Russia’s official speech at Doha climate talks

Olga Senova

On December 6 in his official COP18 speech Mr. Bedritsky, Head of the Russian delegation, confirmed the country’s intention to commit to an “up to 25%” emissions reduction from the 1990 level by 2020. This may imply both constraining the emissions to 75% of the 1990 level by 2020 and rather unrestricted emissions growth. The carry-over of 6 billion tons of Russian AAUs to the period of time until 2020, the hot air, must not substitute actual implementation of renewable energy, say NGOs.

In his high segment plenary speech Mr. Bedritsky confirmed the main points previously announced at the press conference in Doha. Among other things he stated that “The carry-over of Assigned Amount Units (AAUs) is a clearly stipulated right of any Annex-B party to the Kyoto Protocol” and that “Russia is insisting on the transfer of remaining AAUs for those countries who are entitled to it.”

He also declared that “Our country endeavors to avoid any lacunae in its GHG-emissions-reductions activities. In 2013 we will begin to realize the emissions-reduction goal we announced in Copenhagen and confirmed in Cancun as part of our Convention commitments; namely, a 25% reduction in emissions by 2020.”

Yet again the target was mentioned as “up to 25%”, not plain“25%”, which may imply any bracket, including “15-25%”, suggested by the Ministry of Nature Resources and Environment, according to unofficial information. This means that there is a possibility of any sorts of emissions growth by 2020 beyond 75% of the 1990 level.

The “Convention commitments” for the countries that did not support the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol are obviously a weaker instrument, since they do not have a mandatory status.

Besides, the official speech did not clarify whether the “up to 25%” target only applied to emissions reduction measures or includes carbon sequestration by forests as well.

Common sense and a few indirect statements made at the press conference yesterday give us hope that taking carbon sequestration by forests into consideration should only increase Russia’s ambition. According to expert estimations, including the forests would make it possible to start speaking about a 35-40% target, which means reaching 60-65% of the 1990 level by 2020. But so far Russia’s official statements failed to provide any sort of clarification on that matter.

At the press conference the day before Mr. Bedritsky said that one must consult official statements when wondering about the country’s commitments. The latest statement of this kind was made by then President Dmitry Medvedev at Rio+20 last summer. The target declared there was “25%” without any “up to”. Mr. Bedritsky’s working at this COP may signify the weakening of Russia’s official ambition.
The issues of accounting and protection of forests in the international climate policy framework are in the sphere of interest to both specialists and public. According to Bedritsky, “One fifth of the planet’s forests are located within the Russian Federation. This is 70% of all boreal forests and 25% of virgin forests. For this reason, the Russian Federation advocates taking due account of the contribution forests make to stabilizing the climate. Russia suggests developing relevant projects to this end in the new climate agreement.”

For the complete A. Bedritsky’s official COP18 speech click here.