Russian Government offers faint hope of Kyoto 2 participation

By John Parnell

The Russian Government could sign up to a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol but it will not happen without changes in position from others and shifts in the rules of the agreement.

Speaking at an event organised by Russian News Agency RIA Novosti, Oleg Pluzhnikov, Deputy Director, Department of Tariffs, Infrastructure Reform and Energy Efficiency at the Ministry of Economic Development said the Russian delegation would head to Doha with an open mind. Minister’s have previously stated that the country’s initial position at the talks is against making a pledge in Kyoto’s second phase.

Countries meeting in Doha this month must establish a new round of the Kyoto Protocol as a precursor the work on a future global deal including all nations.

“Russia is not joining the second phase of the Kyoto Protocol in terms of making a quantative commitment,” said Pluzhnikov quoting the official government line. “However, it will majorly be decided by the progress in the negotiation process. I’m not going to say under conditions A, B and C we will sign and under D, E and F we won’t.”

“Russia has always said it is interested in having a universal comprehensive agreement with the inclusion of as many countries as possible. In this context we can hardly expect substantial progress regarding the second phase of commitments in Doha,” highlighting the exit of Canada and Japan as a concern.

Pluzhnikov has been quoted on the record previously backing the stance of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs, which is lobbying the government to make a pledge under the second phase of Kyoto.

Mikhail Yulkin, head of the Union’s Working Group on Climate Change told the same event that Russia had nothing to lose by taking part.

The position of business is more pragmatic, it may even appear idealistic. As I see it, Russia will not lose anything if it joins in the second commitment period of Kyoto,” said Yulkin.

Russia has benefitted from the first phase of Kyoto under its Joint Implementation (JI) process that sees developed economies fund the low carbon projects in transitioning economies. The EU will not continue its JI activities in Russia if it does not make a commitment.

Many JI have seen industrial and energy infrastructure projects receive funding and technology to enable them to reduce carbon.

Typical Joint Implementation projects have seen German utility firms upgrading Russian power stations. (Source:UN)

Losing this support from the EU and Japan is a concern according to Yulkin. He said that the EU clause means Russia cannot wait for the EU to blink first on the issue of JI.

“The diplomacy of this millennium prompts us to be more proactive. To expect the EU to walk towards us if we refrain from walking towards them. That is a fantasy,” he added.

“We have the possibility to discuss something potentially with the EU, with Japan that relates to more projects though the mechanisms that will help sell carbon credits and reduce emissions,” said Yulkin.

WWF Russia’s Alexey Kokorin, Head of Climate and Energy Programme said the “dream scenario” that would see Russia make a pledge under Kyoto hinged on the EU and Japan.

“If Japan joined Kyoto and offered JI projects to transition economies that would be a powerful statement. If the EU pledged to reduce emissions by 30%, anything else makes us laugh given they are already on 17%, and it opened the door to JI, if these two fantasies were to come true, we might see Russia sign up for the second commitment period,” said Kokorin.

Part of the EU hesitancy with JI could be due to the recipients frequently being the country’s energy giants.

“If the EU does not want to pay out to Gazprom and Rosneft, then let them limit the JI to only renewables and energy efficiency in schools and municipalities,” said Kokorin.

Read more on: Climate politics | COP18 | | | |