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Kyoto mechanisms: Russia’s lost opportunities or chance for real modernization?

Olga Senova

At the UN climate negotiations Russia is still taking a stand against the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol (KP) after 2012. The opportunities of the first period are missed out by Russia. Due to the unfavorable national procedure only 32 projects have been approved, and many investors have left the country. The President has called to take the advantage of the remaining 18 months and promote emissions-reducing projects to the maximum. Russia’s participation in the second period is very important in order to unite global action for climate change mitigation. But even without the KP Russia’s national interests and priorities in international affairs will lead the country to the obvious need to develop its own emissions reduction policy.

Despite the adoption of the National Climate Doctrine and the Action program for its implementation, Russia still has no quantitative plans concerning emissions reduction. The Goals to improve energy efficiency, according to the Federal Law #261, are likely to result in emissions reduction. But if extraction and use of carbon-based fuel will follow along with the measures to increase energy efficiency, the new added emissions will be way greater than any positive effect that may be reached.

At the Climate mitigation: goals, objective and decisions round-table, that was organized in Arkhangelsk by Climate Change Global Services company as part of the Climate change and water management – Meeting the Challenges in the Barents Region conference the issues of national and international GHG emissions reduction mechanisms were discussed.

The current international situation forces implementation of emissions restriction mechanisms. Russia is the only G8 country without a national emissions reduction program. All of the G20 countries have either adopted or are discussing national programs of this kind. In this situation Russia shall demonstrate the willing to keep up in order to maintain the image of an equal partner.

The Ministry of Economical Development is currently discussing the possibilities of creating a corporate emissions accountancy system - this system may be an equivalent to the voluntary Reports on sustainable development with regard to the requirements of the international Sustainability Reporting Guidelines by the Global Reporting Initiative. This kind of reporting are considered to be the most progressive one by the world’s business leaders. Many of Russian major companies who wish to stand out on the global level release annual Reports on sustainable development.

Russian business should be ready for that. Many responsible companies have already been ISO 9000 and ISO 14000 certified for a long time. A new regulation GOST R ISO14064-1-2007, based on ISO 14064, was inforced in Russia in February 2010. This is a big step forward in accounting emissions from enterprises and raising their motivation to further emission reductions. While not obligatory, this standard gives businesses an opportunity to use unified principles and procedures when planning, developing, managing and reporting on GHG emissions.

Soon the long-awaited, landmark standard, ISO 50001:2011 (Energy management systems — Requirements with guidance for use) will be launched. This innovative standard is a response to the requirement of higher energy efficiency in modern businesses. Responsible companies that strive to be competitive on the international level voluntarily start preparing their reporting according to this standard, because it might soon become a part of obligatory reporting.

In Europe, a new emissions reduction scheme is widely discussed - Carbon labeling that reflects the carbon-intensity of a product, an equivalent of the energy class labeling. This labeling should reflect GHG emissions at all stages of a product’s production regardless of the country where it was manufactured. For example, if a dishwasher sold in the US was manufactured in China, then the emission share of the Chinese factory, equivalent to the energy used to manufacture the dishwasher, will be included in its carbon-intensity index. Thus the index may affect the competitiveness of the product, and the responsibility for the emissions will fall on the very company, the producer, and not on the country (countries) of production.

The Climate Conference of the Russian Socio-Ecological Union (RSEU) held in November 2010 adopted the Resolution on Climate and Energy Policy and directed it to the President and the Government. In the Resolution, the need to develop a Road Map to reduce GHG emissions by 80% by 2050 from the 1990 level was emphasized. This Road Map shall be in quantitative accordance with the goals to increase energy efficiency and renewable energy implementation. This call still remains timely and urgent.

Support of KP’s second commitment period by Russia will both boost the country’s positive image and also bring direct benefits from investments in Joint Implementation Projects on energy efficiency and renewable energy.