Boris & Ryu's Deal

Boris & Ryu have just one-upped Bill & Al on a favorite Clinton-Gore subject - cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

Nickname-dropping Russian President Boris Yeltsin and Japanese Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto agreed at a chummy summit last weekend to carry out the world's first greenhouse-gas emissions swap. Under their deal, Japanese energy technicians would convert some 20 Russian power plants and factories to reduce their emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases that trap solar warmth. In return Japan would win credits to count in its own gas reduction efforts.

We applaud the plan. It's good for the stagnant Japanese economy, good for Russia's aging plants, and a good example for other nations.

The credit-swap system was a part of the global climate treaty signed last December in Kyoto for which Vice President Gore's US delegation fought most vigorously. But Messrs. Clinton and Gore are still trying to figure out how to persuade a skeptical US Senate to ratify the Kyoto treaty. One way to gain backers is to show that an emissions swap system is practical. To be so, it would have to make both developing - and rich - nations' factories more efficient, and create profitable new businesses in technically advanced nations.

Such steps provide prudent climate insurance - plus more thrifty use of energy resources - while scientists analyze further climate data. The Boris-Ryu deal is a useful start.

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