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The Kyoto Protocol on climate change hangs on one thing: ratification by at least 55 countries whose emissions of greenhouse gases total more than 55 per cent of the 1990 global output. With the United States refusing to sign, the spotlight is on Russia. But Moscow has its own hardliners against the treaty.

In this article, Paul Webster says UN forecasts suggested Russia could sell billions of dollars' worth of emissions credits — a crucial Kyoto 'sweetener'. But Russian officials challenged this, and now the United Nations itself has backed their view.

For Russia's hardliners, the boom cancels out any involvement in the protocol. The country will be unable to profit from emissions credits, and the Kyoto targets are viewed as unaffordable, given the rate of economic growth. All in all, it could add up to the treaty's death knell.

Link to full article in Science 

Reference: Science 303, 1461 (2004)