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The Paris Agreement … on Sakhalin Island

The Sakhalin Oblast plans to become a pilot region where work will be carried out to reduce greenhouse gas emissions within the framework of the Paris Agreement. Representatives of public environmental organizations welcome this initiative and believe that the development and implementation of regional and municipal climate plans should be supported at the national level.

It is planned to start work on the Paris Agreement by 2022. But first, the Sakhalin authorities intend to deal with the decarbonization of the energy sector:  in the near future, a regional system for monitoring greenhouse gas emissions will be introduced; governor of the region Valery Limarenkocame up with this initiative. To do this, together with the Ministry of Economic Development of Russia the region is developing a draft federal law “On conducting an experiment to establish special regulation in order to create the necessary conditions for the introduction of technologies aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the Sakhalin region.

To implement the low-carbon plans, according to the leadership of the Sakhalin region, will help the “projects to accelerate the transition to environmentally friendly natural gas and methane-hydrogen mixtures, the use of hydrogen in transport and other sectors of the economy, the development of clean energy based on renewable sources.”

This is not the first initiative of the island Far East region: last year, an agreement on cooperation on renewable energy was signed with the Russian Academy of Sciences, and recently, the Sakhalin governor announced plans to completely abandon traditional cars in the region in favor of electric and gas-powered vehicles by 2030.

A scientific center for the study of climate is being created at the Sakhalin University. And in the next academic year, new specialties in the areas of hydrogen energy and climate research are scheduled to take a start. Not so long ago, within the framework of plans for the preparation and implementation of projects aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the Government of the Sakhalin Region signed an agreement with the Yu. A. Israel Institute of Global Climate and Ecology.

Sakhalin’s “climatic March” cannot be considered accidental: the island is not connected to the “mainland;” it is not part of the Unified Energy System of Russia and has no network covering the entire region but only local stations. At the same time, energy facilities in the region are quite diverse, varying from diesel generators to state district power stations, small hydroelectric power plants, and wind turbines. Sakhalin can be considered a clean slate for creating an energy system.

 

According to the President of the RAS Alexander Sergeyev, it so happens that Sakhalin, which is not too well-developed in scientific and technical terms, can become a testing ground for the development of advanced technologies. The neighborhood with Japan can play a significant role in this process: the Sakhalin people have someone to look up to: the Japanese have been experimenting with water energy for a long time, they have created the first efficient installations for generating electricity from sea currents. Estimates for those currents that wash the Pacific shores show that this is a virtually unlimited source of energy.

 

Sakhalin also has the first renewable energy facilities: two mini-hydro electric power plants in Paramushir with a total capacity of 1.6 MW, Mendeleevskaya geothermal TPP - 7.4 MW, and wind turbines in Golovnino and Novikovo, 0.5 MW each. Calculations by the new method of the Higher School of Economics showed that the coastal zones of Sakhalin are the most promising for the development of wind energy.

 

At the same time, like any island, Sakhalin is a territory extremely vulnerable to climate change. It is located in a seismically active zone and is often influenced by hurricanes and typhoons originating in the ocean. The settlements of the island are periodically flooded by a surge.

Sakhalin Oblast Governor Valery Limarenko calls low-carbon plans an “experiment”. He believes that the region is “a unique territory due to its island isolation, a wide variety of natural and climatic conditions, the presence of global domestic and international energy companies with advanced solutions in the field of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and strong economic ties with the countries of the Asia-Pacific region and the emerging climate services market.”

Development of climate plans for the regions is what representatives of public environmental organizations are talking about. Russia not so long ago came up with a climate adaptation plan, but the document is only a framework and needs to be filled with real programs and activities.

In their Position representatives of the Russian Social and Ecological Union (RSEU) propose to approve adaptation goals by industry and sector of the economy, as well as for regions and municipalities. They also consider it necessary to develop and adopt a regulatory and methodological framework for the formation and implementation of climate plans for the constituent entities of the Russian Federation and municipalities, including both low-carbon development and adaptation. In addition, according to civil society activists, it is necessary to form regional working groups with public participation to develop and implement adaptation plans and include climate actions and their results in the ratings of regional governors.

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