What can we expect from Russia at COP26?
We ask experts whether the Kremlin’s latest moves on climate, including its 2060 net-zero target, heralds genuine change or more greenwash.
Russia has been seen as a climate pariah by the international community for some years. It was one of the last counties to ratify the 2015 Paris Agreement – not until September 2019, at the UN’s Climate Action Summit.
At the time, few would have expected to see the ambitious declarations made by Russia this year.
In April, Vladimir Putin asked his cabinet to produce a plan to cut carbon emissions below the level of the EU by 2050. In July, the Russian president signed legislation that requires the country’s largest companies to report their greenhouse gas emissions – a move hailed as the first step towards carbon regulation. (...)
Bobo Lo, an associate research fellow at the French Institute of International Relations (IFRI), says that “Fossil fuels are Russia’s great comparative advantage, and it is unthinkable to me that it would voluntarily give this up.” “Saying is one thing, doing is quite another!” he adds.
Lo pointed out that Russia’s 2035 Energy Strategy currently forecasts a 50% increase in gas production to 2035, and the 2035 Coal Production Strategy also envisages a surge in coal production.
“How is any of this compatible with a net-zero commitment? It isn’t, but then again 2060 is a long way away,” Lo says. “By that time, these commitments will have been overtaken by events.”
Russian energy minister Nikolay Shulginov told the Russian Energy Week forum two weeks ago that the 2060 net-zero target meant that the country would have to diversify its energy mix and revise the 2035 Energy Strategy.
But rather than a genuine ecological transition, Lo reads Russia’s new commitment as an attempt to “be seen as an upstanding member of the international community”, noting that it’s important for the Russian leadership not to be “an outlier at a time when there is broad consensus on the threat global warming poses”,
“It’s easy to pluck figures out of the air and pretend they will be realised,” he says.
>>You can read the entire article on the Open Democracy website. <<