emission cuts would be contingent on the outcome of those talks.