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Canada ratified the Kyoto Protocol on climate change this week, edging the agreement to the brink of implementation. It now remains only for Russia to ratify to bring the agreement into effect, although this could still remain up to a year away.

Under the terms of the protocol, at least 55 countries that were together responsible for 55 per cent of the industrialised world's carbon dioxide emissions in 1990 must ratify the agreement before it comes into force.

Although environmental groups hailed the Canadian decision, the country’s energy industry has condemned it, arguing that Canadian companies would be unable to compete with companies in the United States, which opposes the protocol.

Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov said in September that his country planned to ratify the agreement "in the very near future". But in November, foreign minister Nikolai Pomoshnikov said that Russia could take up to a year to make a final decision.

Click here to see a list of those countries that have ratified the Kyoto Protocol

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