About the climate "matrioshka" of the future agreement

The UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said at the Climate Forum in Doha that he will bring together world leaders in advance for negotiating the agreement of 2015, because he is afraid of a repetition of Copenhagen. What should be the climate process in the future and what place may Russia take in it?

According to Michail Yulkin, the head of the Working group on climate of Environmental Committee with the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs, Russia is now in the company of Japan, Canada and New Zealand. The same informal group may include the United States, which were not parties to the Kyoto Protocol (KP) and took no formal commitments to reduce emissions. According to the expert, Russia looks silly in this company, because, in contrast to the above-mentioned countries, it would not lose anything by joining Kyoto-2, but would even have acquisitions. "Russia could safely take the commitment of 65% of 1990" - says M. Yulkin. – “Instead, we refused to commit ourselves in the second period of the KP 2 and announced our intention to take internal commitments to limit and reduce emissions under the UNFCCC at the level of 15-25% below 1990 level. We surprised no one with this "bold" decision, and lost the quotas left over from the KP first period (almost 6 billion tons), together with the access to the carbon market and the ability to implement projects under the Kyoto Protocol ...".

The so long argued quotas transfer is still allowed, but with some limitations. After adoption of the resulting conference documents, a number of major countries participating in the second period have announced that they are not going to buy credits carried over from the first period. As a result, Russia is unlikely to sell them by 2020.

However, the key question of the current phase of the climate process is the financial one: how developed countries can help developing countries to organise effective reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. Here we must note that Russia, Belarus and Ukraine are outside the process. These countries are no longer recipients of international aid, and are far away from the status of the main global donors. However, Russia has announced earlier that the country will render climate assistance on a voluntary basis, independently choosing beneficiaries, primarily among the CIS developing countries.

The Russian delegation repeatedly justified the loss of JI in Russia by suggesting possible replacement options for bilateral cooperation. In Doha, Japan raised attention to the issue, having declared its intention to deploy a large-scale system of bilateral cooperation with developing countries, the Joint Carbon Mechanism counting many tens of billions of dollars. However, no consensus was reached; the collision of two concepts with respect to any multilateral or bilateral arrangements happened. The first concept advocated by developing countries requires approval of any mechanism by the Conference of Parties. According to the second concept supported by the U.S., Japan and other developed countries, only compliance with previously established standards is needed.

However, according to some experts, Russia should not hope for bilateral cooperation, because there is no queue of those eager to develop partnership with us yet. In any case, introduction of international cooperation to reduce emissions may take several years. On the other hand, each country, for example, Russia or Belarus, shall have own national pilot systems that meet relevant standards, in order to take part in such a co-operation. Alexei Kokorin, the head of the Climate and Energy Programme with WWF Russia, says: "This is not a quick process, so it must start now. Some positive experience is already available, and not only in countries far away, like China, South Korea, etc., but among our neighbours in Kazakhstan."

The WWF representative thinks that the ideal scenario at the international level could be a framework agreement for 2020 - 2030. That is, the expert proposes to insert another universal "matrioshka” into the existing framework convention. There is a good chance for a combination of new market and non-market mechanisms, global, bilateral and multilateral ones. Also, there may be a place for detailed reporting and control, both for emissions and financial flows. Experts propose the approach of a long-term "carbon budget" (the country's total emissions, for example, during 1990 – 2030) as the format for commitments. For the CIS countries it would reflect their contribution to the global process of emission reductions introduced in the 1990s due to the recession. In addition, this approach would negate the discussion on the transfer of unused emission reduction units from the first and second commitment periods of the Kyoto Protocol in the future actions after 2020. The expert says: "The new market and non-market mechanisms shall in no way include the unused Kyoto units; this can make it considerably difficult to involve Russian participants in the mechanisms."

Russian officials have repeatedly stated that the country will take part in the global effort to reduce emissions, only if the two major pollutants - China and the U.S. - will also be as actively involved. Due to its position in the negotiations, Russia has found itself in the company of the United States, but not in the "camp" dreamed about by representatives of the environmental community. However, our country went down from third place to fourth one, behind India, in CO2 emissions in energy sector and industry. Adding the data on timbering, Brazil is also ahead of us. Russia's contribution to global emissions reduced down to 3%...

Russian public and business still have to realise the results of the climate conference in 2012: get accustomed to losses and to absence of acquisitions. Hopefully, despite the loss of JI and modest commitments, Russia will become a real climate donor, not only because of its forests and past economic crises, but due to real action to reduce emissions. Let there be a surprise for everyone: carbon markets, energy efficiency and renewable energy coming out of a Russian climate matrioshka.