European Commission: Russia and Ukraine should not trade "hot air"

Rashid Alimov

In the report «International climate policy post-Copenhagen» (pdf) published yesterday, the supreme executive authority of the European Union opposes transfer of unused emission quotas from the Kyoto Protocol period (2008-2012) to the period, which will be regulated by the new agreement.

Under the Kyoto Protocol, countries, which managed to achieve greater emission reductions than required by the Protocol, may sell surplus reductions as emission permits (quotas) to other countries. The situation in Russia and the rest of the post-Soviet space, where a significant reduction in emissions occurred due to industrial collapse, rather than because of special efforts to reduce emissions, is called 'hot air'.

For a long time, the ability to sell 'hot air' was seen in Russia as an argument for ratifying the Kyoto Protocol. Russia ratified the agreement in 2004. However, if this significant number of emission quotas would be thrown to the market, price of emission permits would falls, and incentives for other countries to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases would be undermined. During Copenhagen negotiations, Russian delegation already made a statement that Russia does not insist on the transfer of possibility to sell Kyoto period "hot air" to the period of the new agreement.

The European Commission report also notes that the emission reduction commitments made by nations in Copenhagen, are not sufficient.

The current climate targets from the developed countries cut emissions of greenhouse gases by between 13.2 and 17.8 percent in 2020 compared with 1990 levels. This is well below the recommendations of the UN to cut emissions by 25-40 percent. Meanwhile, according to the European Commission, if Russian and Ukrainian possibility to sell "hot air", as well as other existing Kyoto Protocol loopholes are not closed in the new climate agreement, this could result in developed country emissions to rise by 2,6 percent in 2020 with the current pledges.

Russian Socio-Ecological Union supports the efforts aimed to eliminate from the future climate agreement the possibilities of emission reductions made on paper, not leading to real changes. In particular, RSEU insists that "hot air" from the Kyoto Protocol should not be transferred to the post-Kyoto period.