Leading Emission Reduction Challenges: (a) Problems in implementing existing climate change policies; (b) Dependence on fossil fuels as energy sources; (c) Changing peoples’ perceptions
Current Greenhouse Gas Emission Levels
As a Party to the Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol, the Russian Federation developed and regularly updates its national inventory of greenhouse gas emissions. The national Status Inventory Reports and detailed statistical information on GHG emissions and removals in the special reporting format are annually submitted through the UNFCCC secretariat and published on the official UNFCCC site. The latest Status Inventory Report and the common report with all GHG emissions from all inventory sectors, implied emission factors and activity data will be submitted in 2016 (for the year of 2014).
It shall be noted that, compared to the baseline situation in 1990, total GHG emissions in 2013 were down by 28.6% (or by 42.8% including the removals from land use, land use change and forestry). Figure 1 below demonstrates the overall trend of changes in GHG emissions year by year. The first long period of a general downward trend of emissions happened during the 1990–98 period in all the sectors and was linked with the negative dynamics of the general economic situation in the country. During the following years of economic growth, GHG emissions increased gradually at a modest pace through 2008. An economic crisis in 2008-2009 led to a small decrease in emissions in 2009 followed by a minor upcoming trend in 2011-2012 resulting from recovering industrial activity. It dropped slightly again in 2013 (by 1.3% in comparison with the previous year, excluding removals) and the current understanding is that 2014-2015 did not bring any meaningful increase in emissions.
Picture 1. Total GHG emissions (mln. t CO2e) in the Russian Federation excluding (1) and including (2) the emissions and removals from land use, land use change and forestry.
Emission Reduction Challenges
The main drivers for the GHG emissions in the RF are the overall economic trends (increase or decrease of gross domestic product, GDP), changes in GDP structure, changes in fuel balance and at some point annual temperature variations from year to year and the respective changes in energy consumption.
There are several issues that prevent an easy way forward with decreasing the GHG emissions in Russia. These include:
- Fossil fuels are accessible and relatively low priced in the RF;
- The country economy is based on energy-consuming industries with heavy and partially old technologies;
- There are no state restrictions or limitations for GHG emissions though the first steps in creating the state regulation tool as well as developing instruments for accounting and reporting have been undertaken;
- Insufficient information in the society on climate change issues and the extent climate change is influencing the climate in Russia;
- The current slowdown in the national economy spurs energy intensive business sectors to oppose climate-related regulatory measures that they consider may prevent them recovering growth, and leaves less opportunities for investment needed for upgrading technologies.
The main issues in this list are the first two points but they can’t be resolved without progress on points 3 and 4. Therefore, at the moment the key actions from the government are aimed at the development of a national strategy on climate change, improvement of state regulations on GHG accounting and reporting, identifying the approaches for reducing and putting appropriate limitations on GHG emission amounts for the industry. In addition, there is a growing recognition among various stakeholders that climate change is and will affect Russia more strongly than it was believed before. There are a number of NGOs and consulting and research organizations who are helping the community to understand climate change issues and trends in Russia. They disseminate relevant information and are involved in discussions at the national level.
During the last decades, Russia’s development history demonstrates the effectiveness of good pilot projects and successful case studies. Therefore, national experts believe that the results of the current first small wave of renewable energy projects in Russia will lead towards the wider use of renewables such as biomass, wind and solar energy, etc.
–Submitted by Climate Scorecard Country Manager Elena Zaika