Climate change is reality and the reason for action
For Russia, climate change brings not only positive warming and shortening the heating season. The number of natural disasters increased drastically. Negative changes will affect the agricultural sector - the climate zone favorable for agriculture shifts away from black-earth areas to the north, and fertile black-earth areas are becoming drier. Permafrost is melting, thus causing destruction of infrastructure of cities and technical facilities. Melting ice in the Arctic threatens with the extinction of a number of animal spesies. Other animals and microorganisms migrate with changes in climatic conditions, bringing alien pathogens to new regions.
The Climate Doctrine of Russia, adopted a year ago, marked a necessary course of actions. The main among them are reducing greenhouse gas emissions and set of measures to adapt to climate change. Action plan to implement the Climate Doctrine of Russia should be adopted on October 1, 2010, but so far it has not happened. According to Prof. Lev Karlin, the Rector of the State Hydrometeorological University, the draft of this document has been prepared by experts and will soon be adopted. Russian Socio-Ecological Union believes that the delay in the adoption of this document seriously slows down the activity of Russia in the field of climate policy, and it weakens our position, including at the international level.
In 2009, the international UN conference on climate (COP-15) was held in Copenhagen. It resulted in a document named Copenhagen Accord, which essentially is just an agreement of intent by countries, including voluntary goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. In this document, Russia took the commitment to reduce emissions in the following 11 years by 15-25% as compared to 1990. Russian industry was booming in 1990, so then greenhouse gas emissions were much higher than now. In fact, such a commitment means growth of emissions by 10-20% in 2020 as compared to the current levels.
Most countries have low expectations of the Conference in Cancún. The EU considers prevention of the rise in temperature of the planet more than by 2 degrees by the end of the century as its main goal. The Conference will discuss the possibility of a new international agreement, as well as options for extension of the Kyoto Protocol for several years - if no new agreement will be reached by 2012. Russia together with a number of other countries are interested in the mechanisms of integration of the roles of boreal forests in carbon sequestration. The Conference will also discuss the mechanisms for building international funds, including charges for international flights obligatory for all countries. According to Alexander Fedorov, co-chairman of the Russian Socio-Ecological Union (RSEU), the probability of reaching any major agreement in Cancún is very low. Objective contradiction between the interests and positions of developed and developing countries create the situation, in which the world community is unable to develop a common approach to the problem vital for every country.
Olga Senova, the coordinator of the RSEU Climate Secretariat, believes that the constructive position of Russia at the talks in Cancún may serve as catalyst for reaching a number of agreements required as a basis for a comprehensive international agreement.
Expectations of Russian non-governmental environmental organizations from the COP-16.
National targets: Russia, like all other developed countries, should set a national long-term goal of 80% emission reduction from 1990 levels by 2050. The share of renewable energy should be at least 50% by 2050 in this country.
Important for Russia is to implement national measures for energy efficiency and energy saving, which will reduce energy intensity of economy by 40% during 2007 - 2020. Then, at realistic rates of economic development, using mainly energy-saving technologies in the coming years, emissions can be stabilized, and in 2020 their level will be by 35% lower than in 1990. These are actual emissions of the economy as such, i. e., without taking into account the absorption by forests, and "transfer" of quotas under the Kyoto Protocol from 2008 - 2012.
Environmental NGOs are calling on a short-term national goal to stabilize emissions at a level of minus 35% by 2020, and stress the feasibility of this objective and its benefits for long-term development of the country. That would be a critical first step toward building a carbon-free economy.
1) Russian objectives set forth in the Annex to the Copenhagen agreement (15-25%) are quite insufficient to stop the growth of global greenhouse gas emissions.
In Cancún, environmental organizations are expecting Russia to claim that the national goal is not less than minus 25%, and that it does not include the absorption of forests and any transfers of quotas from 2008-2012.
Environmental NGOs also expect that Russian officials acknowledge that, to stop emissions growth, Russia has to (and can) ensure "minus 35% by 2020" without taking into account absorption by forests and transfer of quotas from 2008-2012.
Promoting the uptake of CO2 by forests is the most important activity of Russia. Forests as natural carbon sinks and natural climate regulators require special measures for conservation and separate agreements.
2) Joint implementation projects and the extension of the Kyoto Protocol. We are not satisfied that the development in Russia of Joint Implementation Projects (JIPs) within the Kyoto Protocol is on the way to support a small number of projects of major business companies, and not on ways to support hundreds of small projects on renewable energy sources (RES). Approaches to the approval of projects and related criteria should be changed.
Nuclear power shall not be in JIPs, in no form and in no period of the Kyoto Protocol. Unfortunately, this issue is still under discussion in the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Kyoto Protocol. Environmental organisations demand from Russia to speak out against the inclusion of nuclear power in JIPs.
Quotas from 2008 - 2012 should not be considered as a tool for the next agreement. In the context of the Cancún, all countries, including Russia, have to operate with actual emissions, as soon as the latter determine technological modernisation and actions of a country on the path to carbon-free economy. In this context, environmental organisations have called on Russia to declare a refusal from the sale of "Kyoto quotas."
Nevertheless, environmental groups are calling on Russia to facilitate extension of the Kyoto Protocol to the period after 2012 in one form or another. Now there are different scenarios that are not appropriate to interfere, even if our country has now no intention to participate in them. "Extra" years of action under the Kyoto Protocol will not harm the preparation of the new agreement, but will help preserve the best of what it has, especially projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
3) Immediate action on the "burning" issues of help to the most vulnerable countries. In Cancún, Russia shall continue to actively contribute to decisions to prevent deforestation and forest degradation (REDD), adaptation, technology transfer and capacity building of countries. These solutions are targeted at urgent help to the most vulnerable and poor countries. Therefore they must be taken immediately without waiting for decisions on other issues, probably more important for Russia.