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. Russia, Kyoto Protocol And Climate Change

"In Russia, energy use per unit of GDP is 3.1 times greater than in the European Union (before the admission of new members). Some 25%-30% can be chalked up to the cold climate, but by and large we continue heating the world around us, wasting a lot of energy. The power industry uses hydrocarbons to generate 75% of its energy, and the higher the energy efficiency, the lower the energy intensity, and, hence, the less carbon dioxide goes into the air."
by Viktor Danilov-Danilyan for RIA Novosti
Moscow (RIA Novosti) Feb 21, 2007
Two years have passed since the Kyoto Protocol (KP) went into force. A total of 150 nations have ratified this extraordinary international document. It embodies humankind's pragmatism, and is aimed at reducing the negative anthropogenic influence on the biosphere and the climate. Preparations for its implementation will be completed this year, and monitoring of compliance with KP commitments will start in 2008.

All industrialized countries have pledged themselves to reduce emissions by 5% on 1990 levels, and they will certainly do this. Europe, Canada, and Japan have launched large-scale preparations for the KP's implementation.

Russia was slow to act, but now we have made some progress in preparing a list of emissions sources and a register of emissions reductions. The Ministry of Economic Development and Trade has focused on this problem, and, I believe, will adopt appropriate standards, enact delegated legislation, and streamline the entire inventory system.

It will not be difficult for Russia to abide by its commitments; it has amassed a huge reserve of emissions credits because of an economic decline in the 1990s. Despite its growing economy, by 2012 Russia will by no means exceed the level of emissions in 1990, which is the KP's year of departure.

The energy-saving process began in Russia in the 1990s entirely as a result of market prices. These were later supplemented by new parameters of energy efficiency. The current technologies available on the world market are of a later generation (using the monstrous Siemens-Martin double-hearth furnace with its record energy-output ratio is totally out of the question in the Russian steel industry).

But in Russia, energy use per unit of GDP is 3.1 times greater than in the European Union (before the admission of new members). Some 25%-30% can be chalked up to the cold climate, but by and large we continue heating the world around us, wasting a lot of energy. The power industry uses hydrocarbons to generate 75% of its energy, and the higher the energy efficiency, the lower the energy intensity, and, hence, the less carbon dioxide goes into the air.

The KP's measures are intended to progressively modify the general energy balance. Its joint implementation projects could help re-equip the industry with less energy-intensive and more environmentally friendly technologies. These projects provide for direct investment in upgrading production, and payment will be received in the form of saved emissions. They could guarantee our industry much-needed modernization without (or with very modest) financial expenditures.

But we do not have proper legislation for such joint implementation projects. Our Western partners are interested in cooperating with us and have subjected Russia to heavy criticism more than once. For them, Russia is a close, familiar, and highly profitable market, but we are not letting them in.

Any economist or analyst would applaud more sensible spending on global aims. The gist of the KP is to develop mechanisms which would rationalize spending as much as possible. For instance, Denmark, Britain, and Germany have to pay through the nose for emissions reductions in their countries. In this case, they could spend money to reach the same goals in other countries where similar measures cost much less, achieving a tangible environmental improvement.

Global warming-related problems are getting worse with every passing year. The KP, which aims at slowing down this process, is therefore gaining in importance. Every new report by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change points to an increasing anthropogenic contribution to climate change; the percentage of that change for which humankind is responsible went up from 60% five years ago to 90% last January. Predictions of warming in the 21st century have been going up as well. Initially, experts mentioned 1 degree Celsius, then 1.5. Now optimists are talking about 2 degrees, while pessimists predict 6.5 degrees by the late 21st century.

There are quite a few experts that call into doubt the climatic effect that the KP's measures will have. Now the concentration of greenhouse gases in the air is about 370 ppm (carbon dioxide in parts per million). By 2012, this figure is expected to grow by 18 ppm if the Kyoto measures are not carried out, or by 16-17 ppm if they are. The difference is a mere one or two ppm. This is what the Kyoto Protocol's critics emphasize. But experts believe that even a 1ppm reduction would be quite good. If we proceed at such a pace, we may eventually be able to stabilize humanity's influence on the climate.

Viktor Danilov-Danilyan is a corresponding member of the Russian Academy of Sciences and director of the Water Problems Institute. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and may not necessarily represent the opinions of the editorial board.

Source: RIA Novosti

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In Chilly Washington Global Warming Gets New Airing
Washington (AFP) Feb 14, 2007
Global legislators met in snowbound Washington Wednesday to debate a new pact against catastrophic climate change and find ways of luring laggards like the United States and China on board. German Chancellor Angela Merkel, addressing the forum at the US Senate in a recorded video message, said she was determined to bring about breakthroughs on global warming during her tenure this year as Group of Eight chair.

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