Carbon Intensity for Governors

The system of data reporting on emissions acquires particular urgent imperative: after ratification of the Paris Climate Agreement, Russia will have to develop new regulating measures in this sphere of activities. Until recently, reporting of the kind in Russia was voluntary and carried out in accordance with regulations adopted by the RF Ministry of Nature in March 2015. Nowadays, national documents regulating activities of federal bodies, regional authorities, and enterprises should be harmonized with the goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions set by the Paris Agreement.

As Kommersant reported referring to a source in the Ministry of Economy, the Department is planning to turn the carbon intensity index of regional GDP into one of the indicators of governors’ activities efficiency.

Let us remind that the basis for achieving emission reduction goals is the Concept of Formation of the Greenhouse Gas Monitoring, Reporting, and Auditing System was adopted in the April of the previous year.

It was followed by the Order of the Russian Federation Government № 716-r of 22.04.2015 on approving the Concept of Formation of the Greenhouse Gas Monitoring, Reporting, and Auditing System in RF and the Order of the RF Government N 807-r of 06.05.2015 “On Introduction of Amendments to the Order of the RF Government N 504-r of 02.04.2014.” The documents mandate “the executive authorities of the Russian Federation Subjects to identify the standard year, carry out an inventory of greenhouse gas emissions for at least several recent years (5 - 7 years), analyze the dynamics of emissions as compared to the standard year, identify the major factors of amount variations, and establish the target index for emission reduction up until 2020, for the period till 2030-35, and for the long term till 2050.”

It is assumed that the documents will facilitate establishment of legal mechanisms for stimulation in the Federation Subjects. These mechanisms should be focused on reduction of the greenhouse gas emissions and allow to establish responsibility of CEOs of companies operating within Russia. Formation of the data reporting system in Russia is scheduled on a phased basis. So far, laws are mostly focused on companies’ responsibility. However, gradual involvement of regions is supposed. The first stage is meant for approbation of methodical recommendations in several pilot regions. The state’s policy to focus on regions is absolutely justified. This is the way many states have already gone.

Russian regions have a huge potential for reduction of greenhouse gas emissions; however, most of them are not ready to meet new requirements; representatives of public environmental organizations are sure about this. “Regions have no understanding what climate actions are. It would have been good if clarifying methodical documents had appeared along with the new responsibilities, thus helping regional governments,” Olga Senova, Climate Secretariat of the Russian Social Ecological Union, says. The Russian Social Ecological Union came up with an overview of events in the RF Subjects on executing the RF Climate Doctrine. According to the 2014-2015 studies, occasional inventory of emissions had been carried out only in ten Russian regions. One of the core problems in realization of the Climate Doctrine for regions, according to an RSEU’s survey, is lack of financing along with insufficient competency of regional bodies and information dissociation between the state bodies and structures.

Steps on executing climate policies at the level of regions could be the following: inventorying of greenhouse gas emissions, creation of regional climate programs and projects in specific spheres (e.g., enhancement of energy efficiency of buildings, low-carbon transport projects, renewable energy sources, etc.) and development of adaptation measures. Establishment of a regional market of emission quotas is also possible though this way could be justified only as an additional measure in case if an enterprise has already accomplished all available measures for reducing emissions vs. buying quotas instead of its own low-carbon activities.

All above-mentioned is absolutely realistic in Russian regions, experts are sure. Regional initiatives in the Voronezh Region are a bright example of this. Prerequisites for implementing a market of quotas have already been established there in practice. The start of these activities was given by an Administration Head’s Order which approved a unified book on “Protection of the Atmosphere and Maximum Permissible City Emissions.” An electronic data base on emissions of the full list of substances emitted into the city atmosphere by more than 500 objects of natural resource use and major city arterial roads was created. An Order of the City Mayor introduced a system of limitations, i.e., emissions quotas. Certain restrictions were established for 20 enterprises under condition of obligatory control at the sources of contamination. The principle in action is: an enterprise gets a temporarily agreed permission for emissions for a particular period only (usually, no more than for 3 years). After this, emission restrictions are established with obligatory control. Further development might result in establishing an emission exchange house within the City Committee for a particular list of substances and their amounts or an exchange house for enterprises selling and buying emission quotas.

In the opinion of experts, lack of clear national strategy and policies creates obstacles for realization of programs and measures countering climate changes at the regional level. Participation in voluntary data reporting should be giving advantages to the participants. If major emitters do not join the process, the plans for emission reduction will be at risk. Besides, state-supported programs with real targeted financing should be also working.