After much procrastination, the course is given. ” Russia will strive to achieve carbon neutrality in its economy. And we have set a concrete goal, no later than 2060 ”, announced, Wednesday, October 13, Vladimir Putin. At the rostrum of an energy forum, a stone’s throw from the Kremlin, the Russian president has shown himself to be a surprising defender of the environment. “The ecological security of the planet requires balanced responsible action by all market players”, he insisted, declaring himself ready to “Constructive, close and trusting cooperation”. A clear clarification of the Russian position on the eve of the United Nations climate conference (COP26), which opens on October 31 in Glasgow, Scotland.
These strong statements from Vladimir Poutine, reputedly “climate-skeptic” president at the head of one of the most polluting countries in the world, are all the more surprising given that, in September, he again accused Europeans of aiming for carbon neutrality at the expense of Russia. Until then, its stated priority had been the northern sea route. The development of this new route along the polar coasts, which had become more and more navigable under the effect of warming and melting ice, symbolized the Kremlin’s policy, far from ecological concerns. This vast project should open up juicy commercial prospects between Europe and Asia and boost mining in the Arctic regions.
Faced with realities, Moscow has therefore changed its discourse and set itself objectives, now posting a decarbonization agenda identical to that of China. “We are happy to hear Vladimir Putin’s statements on carbon neutrality”, confides to World Vasili Yablokov, from Greenpeace Russia. But the NGO, which launched a petition for the COP26 asking to legalize decarbonization by 2050 (and not 2060), remains cautious in the face of the often ambiguous and contradictory positions of the Russian authorities.
“Last month, the Ministry of Economic Development had already taken a position and then … made it clear that it was not fundamentally considering carbon neutrality in Russia”, recalls Vasili Yablokov. Revealed by the Moscow press, the new Russian strategy for decarbonization aims for neutrality by 2060, with a very strong reduction of 79% of greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 compared to the current level (and 89% compared to the 1990 level) and a drop in oil and gas exports of 2% per year in real terms from 2030. A significant concession for a country whose economy and budget are State still depend heavily on mining.
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