Putin Advisor Calls Kyoto Protocol a Death Treaty

ST. PETERSBURG, Russia, April 16, 2004 (ENS) - The Kyoto Protocol will impose such strong economic constraints that it will be like an "international Auschwitz" for countries that ratify it, a top aide to Russian president Vladimir Putin has declared.

Economic advisor Andrei Illarionov is a well known opponent of the protocol within the Russian administration, but his previous criticism pales in comparison with the latest remarks.

Kyoto is a "death treaty" that will "stifle economic growth" and bring "many negative implications" because it will limit Russian carbon emission growth, Illarionov said in comments reported by news agency Interfax on Wednesday.

The Kyoto Protocol is "one of the finest examples of intervening at the level of interstate regulation," Illarionov told reporters in St. Petersburg.

The global agreement was worse than the Gosplan Committee responsible for the famous Communist five year plans, he said.


Andrei Illarionov is economic advisor to Russian President Vladimir Putin. (Photo courtesy Center for International Private Enterprise)
Even Stalinist era prison camps had better conditions, said Illarionov. "In a gulag, people were at least given the same rations... from one day to the next, but the Kyoto Protocol proposes decreasing rations day by day."

Russia is key to the future of the protocol and the comments reflect intensifying internal debate as a consultation over Kyoto ratification gathers pace following presidential elections.

Illarionov has already made his official submission to the government and the Russian Foreign Ministry is due to do the same next month.

"This isn't the first time Illarionov has been negative about Kyoto," Ewa Hedlund, spokesperson for EU Environment Commissioner Margot Wallstrom said on Thursday. "It's just stronger language because the debate is heating up."

European Commission President Romano Prodi will meet the new Russian government next week and is expected to raise the Kyoto issue, she said.

Rob Bradley of campaign group Can Europe said Illarionov was "utterly deranged." "Not only is he offensive and inflammatory, but he's millions of miles wide of the mark."

power plant

Co-generating plant on the edge of Moscow produces power and hot water for heating. (Photo credit unknown)
"There's no way Kyoto will constrain Russian emissions," Bradley said. "Its greenhouse gas releases are not forecast to reach 1990 Kyoto baseline levels for at least another 20 years." Commitments to greenhouse gas limitations under the protocol as currently negotiated run until 2012.

The Kyoto Protocol has not yet become legally binding, and it cannot take effect without Russia because it needs countries to ratify that account for 55 percent of developed nations' emissions of carbon dioxide in 1990, the baseline year.

The protocol has to date reached 44.2 percent. Russia accounts for 17.4 percent and is crucial for the treaty's entry into force because the world's biggest polluter, the United States, pulled out its 36 percent in 2001 shortly after President George W. Bush took office.

In a separate development, the European Environment Agency (EEA) issued on Tuesday a technical report exploring how implementing the Kyoto Protocol could help cut various types of air pollution in Europe.

It concludes that a reduction in sulfur dioxide emissions responsible for acid rain would be the most significant side benefit of cutting carbon dioxide emissions, especially in Eastern Europe.


{Published in cooperation with ENDS Environment Daily, Europe's choice for environmental news. Environmental Data Services Ltd, London. Email: envdaily@ends.co.uk}