20 Dec 2019 12:46

Russia must be active in climate dialog, prevent discrimination against its exporters - minister

MOSCOW. Dec 20 (Interfax) - Russian experts must be more actively involved in key working bodies of the United Nations on issues concerning climate change, considering the fact that Russia is now a full-fledged participant in the negotiation process on the climate agenda rather than an observer, Natural Resources and Environment Minister Dmitry Kobylkin said.

"This cooperation is extremely important, since we must precisely calculate and present the value of Russian forests. In my view, their contribution is now undervalued. In addition, we must understand the actual anthropogenic impact of production facilities, since, according to experts, there are possible risks of discriminatory measures against Russian exporters under the pretext of Paris Agreement requirements, and we can't allow this. We believe it is necessary to create a Russian negotiations office for work in international forums," Kobylkin told Interfax, commenting on Russia's current activities within the context of the Paris Agreement.

Russia joined the Paris Agreement in September 2019. However, the country is already meeting international obligations and even exceeding them, the minister said. For example, Russia was supposed to reduce emissions by at least 25% from the 1990 level by 2030 under a 2013 presidential decree to cut greenhouse gas emissions, but in 2017 Russia had already cut emissions by twice as much to 49%.

The Natural Resources Ministry has been working on a number of strategic documents for fulfilling the conditions of the Paris Agreement since 2016. They include a presidential decree to curb greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, a low emissions development strategy to 2050, and a federal bill on regulation of greenhouse gas emissions.

"Our colleagues have prepared such a bill. The main differences between representatives of industry, sectoral ministries and agencies and those responsible for the environment have now been resolved. The Natural Resources Ministry also generally supports the bill," Kobylkin said.

It is also necessary at this stage to develop a unified system for measuring and monitoring emissions and absorption of greenhouse gases, and conduct a careful inventory of emissions sources, he said.

Upon joining the Paris Agreement, Russia said that it will devote particular attention to increasing the absorption capabilities of forecasts, including clarification of calculation methods and determining the need for reforestation, Kobylkin said. Many international companies take on greater environmental obligations, including in tree planting, to reduce their carbon footprint, he said.

"Our companies, particularly exporters, are also interested in staying competitive. There are examples in Russia. Rusal has begun implementing the first voluntary forest and climate project in the country. It is proving protection from fires to more than 500,000 hectares of forest and has planted 1 million trees in Irkutsk Region and Krasnoyarsk Territory. Other companies are also being active," Kobylkin said.

"I particularly want to stress that the Environment national project will most facilitate the achievement of the goals of the global climate agenda. Under it, we are working on many areas at once: 'introduction of best available technologies,' 'clean air,' 'forest conservation,' and 'clean country.' All indicators not only affect the quality of life inside the country, but also have an impact on the improvement of the situation in general," Kobylkin said.