Russia is gearing up to announce its national emissions reduction target within the next few days, documents obtained by Below 2C indicate. A draft of a presidential decree that Below 2C has at its disposal reveals the emissions reduction obligation Russia intends to announce is 15 to 25 percent below 1990 levels by 2020.
This presidential decree will be made public within the next few days – likely, before Thursday evening, when Russia’s chief negotiator Alexander Bedritsky is expected to address the COP-18 delegates during the Doha summit’s high-level segment session.
Quite possibly, the only reason this document has even appeared is because in the situation it finds itself today, the Russian delegation desperately needs to show that Russia has a climate policy – any climate policy – and at least some intention to cut its emissions. There was just too much criticism Moscow had to endure for its decision not to join the second period of the Kyoto Protocol. Some positive spin was in order. But the target Moscow is going to announce, it would be better off not announcing any at all, because a 15-25% commitment only makes it worse.
Delegate countries at UNFCCC conferences are often liable to come under a barrage of criticism for that reason alone that they are not showing enough ambition to cut emissions, sticking with the no-special-climate-mitigation-effort business-as-usual track. And Russia’s target, to be announced any day now, is even worse than business as usual: It’s an attempt to flaunt a fantastic rise in greenhouse gas emissions while not undertaking any effort at all to cut emissions by 2020.
The document makes no mention of Russia’s forests, which is a key issue, since without carbon absorption by forests factored in, Russia’s emissions are currently 30% less than 1990 levels, and 50% less if the forests are taken into account. This leaves ample room foridle talk and manipulation.
Before the 2009 UNFCCC Conference in Copenhagen, Russia’s President Dmitry Medvedev spoke of targets very much resembling the one Russia intends to announce in Doha, and already then, many observers criticized them as extremely weak. There is no doubt that this will be yet another announcement that will earn Russia a new round of criticism and will further damage its image at the climate negotiations.
In the past three years, Russia’s emissions have only risen, and no effort is being seen to reduce them – other than a number of legislative acts that no one cares to implement. Perhaps what’s truly noteworthy about this story is this special talent Russia has to make a bad thing worse by declaring the best of intentions.
“Below 2C”, Russian non-governmental observers’ newsletter at the UN climate talks, issue 62, Doha