This report is in the form of memos from Climate Scorecard Country Managers to Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework to Combat Climate Change (UNFCCC). Below is a description of the progress the country has made made in mitigating greenhouse gas emissions since the Paris Agreement was signed in 2015 and the challenges they still face in order to comply with the IPCC goal of reducing emissions by 50% by 2030.
To: Patricia Espinosa
Subject: Climate Scorecard Progress Report for Russian Federation
From: Michael Oshchepkov
Climate Scorecard Russia Country Manager
I serve as Climate Scorecard Country Manager for Russia and would like to offer you the following climate mitigation progress report from the perspective of my organization.
Since its initial 2015 pledge to the Paris Agreement, Russia has made good progress in meeting the goal of reducing emissions by 50% by 2030.
On the positive side, the Russian Federation has accomplished the following:
- Russia signed the Paris agreement on climate change in 2015 and ratified it in September 2019. Despite the fact that Russia was easily able to meet the agreement’s requirement of reducing its emissions by 30%of 1990 levels, ratification means that decarbonization had become a priority for the country.
- Then, in his April 2021 address to the Federal Assembly, President Vladimir Putin, for the first time, referred to dealing with environmental and climate issues as a priority for the country’s development. After that, the Russian President ordered the government to formulate a plan for reducing Russia’s greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 as well as for making the Russian economy less carbon intensive. In July 2021, he signed the long-awaited law limiting greenhouse gas emissions, which had been under discussion since November 2018. The law means that all enterprises whose work produces significant emissions will be obliged to record them, and the data used to monitor whether emissions targets are being met. For the first time ever, the initiative introduces the necessary conceptual framework for such concepts as “greenhouse gases”, “carbon footprint”, “climate projects”, “carbon units”, etc.
- An experiment to reduce CO2 emissions in the Sakhalin Oblast is also to be launched shortly, intended as a pilot project to test the concept of a national CO2 trading system. As part of the approved roadmap for conducting this experiment, it is planned for the first time in Russia to create a carbon trading system and ensure the achievement of carbon neutrality in the region by 2025.
- Currently Russian officials are also actively working on the development of green bonds to finance climate projects in the country. Large Russian banks with state participation are already successfully testing this mechanism.
However, the following conditions still exist in Russia and threaten its ability to make further progress as well as reach the important goal of reducing emissions by 50% by 2030:
- Today, because of the profound transformation of the Soviet economy, Russian emissions account for only 50% of the 1990 level. In this situation, Russian regulators believe they have no serious reason to introduce additional regulation of greenhouse gas emissions and stimulate green technologies. Due to the absorptive capacity of forests and the low carbon intensity of the electricity industry, the country can easily fulfill its earlier obligations without any special efforts. However UNFCCC and others say that using forest sequestration does not allow for countries to escape their responsibilities for reducing their industrial emissions
- Despite the largest wind and solar technical potential in the world, the share of wind and solar electricity in the balance of the UES of Russia in 2020 amounted to only 0.32%. So far, Russia’s position on green energy boils down to the mantra “we have great potential.” However, the promising areas are in their infancy. The government believes that main task of the state remains to ensure the sustainability of hydrocarbon and carbon-intensive exports, rather than a fundamental green transformation of the economy. This is a practice that is unsustainable from a climate change perspective and it is a climate challenge that Russia needs to address. It poses a threat to the Russia’s net zero future.
- Despite the surge of interest in the green agenda in Russia, it cannot be said with any confidence that the Russian Federation is ready to progress from bold statements to real measures in tackling climate change, nor that the climate agenda could lead to more constructive cooperation between Russia and other countries. The current debates over the EU carbon border adjustment mechanism (CBAM) are the first examples of potential conflict in this area.
Climate Scorecard is committed to working with other like-minded organizations to support the Russian Federation to make further progress in its effort to reduce emissions by 50% by 2030 and help the Paris Agreement reach its important goals.
Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions about this report or need further information.