Russian President Vladimir Putin backed away on Monday from Russia's earlier pledge to swiftly ratify a key UN pact on curbing global warming -- a plan that will collapse without its backing. \nDelegates at a World Climate Change Conference said it was too early to talk of the possible death of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol despite Moscow's long indecision. \nPutin even joked that a warmer climate might save Russians money on fur coats. \nPressure mounted on Putin to push through the pact with French President Jacques Chirac saying future relations between the EU and the Russian Federation depended on it. Putin told 940 delegates at the start of the five-day talks, to which UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan sent a message urging a Russian "Yes," that Moscow was "closely studying and examining this question" of Kyoto. \n"This is part of a complex of difficult and unclear problems. A decision will be taken when this work is finished," Putin said, giving no timetables. Under the pact's terms, Kyoto can only enter into force if Russia ratifies. \nRussian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov said at the Earth Summit a year ago in Johannesburg that Moscow's parliament was expected to ratify the Kyoto Protocol in the "very near future." Russian officials have attached strings in recent weeks, including guarantees of economic benefits. \nKyoto seeks to rein in emissions of gases like carbon dioxide from fossil fuels burnt in factories and cars that are blamed for blanketing the planet and driving up temperatures, raising sea levels and causing heatwaves, floods, droughts and tornadoes. \nRussia will have no problem reaching emissions goals because of the collapse of its Soviet-era heavy industry. But a US pullout from Kyoto in 2001 has undermined what might have been an US$8.0 billion annual market for Russia, selling surplus emissions quotas abroad. \nRussia is the world's No. 2 oil exporter behind Saudi Arabia. Oil prices could be hit by any shift towards renewable energies like solar or wind power. Kyoto has strong backing from the EU, Russia's main trading partner. \nAnnan, in a message to the conference, called Kyoto a "vital first step in tackling global challenges of global warming" and said that "our children and grandchildren" would not understand inaction now. \n"I join people throughout the world in eagerly awaiting ratification by the Russian Federation, which will bring the protocol into force and further galvanize global action," he said. \nIn a letter to Putin, Chirac said the pact "would underline Russia's determination to accept all the responsibilities of a large modern country towards future genera-tions." It would give the partnership between the Russian Federation and the EU "greater legitimacy" in the fields of energy and environmental protection, he added. \n"I therefore see in it an essential element to the constitution of the common economic area we decided to create in St Petersburg," Chirac said, referring to plans for a common European economic space. \nJoke Waller-Hunter, executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change which oversees Kyoto, told Putin she had hoped Russia would set a date for ratification. \nAfter criticisms of foot-dragging, Putin told delegates in unprepared remarks: "People say we are a northern country and a temperature 2 to 3 degrees warmer would not be scary, maybe it would be good. \n"You would have to spend less money on fur coats and other warm things," he said, adding that farm output would rise. \nBut he also said that Russia realized that climate change would cause damage from droughts to floods around the world. Moscow's overall decision would take account of "social, economic and ecological" disruptions, he said. \nKyoto aims to cut the emissions of greenhouse gases by developed nations by 5.2 percent below 1990 levels by 2008 to 2012 and will only take force after states accounting for 55 percent of emissions, mainly carbon dioxide, have ratified the pact. \nSo far, nations representing 44 percent of emissions have ratified but Moscow's 17 percent gives it a veto. The US had a 36 percent share but pulled out, arguing Kyoto was too costly and wrongly excluded developing nations.
OFF BORDER ISLAND: The fisheries official disappeared from a patrol vessel wearing a life jacket and leaving behind his shoes, indicating an intentional move, Seoul said North Korean soldiers shot dead a suspected South Korean defector at sea and burned his body as a COVID-19 precaution after he was interrogated in the water over several hours, Seoul military officials said yesterday. It is the first killing of a South Korean citizen by North Korean forces for a decade, and comes with Pyongyang at high alert over the COVID-19 pandemic and inter-Korean relations at a standstill. The fisheries official disappeared from a patrol vessel near the western border island of Yeonpyeong on Monday, the official said. More than 24 hours later, North Korean forces located him in their waters and
ACADEMIC FREEDOM: One professor told her students to submit anonymized papers and not to record any online classes. Some US schools have announced similar steps Students at Oxford University specializing in the study of China are being asked to submit some papers anonymously to protect them from the possibility of retribution under the sweeping new security law introduced three months ago in Hong Kong. The anonymity ruling is to be applied in classes, and group tutorials are to be replaced by one-to-ones. Students are also to be warned that it will be viewed as a disciplinary offence if they tape classes or share them with outside groups. The Hong Kong National Security Law was imposed on June 30 by Beijing after more than a year of pro-democracy
Japan’s government yesterday urged people to seek help if they were struggling to cope, following Sunday’s death of the popular actress and Miss Sherlock star Yuko Takeuchi, 40. News of her death shocked the nation and follows other recent cases of Japanese celebrities taking their lives, with figures showing a recent rise in suicides. Takeuchi was a household name in Japan and had given birth to her second child in January. Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato did not mention a particular case, but said that some people were struggling to cope during the COVID-19 pandemic. “There has been an uptick in the number
China on Thursday lashed out at the US at a high-level UN meeting over its criticism on the COVID-19 pandemic, with its envoy declaring, “Enough is enough.” Two days after US President Donald Trump used his annual address to the General Assembly to attack China’s record, US Ambassador to the UN Kelly Craft, also took an outraged tone — after which her Chinese counterpart showed palpable anger. “I must say, enough is enough. You have created enough troubles for the world already,” Chinese Ambassador to the UN Zhang Jun (張軍) told a Security Council meeting on global governance attended through videoconference