The world’s climate and weather patterns are changing. Global temperatures are rising, causing more extreme weather events, such as flooding and heatwaves. Climate change is one of the gravest challenges humanity faces today. The potential threat of these global processes remains a tangible one.
The world’s attention has been focused for the past two weeks on the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris. We are experiencing a pivot where we should shift from words to constructive solutions, recognising there is a trend to the worsening effects of global climate change. The event gives us a unique opportunity to address this challenge by achieving a new climate agreement based on the principles of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.
Russia is taking active measures to address global warming, including the Climate Doctrine of the Russian Federation; Presidential Decrees – on measures to improve energy and ecological efficiency and “On the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions”; the Federal Law on Energy Conservation; and the 2030 Energy Strategy of Russia. We have more than fulfilled our obligations under the Kyoto Protocol. Through the implementation of our Energy Efficiency and Energy Sector Development programme, we managed to improve our economy’s energy efficiency by a third over the period 2000-12, and we expect to reach a further 13.5pc improvement by 2020. The fall in Russian emissions since 1991 has stopped 40 billion tons of carbon dioxide entering the atmosphere. These improvements are achieved through the use of breakthrough energy-saving solutions, such as nanotechnologies, as well as the introduction of regulatory measures.
Russia supports the world’s community’s long-term goal: to keep global warming within an increase of 2C by the end of this century. In Paris, we are advocating a new, comprehensive and legally binding agreement for the period after 2020. Such an instrument should unite the efforts of all countries and in particular those with the highest emission levels. The new agreement should reflect the important role of forests as the main absorber of greenhouse gases. This is particularly important for Russia, which has immense forest resources.
Not all countries are fully prepared to take efficient emission-cutting measures. That’s why it is important to support the efforts made by developing countries to reduce their harmful emissions. Russia will provide financial and other assistance to these countries, using the relevant mechanisms of the United Nations. Developing countries should be treated on a fair basis. We cannot ignore changes in environmental, economic, political and technological development of the world, the increased level of their GDP, etc. At the same time, Russia does not reject the principle of “common but differentiated responsibilities” but believes that they should be reflected in a single international legal accord.
Finally, a strategy to tackle climate change efficiently is impossible without proper research. For this reason we have put forward an initiative that involves holding a United Nations-sponsored scientific congress on the exhaustion of natural resources and the deterioration of human habitat. This will allow global warming to be placed into a broader environmental and social context.
These measures are not somehow “a platter of climate-friendly platitudes” as sceptics may put it. Russia has already proved that it has met the Kyoto Protocol goals. The stakes are high. As the planet’s temperature is rising, it is obvious that uncontrolled climate change could cause irreversible impacts on both the human population and the environment. Dealing with the disastrous consequences will be much harder and dearer. We hope that common sense will prevail and a new post-Kyoto agreement will be reached by consensus.
Alexander Yakovenko is Russian Ambassador to the United Kingdom. He was previously Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs.
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