Siberian breeze to the climate negotiations

Tisdag, 28. Oktober 2008     0 kommentti(a)
Anna Korppoo
forskare - forskningsprogrammet EU:s östra grannskap och Ryssland
The Russian government submitted a position paper to the UN climate change secretariat for the upcoming Poznan meeting. Even though this paper did not present a full position of the Russian Federation, it can be seen as an indication of what is to come in Copenhagen.

From climate point of view, the good news is that Russia shares the vision of 50% emission reductions of global greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 as declared by the G8, and would even consider this goal under the climate negotiations. But this is pretty much all the good news there is.

Further, the statement labels this goal as ‘aspirational’ and argues that it should not be used as a starting point for negotiations on distribution of commitments. Even a collective target for industrialised countries and possible others as well to reduce emissions by 25-40% by 2020 is seen as ‘unreasonable’.

Unsurprisingly, Russia is calling for contributions by all the major economies and broad participation of developing countries in mitigation actions, and focusing on changing social and economic situation in the world. National circumstances of countries in the light of their real capabilities are emphasised as the elements of fairness and effectiveness of the post-Kyoto regime.

What is extremely worrying is the definition of ‘legally binding’ commitment. Such commitments are regarded as acceptable if:
– the regime is not punitive and enforceable,
– the commitments can be adjusted on the course of their implementation and
– incentives to fulfil commitments are effective.

‘Legally binding’ tends to be a reference to a punitive and enforceable regime, and frankly, this approach would reduce commitments to recommendations. To me, this reads as: Russia can accept commitments as long as they are NOT legally binding, but money will be provided should they be met.

Of course it must be kept in mind that this is the starting point for negotiations only, and that positions evolve. However, this approach may well be a more permanent one in the case of Russia. After all, the country has got used to being in the receiving end of the Kyoto Protocol, and its economy, and thus emissions, is growing fast. The line of the previous president Putin’s previous advisor Andrey Illarionov during the ratification is likely to re-emerge: Climate commitments would limit Russian economic growth which is politically unacceptable.

The Russian submission is available at the UNFCCC website.

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