By Nastassia Astrasheuskaya
MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia confirmed on Thursday it would not make cuts in greenhouse gas emissions from 2013 under the U.N.'s Kyoto Protocol, joining Canada and Japan in rejecting an extension of the plan for fighting climate change.
The foreign ministry said Moscow would not join industrialized nations led by the European Union in signing up for cuts beyond a first round of commitments ending on December 31, 2012.
Earlier this month, Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich said on Twitter that a decision "had not been made" on new obligations, suggesting the government was still mulling participation.
Russia said on Thursday it would now focus on a U.N. plan, agreed last year, to come up with a new international deal by 2015 obliging both developed and developing countries to limit gas emissions that would enter into force from 2020.
"The Russian Federation finds the extension of the Kyoto protocol in its current state ineffective and does not intend to take on obligations to lower greenhouse gas emissions as part of the so-called second round of liabilities," Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said in a statement.
"The content of the climate obligations and actions may be different for developed and developing countries, but they must be reflected in a single document. Without that, it will be useless," he added.
All industrialized nations except for the United States signed up for the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which seeks to cut their greenhouse gas emissions by at least 5.2 percent below 1990 levels by 2008-12.
Washington said Kyoto would damage the U.S. economy and that the pact unfairly omitted 2012 targets for developing nations led by China and India. Developing nations say they need to burn more fossil fuels to end poverty.
Russia had previously indicated at U.N. climate negotiations that it would not extend an internationally-binding Kyoto target beyond the first 2008-2012 period.
Moscow has committed only to a voluntary pledge to cut emissions, which come mainly from burning fossil fuels, by 15-25 percent by 2020.
Russia's emissions have plunged since the collapse of Soviet-era smokestack industries. In 2010 they were 34 percent below 1990 levels, far below Moscow's target under Kyoto of not exceeding the 1990 level in the years 2008-12.
The likely list of "Kyoto 2" participants accounts for only 15-17 percent of global greenhouse emissions, Lukashevich said, while the countries that participated in the first round of cuts accounted for 30 percent of global emissions.
That makes the target of limiting the global temperature rise to no more than 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial times impossible to reach, he said.
Two degrees Celsius is seen as a threshold to dangerous climate changes such as floods, droughts and rising sea levels. Temperatures have already risen by about 0.8 Celsius.
A group of Russian industrial and energy companies, including Rusal, the world's largest aluminum company, and TNK-BP, one of Russia's biggest oil and gas producers, have been lobbying the government to take on a post-2012 Kyoto target.
That would allow them to continue to earn carbon credits for emission reduction projects under the U.N.'s Joint Implementation mechanism.
Last month, a leaked draft government decree revealed Moscow was working on firming its conditional 2020 domestic emission reduction pledge into an absolute target of a 20 percent emission reduction target under 1990 levels.
That target reached, it could pave the way to a regional cap-and-trade scheme comparable in size to the EU carbon market.
(Reporting By Nastassia Astrasheuskaya; Editing by Alister Doyle and Pravin Char)