President Putin has finally admitted Russia has been facing environmental and climate-related issues for years. A REGNUM correspondent reported that the President made this admission on July 13 at a meeting of the Council for Strategic Development and National Projects.
Konstantin Romanov, head of the department for prospective development of Gazprom, said at a conference call for investors that Gazprom took part in public discussions organized by the European Commission on the draft hydrogen strategy.
“We believe that it is successful, since the proposals that we made – the use of methane pyrolysis for the production of low-carbon hydrogen – are also included in the already published EU strategy. And hydrogen produced from natural gas has both economic and environmental benefits. It can be produced without CO2 emissions, “he said.
Sakhalin Oblast intends to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The government of the island region signed an agreement on the preparation and implementation of relevant projects with the Institute of Global Climate and Ecology named after Academician Yu. A. Izrael.
This scientific institution studies climate change and monitors the environment. At the same time, special attention is paid to the study of the impact of human activity on the atmosphere, as well as the search for ways to prevent various types of environmental pollution.
During the Russian Business Week 2020 conference in September, there was a discussion about the results of a sociological study of Russian attitudes towards the problem of Climate Change, challenges of cross-border carbon regulation, regulatory measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, measures to adapt the Russian economy, and business activities of companies to changing climatic conditions.
VEB.RF, the Ministry of Economy and the Central Bank have prepared recommendations on green financing and a description of projects that can receive it. The emergence of green financing national standards not only launches a market for preferential financing of environmentally oriented projects in the Russian Federation, but also opens up potential access for Russian players to the international green bond market (the volume of which is estimated at $350 billion in 2020). However, some areas of the new national standards are not considered environmentally friendly by international investors, which may complicate global fundraising efforts.
The Ministry of Economy proposed an updated plan to improve energy efficiency, presenting a new goal of reducing the energy intensity of GDP by 2030 to 35% less than the level in 2017. This goal would be achieved with the help of modern technologies in the energy sector, transport and housing and communal services.
Climate programs—What programs were started, increased, completed?
Together with other organizations and experts in September, 2020 Greenpeace Russia wrote a proposal for the Russian Green Deal. They demanded that the Russian Government take the necessary decisions to advance climate protection, “green” economic recovery, and a real transition to an environmentally friendly path of development (with the achievement of zero net greenhouse gas emissions by 2050).
It describes the rules for implementing projects to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and the circulation of carbon units in the Russian Federation, which, according to the authors, will create conditions for green investments and reduce the carbon footprint of Russian products. Experts welcome the appearance of the document but talk about the need for a full-fledged national carbon regulation system.
Six Portuguese environmental activists, aged 12 to 21, have filed a lawsuit with the European Court of Human Rights. They demand that 33 countries, including Russia, be held accountable for climate change on the planet. The two plaintiffs live in Lisbon, a city facing flooding due to rising sea levels, while the rest are from the centre of the country, where forest fires have become more frequent lately. Activists believe that governments are not making enough efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, which they believe have led to climate change.
This research series was produced by participants in the Arctic Energy working group at the Energy Center of the Moscow School of Management SKOLKOVO. This group was formed in September 2018 from the graduates of the SKOLKOVO-2018 Energy Summer School who expressed a desire to continue group projects after graduation from the Summer School.
Participants performed all studies in their personal capacity, regardless of their official qualifications, on a completely voluntary and unselfish basis. The team independently developed a research plan and prepared all the materials. The study is divided into three parts.
The warming in the regions of permafrost is becoming one of the main threats to the infrastructure of the largest corporations, analysts of Morgan Stanley Bank believe, and may significantly affect their financial performance in the future. The risk is most urgent for Gazprom, Novatek, Norilsk Nickel, and Alrosa analysts say. The diesel spill in Norilsk has raised the issue of climatic risks for Russian raw materials companies, says Morgan Stanley’s analytical note on Russian raw materials markets.
The bank conducted a stress test for the largest Russian raw material companies and assessed the potential impact of warming in permafrost regions on financial performance and dividend payments in 2022. The document emphasizes that Gazprom produces over 90% of gas in permafrost regions, Novatek Production is concentrated in Yamal, Norilsk Nickel and Alrosa generates over 90% of EBITDA in the regions of permafrost.
“Climatic changes in the permafrost regions, which account for about 60% of the territory of Russia, lead to emissions of large volumes of methane and carbon dioxide, reduce soil stability and pose risks to infrastructure,” says Morgan Stanley.
BCG’s study “The Staggering Value of Forests and How to Conserve Them” finds the current value of the world’s forests to be some $50-150 trillion, and Russian forests in particular to be worth $4-17 trillion (128% of the current value of oil reserves at the lower end of estimates). The assessment in the research methodology is based on the influence of forests on climate. By 2050, the world’s forests may lose 30% of their value, mainly due to deforestation for agronomic needs and expected climatic changes, Russian forests – 10% due to inefficient use.
The authors analyzed the sources of water pollution in cities, methods of pollution control and methods of purifying drinking water. Journalists studied state programs aimed at improving water quality in Russian cities – what is planned, what has been done, and what has not yet been achieved. One of the authors made a virtual tour of the Volga cities in order to understand the problems facing the inhabitants of cities located on the largest waterway of the country. Also, experts discussed the issues surrounding “using” riverbanks and considered the problem of bank protection – in cities around the world and in Russia.
The Civil Society Review on the SDG implementation in Russia was compiled by the Coalition for Sustainable Development of Russia (CSDR) with the support of the communication project +1 (Plus-one.ru). The authors of the review analyzed the current situation in the field of each of the SDG’s and prepared recommendations to the state and civil society on their achievements. Communication project +1 prepared an appendix to the review with best practices on the SDG implementation in Russia “From challenges to Solutions. Cases of the SDG’s in Russia.”
Siberian summer of extreme weather events
During Summer of 2020 Siberia saw a series of very serious and damaging weather events caused, in part, by global climatic changes. In the Khanty-Mansiysk Autonomous Okrug, a state of emergency was declared due to wildfires as several cities were threatened by the flames back in July. Alarmingly, temperatures that month hovered between 31-33 degrees Celsius for several days, much higher than the average for this time of year.
The prolonged heat wave in Siberia stoked wildfires throughout the region. According to the Russian Forestry Service, as of July 2, wildfires covered an area of around 3 million hectares—most of them in Yakutia, Chukotka and Magadan regions. Environmental activists say this is an increase of 37% in just one year.
Fires ravaged areas commonly used for logging activities; Yakutia, especially, endured troubling wildfire circumstances. For several days, residents were forced to breathe in heavy smoke while a cyclone in the North of Siberia ushered fires throughout the republic.
A temperature record was set in Verkhoyansk, where on June 20 the air temperature reached the highest in the history (+32C°) of systematic observations of weather and climate in the Arctic region.
As for Western Siberia, in mid-July the cloud of smoke from the fires in Ugra spread to other regions, in particular, to the Tyumen region. Smog clouds also reached Omsk, Tomsk and Novosibirsk.
The abnormal weather is caused by changing air currents over Russia, German physicist Anders Levermann warned in an interview with DW. He called on Russians to join the fight against global warming.
“Heat waves in summer have always existed, but now, with climate change accelerating, they’re becoming longer and more frequent,” Alexey Kokorin, the head of the Climate and Energy program at WWF Russia told the Moscow Times in an interview.
The hot Siberian summer comes on the heels of the hottest winter since 1891, according to the Russian State Meteorological Service, with average temperatures in what used to be one of the coldest regions of the world hitting 6 C. The country as a whole is seeing a temperature increase 2.5 times higher than the global average with Arctic ice cover retreating and thawing of permafrost says a 2019 report.
This abnormal heat in Siberia would be practically impossible without the impact of human activity on the state of the Earth’s climate. This conclusion was reached by a group of scientists from Russia, Great Britain, the Netherlands, Germany, France and Switzerland, whose research results were posted on July 15th on the website of a scientific association called World Weather Attribution. Such prolonged periods of heat in normal circumstances occur extremely rarely – once every 130 years. The use of various forecasting models and the results of previous observations showed that the average temperature in the above-mentioned region should have been two degrees lower if the heatwave had come in 1900. In Siberia, in 2050, the average temperature will be 2.5 degrees higher than in 1900, but it may even turn out to be seven degrees higher.
The heat wave also allowed insects that feed on trees to thrive, upsetting the natural balance. A study of around 150,000 hectares of forests found more than 50 Siberian silkworms per tree, up from the usual numbers of 30-40 per square meter.
Extreme and dangerous heat in Krasnodar
In the last weeks of summer heat in large cities of Russia, Krasnodar was the undisputed leader. Approximately every third day during August, the heat stress hazard index for humans (it is also accepted scientifically to call it Physiologically Equivalent Temperature [PET] – or, to put it quite simply, the “perceived” temperature) is in the zone of “extreme heat stress” in this city in the south of Russia.
Simply put, conditions are being created on the streets of the city equivalent to a middle-aged person being in an unconditioned room with an air temperature above 41 degrees Celsius without air movement. According to an experimental calculation technology, around 12 pm on September 2, this “perceived temperature” rose to 50.1 degrees C.
In the next 10 years Russia will lose one of the countries in the Asian market for coal. Japan intends to close the 100 least efficient coal-fired power plants by 2030, Kyodo reports. In 2019, Russia exported 20 million tons of coal worth $ 1.9 billion to Japan.
Experts from KPMG presented three scenarios for the introduction of the European climate tax (proposed in July, 2020) for goods supplied from Russia. Under the base case, Russian exporters will pay € 33.3 billion in 2025–2030. The parameters of the tax that the EU may impose on imported “dirty” goods with a large carbon footprint are not yet clear. But for Russia, this is a significant issue. According to KPMG, Europe is the largest sales region for Russian goods, accounting for 46% of exports. In 2019, Russia exported products worth $189 billion to EU countries.
In the report “How the EU border carbon levy can affect world trade”, BCG consultants report that the most significant losses from the introduction of such regulations will be incurred by Russian exporters – Russia ranks second after China in carbon-intensive supplies to the EU. BCG analysts expect the introduction by the European Union of a tax at the level of $ 30 per ton at the end of 2021 – early 2022. This will affect not only carbon-intensive supplies (in 2019, Russian exports to the EU amounted to $ 180 billion, or 42% of its total volume), but also indirectly all sectors of the Russian economy.
Russia’s economic development minister warned last week that the EU’s plans to deploy a carbon tax at the bloc’s borders that will not be in line with World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules, just as Brussels doubled down on the idea of green tariffs.
Maxim Reshetnikov said that Moscow “is extremely concerned by attempts to use the climate agenda to create new barriers”, following a meeting of the BRICS emerging economy nations on July 23rd.
“We see a danger in this, including in the initiative to create a carbon adjustment mechanism that could essentially turn into new duties,” the minister said, referring to the European Commission’s plans to deploy a carbon border tax. The anti-climate-dumping tool – still under design – would slap additional levies on imported goods that are manufactured in an unsustainable way, in order to boost domestic production and give offshore industries an incentive to go green.
The uncertainty of the parameters of the future EU carbon tax mechanism makes it impossible to reliably assess the possible losses of Russian companies supplying their products to the markets of the EU countries. The Ministry is in constant contact with Russia’s EU partners. The last time in a bilateral format, this topic was raised at the meeting of Minister Maxim Reshetnikov with the Head of the European Union Delegation to Russia Markus Ederer in early July.
If introduced, the border carbon corrective mechanism should be non-discriminatory, WTO compliant and not impede mutual trade. This approach is supported by other WTO members, including China and the United States.
Norilsk Nickel wreaks environmental havoc
Thawing permafrost has also been blamed for a massive diesel spill from a storage tank owned by a subsidiary of metals giant Norilsk Nickel in May. While the company has said melting permafrost weakened the tank’s supports, Greenpeace says Nornickel is trying to “avoid responsibility” by blaming climate change rather than its failure to modernize its infrastructure.
Following the diesel spill, which released over 20,000 metric tons of fuel into a Siberian river, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Victoria Abramchenko ordered the authorities to evaluate environmental risks for industrial facilities in the Arctic. Nornickel has said it will carry out regular monitoring of the state of production facilities in connection with melting permafrost. A number of other oil, gas and metals companies, including Gazprom, have also started paying more attention to the impact of climate change in Arctic and Siberian regions.
In Taimyr, at the Norilsktransgaz enterprise (part of the Norilsk Nickel company), when pumping aviation fuel from a barge near the village of Tukhard, a pipeline depressurization occurred. As a result, 44.5 tons of aviation fuel spilled onto the ground.
On August 7, in Norilsk, oil products got into the Ambarnaya River again. This time, a flexible pipeline burst through and employees of the Polytech organization, invited by Norilsk Nickel to eliminate the consequences of the accident at TPP-3, pumped the fuel-water mixture from the tanks. As a result, oil products spilled onto the soil and got into the reservoir. In “Polytech” they say that the volume of the spill is 1 cubic meter, but environmental groups could not confirm this. Their employees were not informed, and they learned about the accident from the Ministry of Emergencies.
The Russian energy holding company Inter RAO has included in its new development strategy until 2030 possible investments in renewable energy sources, which it has thus far bypassed. The holding’s board of directors approved a new strategy, which replaced the one from 2014.Among the main directions are investments in the modernization of existing and construction of new power units, mergers and acquisitions, business diversification, including a possible entry into renewable energy, the company said.
In Russia, Inter RAO has practically no green projects in its portfolio, and the company avoided participating in the fight for the right to build renewable energy sources though state supported- based on annual auctions, which expire in 2024. In 2018. The company received offers to enter wind power generation, but did not agree with technological and financial partners and refused to participate in the competition. The management of Inter RAO said that after 2024 investments in renewable energy sources are not interesting.
Now Inter RAO lists renewable energy as one of the investment areas of up to 1 trillion rubles of accumulated investment resource, where it wants to spend on development by 2030.
The summer of 2020 has been the hottest on record in most of Siberia. While the high temperatures have meant warm and sunny days, they have also resulted in the spread of dramatic wildfires throughout the Russian Far East and a disastrous oil spill that polluted local rivers and groundwater with some 21,000 tonnes of oil. While Russia’s position straddling the Arctic Circle has made it uniquely suited to take advantage of the changing global climate, the country is also especially vulnerable to climate change’s ravages.
Which elements of climate change pose the greatest threat to Russia and its ecosystems? What are the primary strategic ends and considerations of the Russian government in confronting environmental issues? And how has the rest of Russian society engaged with climate change? In this webinar the panellists discussed the pressing environmental and climate challenges facing Russia, and the perception of and response to them by the Russian state and Russian society more broadly.
Activity Rating: *** Right Direction
Dear Greenpeace Russia,
We here at Climate Scorecard would like to congratulate you with and thank you for coming up with such a thought-provoking foundation for the “Russian Green Deal”, a real call to action to change the course the country is on through well-balanced arguments and robust scientific evidence. Hopefully, this will be the wake up call the government so sorely needed and the eloquent laying out of a solid strategy will demonstrate that taking urgent action is actually not as difficult or costly (in the long run) as many might think.
Contact: Greenpeace Russia
Address: 125040, Moscow, Leningradsky Prospekt, 26/1
Telephone: +7 495 9887460
This Post was submitted by Climate Scorecard Russia Country Manager Maria Stambler
Photo credit: vitimzap.bodaibo