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We can do but do not want it?

Russia is one of the few countries which still have not ratified the Paris AgreementDiscussion on its aspects is currently taking place in Bonn (Germany) at the UN Climatic Conference. On the eve of the summit, the Climate Action Tracker (CAT) research group placed Russia into the list of countries with “catastrophically inadequate climate policy.”

The climate analysts came to the conclusion that Russia, along with Ukraine, Chili, U.S., Turkey and the Saudi Arabia pull the world towards the 4-degree warming. The Climate Action Tracker has been holding the assessment of countries’ efforts on reduction of greenhouse gas emissions for eight years. Based on the results of the latest researches, such countries as Canada, SAR, Australia, and Argentina were excluded from the list of the “utmost climatically inadequate” countries. As authors of the CAT rating claim, the place in the list depends not only on the climate policy of a country but also the most recent data on its emissions and the dynamics of those.

Russia is one of the biggest in the world producers of fossil fuels; it has a huge potential for mitigation of the outcomes and can play a significant role in the global climate politics. With that, it is one of the major emitters who have not ratified the Paris Agreement,” the authors of the Climate Action Tracker report wrote.

In the experts’ opinion, refraining from ratification of the new climate agreement, Russia is pushing forward the strategy which does not help reduction of country’s emissions. “President Putin, it looks so, stepped back from his concerns regarding the climate change problem and returned to more skeptical comments on that matter,” analysts pointed out.

The experts reminded about the promises of another Russian leader: “Presently, no single Russian official document has confirmed Russia’s pursuance of the long-term goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions for no less than 50% below the level of 1990 by 2050, which then President Medvedev claimed at the G8 Summit in G'Acilila in 2009.

According to the latest CAT assessments, the presently implemented Russia’s energy policy will lead to 2.6 Gt emissions of CO2 in 2020 and 2.7-2.8 Gt of CO2 in 2030 (without consideration of LULUCF, the agricultural and forestry sectors). Such levels of emissions de-facto amount to the reduction from the 1990 level by 28% in 2020 and by 23-26% in 2030. Howeverin comparison with 2014, this means an increase by 8-38%.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union in the 1990s, Russia’s emissions had significantly gone down and reached their historical minimum. Since then, they have been steadily growing and, as it is expected, will keep growing at least till 2030. However, Russia does not need to implement any sort of new policy to achieve the climate changes it claimed.”

The experts gave negative assessment to Russia’s position on the forests. They refer to the ambiguity in the methods of measuring emissions in this sector. “We presume that Russia will use such a way of assessment in the LULUCF sector which will allow to significantly increase emissions in the target year as compared to the present level. This presumption is coming out of the claimed INDC (countries’ climatic obligations) which indicated that ‘the absorbing forest capacity will be ultimately taken into consideration.’ This adds even more uncertainty in regards of Russia’s target levels of emissions.”

Western experts gave a positive assessment to the prospects of RESs development in Russia. Climate analysts pointed out the regulatory acts adopted in Russia in support of RESs and also the current IEA forecasts, according to which the increase of the quota of renewable energy sources in the use of primary energy will keep going on and amount approximately to 3.2% in 2014 and 4.8% by 2030. 

Quoting the “Friends of the Earth Russia” experts wrote, “It is expected that a new law allowing private producers to be linked to the network will accelerate the development of renewable energy sources.” While the latest events in the market of Russian RESs are quite a progress, this is not enough for a fair and adequate input of the country into the global mitigation of climate change outcomes. 

The climate analysts believe that Russia is one of the “anchors” of the international climate process; it can work for the benefit of the process or slow down the movement. In the experts’ opinion, the first step in the right direction would be a correct and adequately formulated goal until 2030, which would really foresee emission reduction and not just imitate achievement of the results.