Russia set to adopt climate law by next year

Russia set to adopt climate law by next year
Photo: Moscow-Live

The Kremlin is making steps towards a “low-carbon economy”: a bill stimulating climate projects and emission cuts has been approved by the lower chamber of the Russian parliament in the first reading this week.

Russia has made its first step towards carbon trading and detailed monitoring of its greenhouse gas emissions, reports Bloomberg. On 20 April, the Russian State Duma approved in the first reading the bill that creates a framework for climate projects in the country. The law, which requires two more readings in the Duma and approval from the upper chamber of parliament and the president, is expected to come into force from 2022.

According to the bill, companies that exceed the annual equivalent of 150,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions will have to report their emission levels to regulators. The threshold is meant to be lowered to at least 50,000 tonnes from 2025. Such pollution monitoring is aimed at setting targets for emission cuts. The bill also envisages trading carbon units that result from emission cuts or absorption.

While presenting the draft law to the government in February, Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin called it “our new climate policy” and “part of our international obligations within the Paris Agreement”. “It’s for the first time that we are adopting such a regulatory act,” he said. Russia joined the Paris Agreement two years ago, but its goals under the global accord are rather modest compared to developed economies. While the European Union, Japan and South Korea target carbon neutrality by 2050, Russia aims instead to develop a “low-carbon economy” in the next three decades.

Action against climate change, Russia, 2015. Photo: Friends of the Earth International

However, the EU’s plan of a cross-border carbon tax alarmed the Kremlin, as it may affect some of Russia’s key raw-material producers and exporters. According to Russian industry estimates, their annual losses may total up to $8 billion. Minister of Economic Development Maxim Reshetnikov said last week that his ministry expected the introduction of carbon-offset trading to help mitigate potential negative effects of cross-border carbon taxes. The minister stressed the importance of Russian carbon units and lower carbon footprint being “recognised in the international markets”.

Next year, Russia intends to begin trialling an emission trading system in Sakhalin Oblast in the Far East. Deputy Minister of Economic Development Ilya Torosov told Bloomberg in March that the goal was to make the region carbon neutral by 2025.

By Anna Litvina