Red mark for climate inactivity

Russia turned out to be one of the anti-leaders in the Climate Action Tracker ranking. Experts assessed Russia’s current climate policy as “extremely insufficient.” According to experts and representatives of public organizations, the country needs to set a date to achieve carbon neutrality and make ambitious short-term goals.

After a long break, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) published a synthesis of nationally determined contributions of countries to the Paris Agreement (PNC). Most parties to the convention have set a goal of achieving carbon neutrality by mid-century, and more than 80 have updated their goals. This progress could lead to emissions reductions of about 26% by 2030 compared to 2010, experts note.

Despite the clear trend to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in countries’ commitments, the UNFCCC secretariat notes that parties to the process must urgently redouble their efforts to combat climate change. The fact is that according to a recent IPCC report, limiting global average temperature rise to within 1.5°C requires a 45 percent reduction in CO2 emissions by 2030. “Failure to achieve this goal will be measured in enormous human costs,” the scientists warn.

“Those countries that have submitted ambitious new climate plans will help the emissions curve come down as early as 2030,” Alok Sharma, president of SOR26, commented on the ONUV review. “But without action by all countries, especially the largest economies, these efforts risk being in vain.”

The Climate Action Tracker (CAT) is quite critical in its assessments of the NDC; this was indicated in its Climate Responsibility Index. According to climate analysts, some countries have noticeably updated their targets and implemented new policies: the UK, Norway, the US, the EU, and Germany are among them. The performance of these countries was put by the SAT on the list of green-labeled “1.5°C compatible” countries.

“Such positive moves should be urgently followed by all other countries. Governments need to take advantage of the falling costs of renewable energy and storage and increase their installation. They should cancel their plans to build coal plants and drop funding for gas pipelines and terminals, as most government goals and actions remain woefully or critically insufficient,” CAT experts claim. 

Russia is at the red end of the CAT list, along with Brazil, Indonesia, Mexico, New Zealand, Singapore, and Vietnam. These countries, according to analysts, have failed to realize their ambitions - they have set the same or less ambitious goals for 2030 than they proposed in 2015 when they signed the Paris Agreement.

The assessment of Russia’s climate policy, published by the SAT, describes Russia's climate goals and policies as “critically insufficient.” This means that Russia’s climate actions are “minimal or non-existent” and “critically insufficient” to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement.

Climate Action Tracker ranks Russia’s outlined the NDC goal as “critically insufficient” compared to scientists’ proposed necessary CO2 reduction trajectories and “critically insufficient” compared to what experts believe to be a fair allocation of emissions. “Under the current policy, Russia’s economy-wide emissions are expected to either stabilize or continue to rise through 2030, whereas they need to decline rapidly,” the experts write.

The CAT points out that Russia's land use and forestry sector has indeed been a major emission sink since the mid-1990s, peaking at 723 MtCO2-equivalent in 2010. Since then, this figure has dropped to 535 MtCO2 in 2019 (the last year of inventory data) and is expected to continue to decline.

Experts assess it as a negative fact that Russia has no goal of achieving carbon neutrality. “Further expansion of fossil fuel consumption and exports is planned in the latest energy strategy, while commitments to expand the use of renewable energy sources are completely absent. Recently adopted economy-wide energy efficiency goals fall short, and action in other sectors, such as industry and transportation, is minimal. If all countries followed Russia’s approach, warming could be between 3°C and 4°C,” the CAT paper noted. “Russia needs to set a more ambitious emissions reduction target and adopt and implement additional climate policy measures,” the experts conclude.

Like climate analysts, representatives of public environmental organizations consider Russia’s lack of a goal to achieve carbon neutrality to be a negative fact. In their Statement, the representatives of the Russian Socio-Ecological Union (RSoEU) consider it important to adopt a goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2050. They also emphasize the importance of being more ambitious for short-term goals: the adoption of a goal to reduce CO2 emissions by up to 50% by 2030 from the 1990 level without taking into account absorption by forests and a separate goal for forest conservation.

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