The Russian Cabinet on Thursday approved the ratification of the Kyoto Protocol on combating global warming, clearing the way for parliament's vote on the pact, which needs Russia's support to take effect, the Interfax news agency reported.
The Cabinet has to submit a draft bill on ratification of the protocol to the State Duma, the lower parliament house. The Duma is dominated by the Kremlin-directed United Russia party and approves nearly all bills backed by President Vladimir Putin.
Putin in May pledged to speed up approval in return for European Union support of Russia's bid to join the World Trade Organization.
"It's a political decision, it's a forced decision" to ratify Kyoto, Putin's economic adviser Andrei Illarionov, who led Russian opponents of Kyoto, said at the Cabinet session according to Interfax. "It's not the decision we are making with pleasure."
The EU has long urged Russia to ratify the pact, which must be approved by no fewer than 55 countries that accounted for at least 55 percent of global emissions in 1990. That minimum now can be reached only with Russia on board because the United States, China and some other big industrial nations have rejected the treaty.
The Kyoto protocol seeks to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, which are widely seen as a key factor behind global warming.
Illarionov and other Russian foes of the Kyoto protocol have argued that joining the pact would stymie Russia's economic growth and make Putin's goal of doubling gross domestic product in a decade unreachable.
Some observers have speculated that Russia was jockeying for more favorable terms when rules are worked out for a mechanism under which countries that come in with emissions levels below the targets can sell credits to nations that still need to reduce.