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President Putin proposed to hold the Climate Forum in Russia

The problem of climate change was one of the key topics at the 70th session of the UN General Assembly held this September. Leaders of 193 countries, including Russia, have announced their positions on ways to sustainable development.

The topic of climate change was not the first, but one of the broached in speeches by Russian leaders. In his speech, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that "in the framework of its national contribution in 2030, Russia plans to limit greenhouse gas emissions to 70-75 percent of the 1990 levels."

According to the Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov who gave his speech at the UN session the day before the President, Russia "is the world leader in the cumulative reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and compensates for the emissions growth in other countries and regions of the world. We exceeded our commitments under the Kyoto Protocol: our emissions are by 31 % below 1990 emissions. The energy sector emissions in Russia decreased by 37 % over the past 20 years (this amount is comparable to the 5-year emissions of all EU countries and 3-year emissions of the USA)."

Unfortunately, 31 % below the 1990 level is not as impressive as it may seem, as it is "the legacy of the past" - the result of the drop in production and changes in the structure of the economy, but not of any effort and of introduction of new technologies. The goal of reducing emissions to 70-75 percent below 1990 levels, especially taking into account absorption by forests, will mean in the coming years some rise in emissions in the short term, because the level of greenhouse gas emissions is already by 30 % below 1990 levels at the moment. So, reaching this goal does not require any special measures and change the of the resource orientation in the Russian economy.

Lavrov linked the issue of Russia's commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions with boreal forests of Russia, "which absorb about 600 million tons of carbon dioxide per year. We will seek to take account of this factor under the new agreement," said the Minister.

Absorption of carbon dioxide by forests is an important factor in climate regulation. However, 600 million tons are not as impressive with the account for the total emissions of more than 2 billion tons per year (with forests) in the Russian Federation.

Sergei Lavrov took the initiative to reinforce the efforts of the UN Forum on Forests by effective actions. According to him, "in the framework of this Forum one can create a kind of the United Nations center for planning, protection and restoration of forests in order to address the challenges of sustainable development and curb climate change."

The Russian President addressed the Assembly participants with a proposal to convene, under the auspices of the UN, "the special forum for a comprehensive look at the problems associated with the depletion of natural resources, habitat destruction, and climate change. Russia is ready to become one of the organizers of the forum," said Putin.

The Russian president explained the relevance of such an event by the need to unite the efforts of the states, "which have strong research base and backlog of basic science."

According to Vladimir Putin, the problem of climate change must be seen broader than currently accepted. "Yes, setting quotas for emissions and using other measures we can reduce the acuteness of the problem for some time, but will certainly not solve it radically. We need a qualitatively different approach. It should be implementation of innovative nature-like technologies that do not cause damage to the environment, but exist with it in harmony and allow restoration of the disturbed balance between the biosphere and the technosphere."

The Russian President Vladimir Putin called the global climate change the planetary scale challenge, and expressed interest of Russia in positive results of the UN Climate Conference to be held in December in Paris.

According to the Climate Secretariat of the Russian Social Ecological Union, the attention of the leaders of our country to climate change looks promising. Hopefully, this attention embodies in the active position of the official Russian delegation at the forthcoming UN Climate Conference in Paris, as well as in strengthening national actions in the sphere of energy efficiency and renewable energy.

President Putin's speech at the 70th UN General Assembly
Foreign Minister Lavrov’s speech at the 70th UN General Assembly