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22 October 2004 -- Russia's State Duma ratified the Kyoto Protocol today, clearing the way for the accord on fighting global warming to come into force worldwide.
The 126-country accord had hinged on Russia's approval after the United States pulled out of the pact in 2001.
"For this [Kyoto] protocol to come into force, it must be ratified by countries accounting for at least 55 percent of emissions of greenhouse gases. Russia accounts for 17 percent, as calculated by scientists. So far the protocol has been joined by countries producing 46 percent [of greenhouse gases], so Russia's affiliation to the Kyoto Protocal will help it come into force," Duma Speaker Boris Gryzlov said in Moscow after parliament's lower house voted 334-73 to ratify the treaty, which gives countries eight years to cut greenhouse gases to below 1990 levels.
The UN's top environment official, Klaus Toepfer, called the Russian vote an "important step" in the fight against climate change.
In Brussels, European Commission President Romano Prodi welcomed the Duma move and said the EU now hopes the United States will reconsider its position on the treaty.
However, U.S. State Department spokesman Adam Ereli said Washington has "no intention of signing or ratifying" the protocol.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and parliament's upper house must still sign off on the treaty, but their approval is considered a formality.