Russia may draw up plans to cut GHG emissions, mainly through energy efficiency measures.
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin told a cabinet meeting on Thursday that a detailed plan was needed so that Russia would use newer, less carbon intensive technologies.
Dmitry Medvedev, who succeeded Putin as president, last year outlined broad plans to boost energy efficiency.
But until now the prime minister, who controls key ministries such as industry and energy, had said little on how Russia will cut emissions.
According to a report of yesterday’s meeting on Russian news agency Novosti, Putin said: ”Solving the climate problem will require international cooperation, and Russia will take a responsible approach in its domestic policies.”
Putin echoed previous statements that it would only take action if the US -which never ratified the Kyoto protocol – took on targets after 2012.
Russia, the world’s third-largest emitter of climate-changing gases, has a key role in this year’s crunch UN climate talks in Copenhagen.
The meeting will aim at finding a successor to the Kyoto protocol, a pact that Russia only ratified after intense pressure from other large developed countries.
Russia’s target under the Kyoto protocol is to keep emissions at 1990 levels, and is expected to resist any moves to tighten its caps after 2012 if the country is prevented from using its stockpile of surplus emissions rights.
The country will have billions of surplus emissions rights (also known as assigned amount units) in the first commitment period of the Kyoto protocol running from 2008 throughout 2012, because of the closure of Soviet-era industries during the 1990s.
According to reports, the cabinet meeting was presented with findings that outlined the costs that climate change would pose for Russia (between 2-5 per cent of GDP) and the action that could be taken to make cuts in Russia’s emissions through energy efficiency measures.
Observers of Russian climate policy gave a guarded welcome to Putin’s comments.
”It ends the long silence on this important issue in the high-level politics of Russia,” said Anna Korppoo, a specialist on Russian climate policy at the Finnish Institute of International Affairs.
She added: ”These statements could mark a more active domestic debate on the post-2012 position of Russia.”
However, Korppoo said that Russia’s move to give climate change a higher profile had come very late against the backdrop of discussions to negotiate a draft text for the Copenhagen talks.
The UN wants that draft text to emerge by the middle of this year, but international climate talks have presented few details on future action, observers say.
Aleksei Kokorin, of green group WWF, who analyses Russia’s role in cutting emissions, said the Russian public, non-governmental organisations and other independent views should be considered as Russia formulates its climate policy.