What’s behind Russia’s climate policy? Small steps towards an intrinsic interest
Un article qui analyse l'évolution, la mise en œuvre et la portée (géo)politique des politiques environnementales et climatiques en Russie.
Points clés [en anglais] :
CLIMATE CHANGE IS A TRADITIONALLY MARGINAL ISSUE
Russia is the world’s largest energy exporter, and holds the world’s biggest energy reserves. It has been through a turbulent transition away from socialism over the last 20 years. Civil society engagement in defining state policies has been generally low, even if recent post-election protests illustrate a certain “awakening”, while business interests, particularly in the energy sector, are highly influential in politics. In this context, it is not surprising that climate change has remained a marginal issue in politics and the society at large.
CLIMATE POLICIES WITHIN THE CURRENT ECONOMIC AGENDA
Nonetheless, today there is increasing interest in climate change at the political level. Some of this can be attributed to the huge international attention that the 2009 Copenhagen summit attracted; Russia was indeed keen to preserve its position of an important global player, and therefore had to engage with the global issue of the hour. However, domestic interest is also increasing in energy efficiency and technological innovation. Energy efficiency is seen as a means to maintain energy exports, while continuing to service domestic demand. This issue of technological innovation, including in green technologies, fits well with the broader political agenda of economic modernization promoted both by Medvedev and Putin.
ONE STEP FORWARD, TWO STEPS BACK?
Nonetheless, today Russia is taking only limited action to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. The energy efficiency law passed in 2009 is an important first step to tackle the largest and most cost-effective source of emissions reductions. But Russia’s track record with implementation is patchy; time will reveal the effectiveness of this measure. Russia is also increasingly implementing emissions reduction projects to sell credits abroad (JI). However, a broader program to incentivize the development and diffusion of low-carbon technologies is lacking. Notwithstanding its declared goals, for now Russia prefers to keep a low-profile in international climate change talks, while its proposed target to 2020 likely requires no additional action to be met.