President of the Republic of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko signed Decree No 370 On the Accession of the Republic of Belarus to the Kyoto Protocol of the United Nations′ Convention on Climate Change. Belarus is the 154th state to ratify the agreement. In 1997, representatives of 38 industrialised countries signed the Kyoto protocol as part of the UN convention on climate change. In accordance with the protocol, by 2012 member countries will have reduced their emission of greenhouse gases by 5.3 percent (comparing to 1990). Each country has a quota for the volume of such gases they are permitted to emit into the natural environment. Spare quota volumes may be "sold" to other countries who believe themselves likely to exceed their own quota; this should encourage a reduction in the volume of emissions as countries can profit from the sale.
Joining the Kyoto Protocol is very advantageous to Belarus. Not only can we confront climate change but we can benefit financially. We have undertaken to maintain our emission volumes at 1990 levels (the highest registered level was 112m tonnes) yet, at present, our emissions are just half this amount — 57m tonnes. We can now sell the difference to other countries; this may amount to anything from $325m to $1,750bn per year. "We are in a very advantageous position in joining the Kyoto Protocol. We mustn′t lose this opportunity," said Alexander Apatsky, Deputy Minister of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection. He reminded those present that Belarus needed to sign the protocol by the 15th August, i.e. within 180 days of the document coming into effect on February 16th. "Otherwise, according to the rules, ratification will be postponed for a minimum of one year. The President′s decree on joining the Kyoto Protocol is not just important economically but politically. By selling some of our quota, we′ll be able to attract resources to develop new technology and modernise our enterprises to meet latest ecological standards."