Carbon cuts for 2015 should not be determined by 2C target, says Russia

Submission stresses need for developed and developing countries to contribute tougher emission reductions by 2015

By Ed King

Russia says a proposed UN climate deal should aim to limit warming to 2C, but does not think that target should determine what level of emission cuts countries decide to accept ahead of a proposed 2015 UN climate deal.

“The only reasonable method is for each country to set its own commitments pursuant to its level of socio-economic development, natural and geographical characteristics, and financial and technical capacity,” says a submission to the UN’s climate body.

The three-page document also suggests countries to offer greenhouse gas emission pledges up to the year 2030, rather than 2025, which appears to be a preferred date for the USA.

“The commitment period of the new instrument should be sufficiently long for countries to implement needed socio-economic measures and introduce relevant technologies: 10 years,” says Moscow.

International talks on addressing climate change are now entering a critical stage, with a global agreement scheduled for next December in Paris.

But many developed and developing countries still disagree over who needs to make the toughest greenhouse gas cuts, and how these should be funded.

A recent UN climate science study by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warned that countries to roughly halve global carbon emissions by 2050 in order to stabilise warming to 1.5 or 2C.

Small Island States and low-lying countries want warming capped at 1.5C, a level they argue will reduce the impact of rising sea levels and other extreme weather events.

But many scientists now say 2C is more realistic, a view supported by most emerging economies and other major carbon polluters, who are worried what the effect of radical emission cuts would be on their economic growth.

A UN meeting in Abu Dhabi this weekend will see governments discuss how they will submit their emission cuts next year, but it is still unclear how these will be shared out.


Russia’s submission stresses the importance of emerging economies – presumably heavy emitters like China, India and Brazil – taking greater responsibility for these cuts.

“Current global socio-economic development realities should be accounted for, while one-sided interpretation of the principles should be avoided,” the document says.

“In the interest of the objectives of the new instrument, it is not acceptable to maintain the static division of countries as per the current UNFCCC categories.”

In 2009 Russia committed to reducing its emissions 25% on 1990 levels by 2020 – an apparently tough target that it has already hit without any major changes to its business model.

The country is the world’s second biggest supplier of oil and gas, and yesterday delivered its first shipment of Arctic oil to refineries in Rotterdam, amid intense protests from Greenpeace.

RTCC understands the Kremlin is currently modelling future scenarios, and could present a reduction pledge of 30% below 1990 for the 2015 Paris deal.

Moscow’s contribution also criticises the recent practice at UN talks of holding all-night negotiations, suggesting it leads to ill conceived agreements.

“The recent practice of holding negotiations under almost force-majeure circumstances (whereby earlier missed chances are compensated by de-facto round-the-clock labour on the final stages of negotiations) is perverse,” it says.

“It hampers the development of viable solutions and can no longer me accepted, especially when legally meaningful decisions are concerned.”

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