New Russian energy law leaves CO2 cuts uncertain
John McGarrity

Russia has adopted an energy efficiency law likely to be key to the country’s efforts in cutting CO2.

Russia’s parliament, the Duma, this week adopted the Federal law on energy conservation, which aims to set up a framework to promote energy efficiency.

The law aims to encourage medium and large power plants and factories to invest in technologies that use less energy per unit produced.

But it remains to be seen to what extent the new regulation will be enforced, making it difficult for observers to assess the regulation’s effect on carbon dioxide emissions.

”In general it would be difficult to calculate its effect (on cutting emissions) due to the uncertainty of its implementation,” said Anna Korppoo, an analyst of Russian climate policy at the Finnish Institute of International Affairs.


According to Russian news reports, the law aims to offer tax benefits and other financial incentives for Russia’s heavy industry to replace highly energy inefficient machinery and equipment.

Also, the new law will to try to encourage lower use of electricity and heating in business and residential buildings – a major source of wasted energy in Russia – through the use of compulsory meters.

And incandescent lightbulbs will be phased out from 2014.

Although much of Russia’s highly-polluting industry shut down following the collapse of communism, many of the factories and power plants that remained are still highly inefficient compared to the new technologies in use in many developed countries.

Russia is one of the world’s major emitters thanks to its huge oil and gas industry.

The country’s large population, concentration of energy intensive industries such as metals and mining and extreme climate also contribute to the country’s status as a heavy energy user.


Per capita emissions in Russia are around 11-12 tonnes per person, higher than many richer countries, according to various estimates.

Alexy Kokorin, a Moscow-based climate campaigner with environmental group WWF, said the energy efficiency law was likely to play a major role in Russia’s proposals to curb its emissions when targets are discussed at UN climate talks in  Copenhagen.

But given that the regulation passed by the Duma this week is a framework rather a law that would be zealously enforced, it would be hard to say how much the energy efficiency iniatitive would cut emissions from business-as-usual.

Russia has undertaken to keep emissions 10-15 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020, which effectively would mean growth of 10-15 per cent in emissions from 2005 levels by the end of the next decade.

This is because Russia’s emissions are currently 30 per cent below its Kyoto target.