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Russia at Bangkok climate negotiations: against 2nd period of Kyoto protocol, but for development of Kyoto mechanisms

Ekaterina Uspenskaya

At the past negotiations in Bangkok Russia continued to push against the second commitment period and for a future replacement of the Kyoto protocol with a brand new agreement. At the same time Russia is aiming at using the potential of Kyoto mechanisms for obvious benefits. Besides, Russia proposed a sectoral approach to emissions reduction in metallurgy, cement industry and the energy sector. Sadly, nuclear power keeps being advocated as a low-carbon solution.

The first UNFCCC meeting that took place in Bangkok this year has not lead to significant results as to clarify the future of the Kyoto protocol and the related flexible economic mechanisms.

Russia keeps emphasizing the unacceptability of the second commitment period and stands for the replacement of KP with a new agreement. According to the official position, KP is inefficient from the point of view of its goals and objectives, especially when it comes to alleviating the impact on the climatic system. However, the delegation emphasizes that Russia is not withdrawing from the Protocol and would like to continue the collaboration in the field of GHG emissions reduction. At the same time Russia is aiming at using the full potential of flexible mechanisms, while the future of the latter is still unclear.

Members of the Russian delegation see nothing bad in Bangkok outcomes. According to them, a temporary gap between the climate regimes after 2012 is inevitable, since the document that could possibly follow KP has not been developed so far, and neither have any of its parts or details. The forces will now be gathered for the final round of negotiations to take place in Durban, South Africa, in the end of the year.

No obstacles are seen for Russia to use of beneficial flexible mechanisms. According to Alexander Bedritsky, the presidential advisor on climate change, Russia is able to establish its own national market mechanisms of carbon credit trading even without any international climate agreement.

Currently Russia keeps preparing the ground for the smooth implementation of flexible mechanisms in the country. For instance, certain attempts have been made to simplify the process of approving JI projects. Russia faces no exemption from Kyoto mechanisms. Recently, the country’s report to UNFCCC on GHG emissions reduction in 2008 passed the check with no criticism.

Aside from this, among the proposals sent to UNFCCC Secretariat, Russia proposed a sectoral approach to emissions reduction in metallurgy, cement industry and the energy sector. Sadly, nuclear power keeps being advocated as a low-carbon solution.

Possible developments at the negotiations
Now it becomes clearer that a new long-term agreement containing emission reduction targets by all major countries may only come into force earliest in 6 to 8 years. Too big are matters of argument and too cautious are the major polluters, such as China, India and the US in taking commitments upon themselves. It is most likely that for the period after 2012 a sort of an interim document, a so-called Kyoto-2, will be adopted for a few years. During those years a new global agreement that will follow Kyoto, has to be developed.

Comments by RSEU

In this kind of situation we suppose that it would be better for Russia not to fight against the second commitment period, but try and focus on preparing itself a soft and advantageous base while a new agreement is being designed. For instance, Russia could keep promoting the inclusion of the contribution of its forests in the emissions reduction reporting and, of course, provide assistance in ensuring stability for flexible mechanisms implementation.
JI projects still do not vastly contribute to GHG emissions reduction in Russia, but they are economically profitable and facilitate Russian industry’s energy efficiency growth, among other things. RSEU hopes that the JI mechanism will prove its emissions-reducing potential, and that the number of JI renewable energy projects will grow.

According to Olga Senova, Head of RSEU Climate Secretariat, the sectoral approach proposed in Bangkok by Russia (and already used by some developed countries) is a positive step. To make this approach effective on national level it is important to find mechanisms motivating companies for application of new technologies. National regulation should give preferences to the most advanced companies, working for modernization of the most carbon intensive sectors (i.e. metallurgy, energy sector and cement industry).

RSEU Climate Secretariat emphasizes that according to NGOs and many experts, Russia’s proposal concerning the export on nuclear technologies to the developing countries as a low-carbon solution (as part of the CDM scheme) is totally unacceptable. Nuclear energy is not carbon neutral and is highly dangerous.