Russia’s contribution to global efforts to contain climate change (full text of article by Ambassador Yakovenko for RBTH)

The world’s climate and weather patterns are changing. Global temperatures are rising, causing more extreme weather events, like flooding and heat waves. A potential threat of these global processes for the population and the economy of our countries remains a tangible one. Climate change is one of the gravest challenges humanity faces today.

 Over two weeks the world’s attention is focused on the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris. We are experiencing a pivot where we should shift from words to constructive solutions genuinely recognizing that there is a trend to worsening effects of global climate change. The Paris event, started by a formidable gathering of national leaders, gives us a unique opportunity to address this challenge by achieving a new climate agreement based on the principles of the UN Framework Convention.

 Russia is taking active measures to address global warming. The wide range of steps in the format of national programmes, laws and regulations, administrative procedures aimed at increasing Russia’s contribution to solve the climate problem includes the Climate doctrine of the Russian Federation and a comprehensive action plan for its implementation, the Presidential Decree on measures to improve energy and ecological efficiency of the Russian economy, the Federal Law on Energy Conservation, the 2030 Energy Strategy of Russia, the Presidential Decree “On the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions” and the Order of the Government of the Russian Federation for its implementation.

 We have more than fulfilled our obligations under the Kyoto Protocol. Through the implementation of our Energy Efficiency and Energy Sector Development programme we managed to improve our economy’s energy efficiency by a third over 2000-2012, and we expect to reach a further 13,5 percent improvement by 2020. The decrease of Russian emissions since 1991 has saved 40 billion tons of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere. By way of comparison, the total emissions of all countries in 2012 reached 46 billion tons. These improvements are achieved through the use of breakthrough energy-saving solutions, such as nanotechnologies, as well as modern regulatory measures.

 Russia supports the world’s community’s long-term goal: to keep global warming within an increase of two degrees Celsius by the end of this century. In Paris, we are advocating a new, comprehensive and legally binding agreement for the post-2020 period. Such an instrument should unite efforts of all countries and in particular those with the highest emission levels. The agreement may become a solid foundation of a long-term climate regime, balanced in all its aspects.

 It is paramount that the new agreement should reflect the important role of forests as the main absorber of greenhouse gases. Forests should be duly accounted for when setting targets. This is particularly important for Russia, which has immense forest resources and does a lot to preserve them.

 Of course, not all countries are fully prepared to take efficient emission-cutting measures. That’s why it is important to support developing countries’ efforts to reduce harmful emissions. Russia will provide financial and other assistance to these countries, using the relevant mechanisms of the United Nations.

 Developed and developing countries should be treated on a fair basis. We cannot ignore changes in environmental, economic, political and technological development of the world, including accession of a number of Parties to the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change)/(Kyoto Protocol) to the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development), the increased level of their GDP, etc. At the same time Russia does not reject the principle of “common but differentiated responsibilities”. We believe that the content of climate commitments and actions by developed and developing countries may be different, but they should be reflected in a single international legal accord. Without this, it will be just useless.

 Finally, efficient tackling climate change is impossible without proper research. For this reason we have put forward an initiative of holding a UN-sponsored scientific congress on natural resources exhaustion and deterioration of human habitat, that will allow to put global warming into a broader environmental and social context.

 These measures are not somehow “a platter of climate-friendly platitudes” as sceptics may put it. Russia has already proved by facts that it has met the Kyoto Protocol goals. The stakes are high. As the planet’s temperature is rising it is obvious that uncontrolled climate could cause irreversible impacts on both the human and the environment. Dealing with the disastrous consequences will be much harder and dearer. We hope that common sense will prevail and a new post-Kyoto agreement will be reached by consensus.

Russia aims to continue to actively participate in the negotiations and to engage with all stakeholders in the spirit of transparency, strict observance of the rules of procedure, respect for the interest of all states, collective responsibility and compromise in order to strike a genuine consensus and strengthen efforts for finalization of a new legally binding climate regime. We believe a new agreement is achievable.