Thursday, February 17, 2005

Russian press on the start of Kyoto

So, the day has come - on February 16, 2004 the Kyoto protocol kicked off. Russia's last minute hopping on the Kyoto bandwagon was instrumental and some Canadian newspapers (I mean National Post hehe) that were too quick to declare Kyoto dead have been proven wrong.

Environmental issues and Kyoto in particular are not the hottest item on Russians' minds to say the least. In country that's being swamped with public outcry over so called 'transport benefits' that are wroth about 20 USD, it is hard to argue that green house gas emmission is THE problem.
But Russian respected daily Izvestia did respond to the call: it's published two articles on Kyoto in its February 16 issue. Toeing to the Western standard of objectivity one was against and one was for (somewhat) it.

Discourse is a postmodernist invention and I stil have trouble saying it out freely but it's a great way to describe how differnt is the issue framing in Russia as compared to say, Canada.
In the West, the Kyoto madness is primerily a moral one and fueled by guilt - over unprecedented economic wealth harming our planet, over thawing artic ice and polar bears losing their habitat. An evil SUV owner emmitting greenhouse gas just because he/she likes to drive that behemot is an unlikely target.

Not so in Russia. It's not that Piotr Obraztsov, the author of the 'contra' article, doesn't believe in the greenhouse effect citing Robert W. Wood's experiment.
He believes that Kyoto is
"a global consipary of politicians and scientists that lost military contracts after the end of the perestroika"

His opponent, a prominent sceintist, Georgiy Adamov, doesn't really argue that Kyoto is good for the planet. Instead, he insists that "such conversations [about validity of science behind Kyoto] take away from discussing whether the protocol is good for Russia's economic interests". He does, however, come up with his own methaphor. It turns out that Kyoto could be compared to attempts to save the planet if a big asteroid is coming our way. In this case a couple of nuclear missiles sent its way to prevent a global disaster are wholly justifiable.
Evidently, Mr. Adamov had just watched the Day After Tomorrow AND the Star Wars :-)

So, what's the point of all this? Russia has joined Kyoto hoping to get serious and tangible economic preferences. In particular, it's been reported that it was promised Russia's entry into the WTO would be smoothed up. She will pull out immediately once Putin and his advisers decide that it's no longer in Russia's economic interests. But if those preferences are indeed be given, western taxpayers are gonna have to pay a heavy price for it. Next time, when you look at your tax receipt wondering where your taxes might be going to, you'll know the answer - to support Russia's economy.


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