The national conference of the Russian Social Ecological Union on public participation in the national dialogue on climate change and sustainable energy
On November 2-4, the 5th All-Russian Conference of the Russian Social Ecological Union (RSEU) "Public participation in the national dialogue on climate change and sustainable energy" was held in Peterhof, a suburb of St. Petersburg. The conference brought together over 50 representatives of environmental NGOs from 24 regions of Russia, from Kaliningrad to Vladivostok.
The conference programme
The conference continued the RSEU work to support solutions in the field of energy conservation and energy efficiency, reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and human contribution to climate change.
The first day of the conference was devoted to education on climate and energy, to development of the SPARE project and of the volunteer educational program "Climate Ambassadors." The SPARE project, the "Climate Ambassadors" project and other educational programs of Russian and Nordic countries help to implement simple energy efficiency measures in schools and homes, show ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. "Climate Ambassadors", for example, work in Finland for about 8 years. These are volunteers who tell about the causes of climate change and about simple ways to contribute to the fight against it. The experience of Nordic colleagues is the basis for development of materials for Climate Ambassadors in Russian, which will be useful for teachers working in the SPARE project and for all those involved in education of children and adults on the topic of climate and energy.
The conference participants discussed the issues of national and local actions to promote low-carbon solutions, especially energy saving and energy efficiency. Russian Social Ecological Union have issued the public report "Energy and Climate Change in Russia", which shows both challenges and opportunities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through energy solutions in various sectors.
Developing this report, WWF Russia together with experts from RSEU and Greenpeace prepared a more detailed review on measures to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases in Russia and priorities of Russian NGOs.
Unfortunately, Russia has not approved yet the national goal of reducing emissions. The possible reduction target repeated many times by officials during the last 3 years – 25 % reduction by 2020 as compared to 1990 - has not been approved by governmental documents and has not become the basis for action plans. According to many experts, taking into account absorption by forests, Russia could take the commitment to stop emissions at the level of 60 % of 1990.
Russia's participation in the second period of the Kyoto Protocol would be an incentive to adopt more ambitious targets to reduce emissions. Experience of joint implementation projects shows that the Kyoto Protocol motivates companies to attract investment and implement projects to reduce CO2 emissions. The analysis presented at the conference by M. Yulkin, the chairman of the working group on climate of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs, has shown that, unfortunately, energy efficiency and renewable energy projects make an insignificant minority among the approved JI projects in Russia.
The conference participants paid particular attention to energy efficiency in residential buildings. In St. Petersburg, for example, residential buildings consume 19,6 % of electricity, and in the Leningrad region - 9.3 %. This shows great potential for energy savings in the residential sector. Non-governmental organizations in the region inform the public, support local and regional energy efficiency and energy saving projects, and help schools and housing associations to implement simple energy saving measures. At the conference, Friends of the Baltic NGO organised an exhibition on energy saving at home.
Center for Transboundary Cooperation presented an overview of the existing legislation, building codes and regulations to help those involved in energy efficiency programmes in constructed and existing buildings.
The conference also focused on the role of natural ecosystems in climate formation and in the maintenance of the global carbon balance. The conference participants contributed to the resolution with proposals on special measures for preservation of forests, wetlands and other natural ecosystems, development of mechanisms to account for forests and to support their preservation at international climate negotiations.
The conference participants discussed preparation of the RSEU information campaign "Energy efficiency is the largest power plant in Russia." This campaign is intended to show that the ongoing and planned energy efficiency projects in the country release the amount of energy comparable to the expected generation of planned thermal and nuclear power plants. According to the International Energy Agency, the energy obtained from energy saving and energy efficiency costs four times less than that from a newly built power station. RSEU believes that such an economic benefit, and the fact that the energy obtained from energy efficiency measures does not cause the growth in greenhouse gas emissions are strong arguments for reviewing priorities of the energy sector in the country.
The Conference adopted the following documents:
Resolution on Climate and Energy
Resolution on Nuclear Energy
position to the UN conference in Doha COP 18/MOP8.