Official Russian discourse hiding planned carbon emissions

August 18th, 2009: At the negotiations now taking place in Bonn Russia repeated the statement concerning the planned emissions reduction by 10-15% until 2020 compared to the 1990 level. Current emissions are 33 to 34% lower than those of 1990, thus the so-called “reduction” of 10 to 15% from the same level actually means the overall increase of emissions.

Another number voiced out was “30 billion tons of СО2 equivalent” total emission reduction during 30 years starting from 1990. Translated, that means that in the period from 2013 to 2020 the average emissions level will be 21% lower than that of 1990. But the number of 30 billion tons may only be achieved in case the reduction of at least 15% takes place.

Below 20, N17: This Wednesday became a sort of the Day of Russia at the negotiations. At the AWG-KP session dedicated to emissions reduction goals in various countries, Sergey Tulinov, head of the Russian delegation, repeated the Russian president’s statement concerning the reduction of emissions by 10-15% (from 1990 level) to 2020. The speech drew great attention and was received with ambiguity. Out of 3 hours of the session 40 minutes were taken to discuss Russian affairs, while the number of the countries represented at the meeting was around 200.

Apart from the numbers, other top priorities such as energy efficiency, energy saving and diversification of economy were stated.

Sweden inquired about the current level of emissions in Russia and the answer was “33-34% down from the level of 1990”. Talking about the possible ways to reduce in Russia it became clear that Russia is going to execute such plans of economic growth which will undoubtedly lead to the increase of carbon emissions and no deviation from the baseline scenario is in view.

Bolivia decided to put it forward, that Russia is the only Annex 1 country that is going to increase emissions in the next period instead of reducing them. To the question about the peak of emissions came an honest answer – that it is not known exactly, but well after 2020.

So, in view of these developments what can be expected of the developing countries when even an Annex 1 country is clearly sabotaging the global effort to reduce carbon emissions?

What do 30 billion tons mean?

Aside from the midterm commitments (to reduce emissions by 10-15% until 2020 from the 1990 level), another number that was announced was “30 billion tons of CO2 equivalent” which was supposed to mean the total emissions reduction in the period from 1990 to 2020, translated into the mass of emissions avoided. This would also mean that on average in 2013-2020 the level of emissions will be 21% lower than that of 1990. This number also undermines the official reduction goals, because “30 bln tons” may only be achieved if the reduction of at least 15% takes place. It is far from the recommended 25-40%, but way better than the shameful 10% goal.

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