Spotlight Activity: Russia Policy Recommendations
Despite the rising public awareness and concern of climate impacts and the increasing international pressure to act on reducing carbon emissions, many of the world’s top-10 emitters’ commitments and actions to and in support of the 2030 objectives of the Paris Agreement (maintaining emissions below levels contributing to a 1.5 degree Celsius global warming tipping point) are woefully under-achieving among the countries that also lead the global economy.
The Russian Federation is among this group, designated as ‘Critically Insufficient’, according to its current projected emissions level that will contribute to a 4 degree Celsius world (see Climate Action Tracker). Recent emissions calculations for the year 2030 (i.e. 2, 792 MT) suggest that Russia would need to establish policies and activities to reduce its emissions 1, 015 MT by that year in order to obtain the Paris Agreement’s objective: maintaining an average global climate warming tipping point of 1.5 degrees Celsius (Climate Action Tracker).
Russia’s “extreme weather events” have doubled since 1991, including flooding, massive forest fires and decreased resiliency for some of the country’s most iconic ecosystems such as Lake Baikal in addition to increased deterioration of infrastructure. Regarding economic viability, in 2016, Russia’s then-Minister of Natural Resources, Sergey Donskoy, told Rossiyskaya Gazeta that the country loses about “4-6 percent of its GDP annually due to environmental devastation”, as relayed again in Russia Beyond in 2018.
While these consequences are observed, acknowledged and recorded, the presiding priority is to build resilience and adaptive capacity to climate-related threats over prospects for reducing emissions.
The plan for ratification of the Paris Agreement (to be ratified this year), would provide for the preparation of a draft presidential decree on the approval of the goal of limiting GHG emissions by 2030. Ratification of the Paris Agreement will not necessarily amount to Russia fully contributing to a world below a 1.5 degree C increase in global climate as its emissions pledges for 2020 – 2030, and Russia (as of 2016) had emissions levels 30% below those recorded for 1990.
- Strengthening and Passing the Federal Law on State Regulation of Emissions and Absorption of Greenhouse Gases and on Amending Select Legislative Acts of the Russian Federation. Draft
Aside from the pending ratification of the Paris Agreement, a draft legislation by the Ministry of Economic Development (Federal Law on State Regulation of Emissions and Absorption of Greenhouse Gases and on Amending Select Legislative Acts of the Russian Federation. Draft. December 4, 2018), carries real agency for regulating on CO2 and greenhouse gas emissions defining a general scope and direction for emissions reductions.
The draft law has been negatively received by Russia’s Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs (UIE), which presented an “alternative ‘weaker’ piece of legislation” as the organization reported that it would not support the draft in its current form, as reported by Climate Home News.
However, Climate Scorecard believes that the draft Federal Law bears real promise for regulating CO2 and greenhouse gas emissions and that this first forward-thinking piece of legislation should not renege on its aims due to concerns of the UIE. We recommend that this draft law be passed but that it contains updated emissions reduction targets per sector and provide a framework for a carbon trading economy.
Ministry Concerned: Ministry of Economic Development
- Reinforcing National Adaptation Initiatives (such as ‘Ecologia’) Policies with Defined Mitigation Reduction Goals per Sector
The National Project – Ecologia / Экология programme (approved in 2018) – is targeted on air pollution reduction, reforestation and improving waste management and other sectors. Although it touches on various aspects, none of which directly relate to GHG emissions reductions.
While climate change consequences are already being observed and experienced in Russian communities, adaptation has been prioritized ahead of emissions mitigation. This is acceptable for the immediate and short-term. To work toward ensuring favorable development, economic and environmental situations in the future for Russians, the mid- and long-term scenarios for these sectors will ultimately depend on the degree to which global climate warming will disrupt plans and policies for advancing (or even maintaining) said sectors as well as lead to more variable future outcomes. Therefore, Russian policy makers must underscore the importance of acting on both climate adaptation (i.e. the current and anticipated consequences of climate change) alongside mitigation (the source of climate change) to safeguard its interests and communities.
Advisor and Special Representative to the President on Climate Issues, Ruslan Edelgeriyev, recently discussed the intention of the federal government of Russia to develop a federal law on the state regulation of greenhouse gas emissions as a long-term development strategy up to the year 2050, as reported in an interview by the Russian News Agency TASS. Further details were not discussed on this potential draft federal law.
Organizational Leads: Ministry of Environment in coordination with the Federal Service for Hydrometeorology and Environmental Monitoring and the Institute of Global Climate and Ecology.
- Incentivize Research, Development and Transition investments among Big Emitters
Even as Russia’s industrial sector has retracted greatly since the end of the Soviet Union, representing a huge dip in emissions since 1991 (1990 being the base year in international emissions calculations), the countries development of energies from fossil energy sources is contributing to negative climate impacts domestically and internationally. The tasks of the organizational leads below entails applying a variation of corporate responsibility on the major energy producers through an incentivized investment program to facilitate strategies for transitioning to renewable energy.
Additionally, fossil energy companies should be incentivized to invest in existing and new energy-producing technologies, setting a roadmap for the transition to high-impact carbon trading with its (Russia’s) traditional energy trade partners. Continuing to excuse itself from Paris Agreement ratification and not detailing more advanced emissions reduction pledges may mean a loss of competitiveness, unnecessary costs as well as being excluded in trade deals. Russia’s fossil energy companies have expressed that they stand to be at the greatest disadvantage when it comes to mitigation policies that have yet to be ratified and/or implemented. However, these companies are at, arguably, the most advantageous position for investing in new energy generating technologies from renewable resources.
Russia’s current processes leading up to the possible ratification of the Paris Agreement include the ongoing “stocktaking” of Russia’s forests and their capacity to absorb CO2, but, given the country’s current natural capital, wealth this should not be used to excuse stakeholders from acting on emissions reductions and the policies that are to reinforce a robust carbon market.
The main objective is to incentivize fossil energy companies to invest in existing and the new energy-producing technologies, setting a roadmap for transition to high-impact carbon trading with its (Russia’s) traditional energy trade partners.
Earlier this year and in late 2018, Russia’s fossil energy companies have expressed that they stand to be at the greatest disadvantage when it comes to mitigation policies yet to be ratified and/or implemented. However, this trajectory for future development is situated along the road ahead. Excluding itself from Paris Agreement Commitments may mean a loss of competitiveness, unnecessary costs as well as being excluded in trade deals. In a letter to the Environment Ministry on January 17, 2019, Alexander Shokhin, head of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs (RSPP), wrote that “Russian producers are interested in ratification (of the Paris Agreement)” as “the absence of national obligations and state regulation of activities to combat climate change may serve as a pretext for imposing economic restrictions on Russian companies”, also citing concerns over loss of competitiveness and unnecessary costs as reported in an article by Climate Home News.
This concern from the head of the RSPP represents a valuable leverage point for Russia to act towards becoming a boon in emissions mitigation as opposed to a burgeoning burden.
Organizational Leads: Ministry of Economic Development in collaboration with the Federal Service for Hydrometeorology and Environmental Monitoring.
- Implement a new carbon tax based on lessons learned from international efforts
Staying economically competitive and developing sustainably do not have to be mutually exclusive. Russia’s currently rich expanses of forests, flora and fauna are the currency of the future in addition to advances in technology and healthier urban environments. However, waiting to act on strengthening and safeguarding its investments for a ‘Green Economy’ risks depreciation of its inherited and developed assets. As mentioned earlier, Russia is already experiencing a wide and varied array of climate change consequences that are damaging infrastructure and deteriorating ecosystems. The longer Russia takes to act and treat emissions reductions as a priority, the more the country stands to lose out on a leadership role in a future economy where it can both trade credits domestically — through a carbon tax on fossil fuels — and internationally — through emissions trading system with enhanced development with perceived trade partners — with other countries behind the carbon curve.
A share of the funds received through the initiatives would support the policy initiative above (#3), and, more specifically: the carbon tax and credits could reinforce aims and development of mitigation initiatives, paired with adaptation strategies, as Russia is correct in emphasizing that the current state of affairs of climate change are present, requiring actions now to aid communities in coping with new-found situations.
As previous experience in attempting to implement carbon tax or emission trading, following the Kyoto Protocol and as reported by the Climate Action Network, Russian economic development specialist and environmental policymakers would be advised to maneuver around prior international shortcomings:
- Mutual Settlements on carbon quotas or disallowing the use of offsetting; i.e. there should be a focus on reducing emissions and not on mutual settlements between carbon quotas;
- Considering so-called environmental integrity issues in project evaluation for any international exchange of mitigation outcomes;
- Eliminating duplicated or (the double-entry) data in emissions accounting;
- International credit disbursement should complement ambitious actions at the national level.
Activity Rating: *** Right Direction
Please send the following message to the policymaker(s) below.
Dear Minister of Economic Development of the Russian Federation, Oreshkin Maxim Stanislavovich:
We recommend that your Ministry take the helm of strategically developing and backing policies that advance Russia’s mitigation efforts. Claiming success through minimally-intentional efforts to reduce emissions is not seen as the best means to ensure an economically viable and fruitful future. Updating the greenhouse gas emissions pledge of the Russian Federation to the Paris Agreement before November 2030 is to ensure that Russia’s efforts to further preserve its natural resources, adapt to current climate consequences through adaptation- and resilience-building measures, as well as assert its innovative potential.
However, this depends on your ministry’s support for updating the Paris Agreement pledge to reach a target of 1,015 MTCO2.
We recommend that you reinforce and communicate the strategic development and the passing of the draft Federal Law Federal Law on State Regulation of Emissions and Absorption of Greenhouse Gases and on Amending Select Legislative Acts of the Russian Federation. Draft in order to develop tactfully defined goals in order to reach the needed revision to the Paris Agreement Pledge of 1, 015 MTCO2.
Supplementing Russia’s current projection and emphasis on relying on carbon sequestration based on its expanse of natural resources, which respectfully need to be guarded with new synergies between mitigation and adaptation policies, are the following policy recommendations:
– Reinforcing National Adaptation Initiatives (such as ‘Ecologia’) Policies with Defined Mitigation Reduction Goals per Sector
Relying solely on adaptation policies and initiatives are not enough to stave off climate consequences and/or their intensification in the future. Adaptation actions need to be coupled with mitigation/GHG reduction efforts that are defined by clear, quantifiable goals per sector.
– Incentivize Research, Development and Transition investments among Big Emitters & Implement a new carbon tax based on lessons learned from international efforts
Critical planning for the establishment of Research and Development as well as Carbon-Market incentive mechanisms to bridge the interests of stakeholders as well as spur changes to the development and energy sectors are to be supported by these two recommended policies.
The time for your consideration and action on more impactful Emissions-reducing policies as well as the creation of incentive mechanisms is critical.
Send Action Alert Message to:
Oreshkin Maxim Stanislavovich
Phone: +7 945 870 86 39
Address: 1,3 1-ya Tverskaya-Yamskaya, Moscow
- Davydova, A. (2017). Russia wants to protect itself from climate change – without reducing carbon emissions. Science Magazine. https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2017/09/russia-wants-protect-itself-climate-change-without-reducing-carbon-emissions
- Malgavko, A. (2018). What dire consequences will global warming wreck on Russia and the world?. Russia Beyond. https://www.rbth.com/science-and-tech/329165-global-warming-russia-climate-change
- Mathiesen, K. (2018). EU says no new trade deals with countries not in Paris Agreement. Climate Home News. https://www.climatechangenews.com/2018/02/02/eu-difficult-imagine-trade-deals-countries-not-paris-agreement/
- Russian Socio-Ecological Union (2016). Carbon Tax as Instruments of Growth?. http://rusecounion.ru/eng_klimat_2616
- Sauer, N. & Collett-White, R, (2019). Russia floats first law to regulate CO2 emissions. Climate Home News. https://www.climatechangenews.com/2019/03/22/russia-floats-first-law-regulate-carbon-emissions/
- Sauer, N. (2019). Russia reviews ratification of Paris Agreement. Climate Home News. https://www.climatechangenews.com/2019/02/06/russia-reviews-ratification-paris-agreement/
- U.S. Russia Foundation (2018). The Effects of Climate Change in Russia. https://www.usrf.us/climate/
- Советник президента: в РФ создается отдельная сфера контроля выбросов парниковых газов (2019). TASS. https://tass.ru/interviews/6314042