Presentation of the Russian Minister of Natural Resources and Ecology at the СОР-21 Climate Negotiations

On December 9, RF Minister of Natural Resources and Ecology Sergey Donskoy made a presentation at the press-conference within the frame of the UN COP-21 Climate Conference in Paris. The Minister presented Russia’s outcomes and plans on accounting and regulation of greenhouse gas emissions, development of energy efficiency and no-carbon energy generation; unfortunately, he had included in the latter major hydro power energy production and nuclear power stations.

The Minister confirmed that countering challenges stipulated by climate change is an absolute priority for Russia. Russia is presently accounting for 4% of world emissions, and this is the 5th place after China, the USA, India, and EU. Based on such responsibility, Russia has adopted commitment to stay under 75% of the 1990 level by 2020 and 70% of the 1990 level by 2030; according to S. Donskoy, this is quite an ambitious target with consideration of the economic growth. At the same time, S. Donskoy had pointed out that the RF target for 2030 is set with accounting of forest carbon absorption. This caused a journalists’ question, whether or not this contains a certain ambiguity, because other countries appealed for 40-50% reduction of actual emissions, and how does this “conditional” target look compared to that? In S. Donskoy’s opinion, compensation of emissions at the account of forest absorption is a normal approach.

S. Donskoy pointed out that one of the major instruments for achieving emissions goals is abiding to the law on setting standards of negative impact on the environment based on the principle of best available technologies. It is expected that “adoption and implementation of the best available in this field technologies should allow to reduce the level of emissions by a GDP unit by half.”

In point of fact, the primary step for Russia in emissions reduction should be the development of greenhouse gas emissions accounting system. According to S. Donskoy, up until 2016, companies with the amount of direct emissions exceeding 150 thousand tons per year are obliged tо submit information on their annual emissions. Under these frames, the Ministry of Nature and Ecology has approved the procedure of emissions accounting. A document on obligatory data reporting, registration and auditing will be released in the nearest future; it will provide for practical procedures of companies’ emissions accounting. It is planned to introduce data reporting for companies with emissions less than 50 thousand tons of СО2 equivalent per year before the end of 2018. The next step should be the discussion on introduction of the carbon price in the form of a tax or of an internal market. The question of the Green Peace Russia (V. Chuprov) concerned why Russia is so far behind in creating the concept and action plan on emissions reduction? Earlier, it was meant to be accomplished by September 2016; presently, according to the RF Government Order N 807-r of 06.05.2015, the term is September 2017, and this means that up until that time it will not be clear what type of mechanism will work in our country, would be it a tax or the trade. The Minister replied to that that Russia is not falling behind and that each country has its own mechanism of formatting its instruments, and we are planning our activities.

The Minister had stressed one more time the fundamental RF’s position at the negotiations: the Paris convention should fix all countries’ targets as legally abiding. This is necessary because the outcomes of climate changes are aggravating with each year. Only last year we had registered in Russia 569 hazardous hydro meteorological phenomena. The economic estimate of annual losses varies from 30 to 60 bln rubles. The year 2013 was extremal by floods: the damages exceeded 200 bln rubles. Processes entailed by consequences of climate change caused deaths of more than 190 people.

The Minister particularly spoke about Russia’s goals in the sphere of energy production and energy efficiency as the key directions in countering climate changes through decreasing economy’s dependence on carbons.

The plan is to achieve 25% reduction of the GDP volume energy and 12% reduction of the GDP power intensity by 2025 and annual growth of technological energy saving up to 200 mln tons of conditional fuel by 2035. By 2035, total investments in energy efficiency should amount to USD 240 bln.

About one half of the generating capacities commissioned in the recent years were in the hydropower industry, NPSs and renewable energy sources (RESs provided for about 13% with consideration of heat power engineering). In the nearest future, 1.5 GW of solar generating capacities will be introduced; solar stations already operate in Altay, Bashkortostan, Orenburg, and Novocheboksarsk. Thermal power generation is also in the plans: while presently only five geothermal stations operate in Kamchatka with total capacity of 80 MW, the plan is to attract USD 53 bln of investments in the RES sector before 2035.

In a short discussion with the Minister following the press-conference, representatives of the Russian Social and Ecology Union touched the outcomes of the RSEU’s overview of climate-related activities in the regions. S. Donskoy pointed out that his contacts with the regions showed that there were many problems and misunderstandings and he was interested to get acquainted with the results of the RSEU’s review and the barriers which regions see in their climatological activities.