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Down with the energy backwardness!

On 27-28 October, the Russian Social Ecological Union held the 7th Annual Conference on Climate and Energy. The conference speakers believe that there are no major barriers to implementation of energy efficiency in the country, it is enough to eliminate energy backwardness at all levels.

Energy efficiency is the key to solving many environmental and economic problems. In addition to saving resources, energy efficiency provides significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions that affect climate change. According to the conference participants, these theses require evidence no longer.

According to the experts, unfortunately, will be extremely difficult to ensure sustainable growth and achieve 40 % reduction in energy intensity of the gross regional product (GRP) by 2020 with existing development strategies and tactical measures taken in the majority of regions, in spite of the huge potential of energy efficiency.

Russia has several scenarios for reducing greenhouse gas emissions by "energy measures." The way to achieve the most "soft" variant was opened by the Presidential Decree No. 752 «On reduction of greenhouse gas emissions" - holding emissions by 25 % below 1990 levels by 2020. From the point of view of representatives of environmental organizations, in this scenario the formulation "commitments to average annual emissions" is very important.

The more "advanced" scenario is a package of measures to support low-carbon development. It includes the launch of the "white certificates" scheme, encouraging the introduction of grid contracts, standardization of equipment and strengthening the requirements and standards for energy efficiency for buildings, providing subsidies to small and medium industrial enterprises to develop and implement energy efficiency programs, public procurement of energy-efficient office and household equipment and transport.

The most "hard", but the most promising in terms of climate and ecology option is providing in 2021-2030 average annual emissions at the level not higher than 70 % of the 1990 value. This path involves rejection of the strategy to build electricity export, restricting it at no more than 20 billion kWh, encouraging the introduction of renewable energy, introduction of a carbon tax to finance development of alternative sources and energy efficiency among consumers, accelerating the introduction of non-fuel energy sources, and higher energy prices.

It is important to note that nothing special is required for all the three options. According to Yevgeniy Gasho, the expert of the Analytical Centre of the Russian Government, the problem of energy efficiency can be solved through the system of measures along the supply chain: generation - distribution - consumption, taking into account regional specificities. Experts believe that, in the broadest sense, is just necessary to eliminate energy backwardness.

The possibility of reducing energy consumption in Russia exists, and the main growth point is the regions. Each Russian region need to reduce losses and wastage of fuel and energy resources in various economic sectors, to ensure growth of the regional economy through businesses with low power consumption, to develop new energy-efficient technologies and to stake on development of renewable energy.

The measures planned only in the state program shall give by 2020 primary energy savings of 1.124 billion tce, natural gas 330 billion cubic meters, 630 billion kWh of electricity, heat energy Gcal 1.55 billion, 17 million tons of petroleum products. Expected annual energy savings within the state program exceeds the total planned annual production of one of Russia's largest nuclear power plants (Leningrad or Kursk NNPs, 28 billion kWh per year each) and of Russia's largest thermal power station - Surgut GRES (up to 39 billion kWh per year).

According to Nicholay Pitirimov, the Chairman of the Homeowners Association of St. Petersburg, the annual economic effect from energy-efficient reconstruction of heating is of the order of 4 billion euros per year.

Olga Senova, the Head of the Climate Secretariat of the Russian Social Ecological Union, says: “Unfortunately, government programs and plans pay insufficient attention to "support activities" - training, promotion of energy conservation, co-financing of projects, subsidies and tax breaks. Environmental NGOs have extensive successes in education in the field of energy efficiency, promotion of practical projects within the campaign "Energy efficiency is the largest, cleanest and cheapest energy source in Russia." However, the activists get no support for the authorities, though it would be much more efficient to eliminate energy illiteracy within common efforts!

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