Russia emissions expected to peak by 2030

By Olga Dobrovidova

Greenhouse gas emissions in Russia apparently will peak between 2020-2030 somewhere below the 1990 levels, according to forecasts prepared by the national Ministry of Economic Development.

The long-term forecast of socioeconomic development in Russia up to 2030, presented on Tuesday, is a comprehensive assessment of current and future trends in the world economy and their implications for Russian economic development.

According to the 336-page report, Russia’s GHG emissions in 2013 will be about 30% below 1990.

This essentially means a 4.25% percentage point increase from 2010 (most recent official UN data) and aligns well with the ministry’s assessment of the country’s economy, which is “among the most carbon-intensive in the world”.

The Russian economy is heavily dependent on fossil fuels

“This means that industry keeps lagging behind in technological development, loses its competitive advantages and can eventually lead to difficulties in complying with international emission reduction commitments”, says the forecast.

According to MED, emissions will continue to rise up to 2020, with Russia narrowly squeezing into the upper limit of its Copenhagen pledge of 15-25% below 1990.

However, by 2030 emissions are expected to go back to 2013 levels, i.e. 30% below 1990.

Although no direct references to peaking are made, the ministry highlights the fact that reducing carbon intensity and adaptation measures remain “among the top priorities in the Russian environmental policy framework”.

As for the world economy, MED experts believe that climate change and other environmental issues will be among “global trends shaping the future”.

In particular, the ministry expects the world to proceed along the path of ‘green growth’, businesses to reconsider their risk assessment and ramp up green investment, and a surge in low-carbon technologies and carbon capture and storage (CCS).

“Climate change is one of the key global trends of today and one of the threats to sustainable economic development. (Climate) security and climate change mitigation will become one of the major challenges of this century”, the report reads.


A curious reader with certain statistical skills can also find what appears to be a blatant admission of Russia’s failure to reach its GDP energy intensity target set in 2008.

Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev in May 2012 confirmed the goal of a 40% reduction below 2008 levels by 2020, but virtually everyone is convinced there is no way this could possibly happen.

Well, now we know how exactly it won’t happen. GDP energy intensity in 2013 will, apparently, be 2.1-2.7% below 2008 levels and is expected to gradually decrease from 2014 onwards.

But even the highly unlikely ‘forced growth’ scenario outlined in the document has that number reaching the magical 40% only by 2023.

The so-called ‘innovative’ scenario, which seems to be the one Russian government would prefer, gets us to 22.5% below 2008 by 2020 – and the mission is accomplished only in 2029.

The third ‘conservative’ scenario, which, given its description, is more or less business as usual, implies a 31.6% reduction in GDP energy intensity by 2030 and the 40% target moving out of MED’s scope of analysis.

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