Opening Address at the International Conference on Climate Change 2003-09-29 00:01:53 Moscow President Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. Professor Israel just said that the initiative for today’s meeting came from your humble servant at a meeting of the G-8. In fact, it was his initiative and the initiative of our Russian specialists, which they asked me to bring up at the G-8 meeting. So I can easily pass this ball to our Russian specialists. I will say some more about this. Nevertheless, I am very happy to welcome you to Moscow, and I congratulate you all on the opening of the conference. Your forum unites scientists, entrepreneurs, representatives of conservation departments and social organizations from many countries from around the world. I believe that this is a good opportunity to discuss the problem of global changes to the climate in detail. This is why we so actively supported the initiative of the Russian community, of Russian scientists to hold today’s meetings. This problem, the problem of climate changes, has for a long time had not only scientific significance, but also serious practical significance. In this connection, it is important for modern science to determine the degree of real danger of global climate change. Scientists should also help to find an answer to another fundamental question. And this is what the limits are to man’s impact on the climate. It is clear that the scale of the tasks ahead of us require the joint efforts of the entire scientific community. Over the last few decades, scientists and representatives of social organizations from many countries around the world – including Russia – have accumulated considerable experience of cooperation. This is information exchange, joint research, and participation in multi-lateral ecological and climate programmes. I am certain that it is necessary to develop this cooperation actively. And Russia intends to assist this in any way it can. I would also like to note the role of international climate organizations and UN programmes, such as the Intergovernmental group of experts on climate change. They will make an important contribution to coordinating the work of scientists of different countries of the world who study climate programmes. I am certain: comprehensive scientific analysis, findings by lawyers, economists and sociologists and wide support from the community are the necessary basis to create a universal international legal basis in the area of climate change. The juridical norms developed should take into account the interests of every nation. Limits should not be allowed to be placed on economic growth and social development. And there should also be an efficient mechanism to control the implementation of decisions and agreements made. Ladies and gentlemen. It is no coincidence that Russia was the initiator of holding the International conference on climate change in Moscow. Our country has significant intellectual potential in the area of climatology. The achievements of Russian scientific schools and tendencies, and the accomplishments of Russian scientists are acknowledged by the international community. Furthermore, a quarter of the planet’s forests are located on Russian territory. Over many years, Russia has made a serious practical contribution in reducing man’s impact on the climate. Of course, we know, and all over the world it is a well-known fact: over the last decade there has been a serious economic decline in Russia. At the same time, since 1990, including thanks to structural improvements in the Russian economy – I would like to pay particular attention to this – the burden and emissions have been reduced by 32%. Thanks to this, in the period from 1991 to 2002, almost 40% of the growth of emission of greenhouse gases in other countries has been compensated for, if records are started from 1990. In connection with this, I would like to say that Russia is being actively called on to ratify the Kyoto protocol as soon as possible. I am certain that these appeals will also be heard many times at your meeting. I want to say that the Government of the Russian Federation is carefully examining and studying this issue, studying the entire range of complex problems connected with this. A decision will be made after this work is finished. And, of course, it will be made in accordance with the national interests of the Russian Federation. Esteemed conference participants, We have already seen that constant and constructive international dialogue allows us to find keys to solving global problems of the modern world. This is what the problem of climate change is – complex and with many factors. Today, partnership in this area serves our common interest, and gives real benefit to all countries, without any exaggeration, to all mankind. And I am certain that, working with each other, we can achieve even greater success. Allow me to wish you fruitful work, interesting discussions, the realization of plans intended, and that you get to know Moscow. I wish you all the very best. Thank you very much. REMARKS AT FORUM President Vladimir Putin: In Russia, you can often hear, either in joke or seriously, that Russia is a northern country. If it was two or three degrees warmer, this would be no big deal. Maybe it would even be a good thing – we would spend less money or fur coats and other warm items. Specialists on agriculture say: the grain harvest is increasing here, and it will continue to increase, thank God. This is all true, of course, but undoubtedly we should think of other things as well. We should think of the consequences of these possibly global climate changes. We should think about in which regions we face the difficult consequences of these changes, where there will be droughts, and where we will be forced to fight floods, which we are facing in recent years more and more frequently. We should think what the consequences will be for people who live in these regions, what the socio-economic and ecological consequences will be. Of course, it is very difficult to measure the result of work by specialists at the current time who have gathered in this hall – in roubles, dollars or euros. But we understand full well that in the mid-term perspective, and even more so in the long term perspective, the results of your activity are also difficult to put a price on, because the scales is so great that these possible changes cannot be calculated. And for us, for people who organize the life of nations, who plan the economy, the knowledge is very important that can be given to us by specialists who are in this hall today. We are very proud that in the days to come Moscow will be a centre for studying extremely important problems of the modern world, problems of climate change. This has happened because you made the decision to come to Moscow, to Russia, and gather here for joint work. We thank you for this. I sincerely wish you success in your work. Thank you very much.