Tatarstan included in global 'green' agenda

World experts discussed the difficulties of the 'green' transition for the regions at the plenary session of the 24th TCI Global Conference

Tatarstan included in global 'green' agenda
Photo: Maksim Platonov

“The first task of business and society is not to recycle plastic that got into the ocean, but not to let this plastic get into the ocean," Dmitry Konov, the chairman of the management board of SIBUR Holding PJSC, formulated the super task for big businesses in the process of “green” transition to circular economy. At the plenary session of the 24th TCI Global Conference, the top officials of Tatarstan and the representatives of major companies discussed the ways to preserve the sustainable development of cities under the pressure of district migration, and the heads of Tatneft and SIBUR presented promising waste-free technologies for decarbonisation of business for the first time. Nail Maganov told how oil workers are trying to pump carbon dioxide into empty underground reservoirs, and Dmitry Konov — about contracts with 32 regional operators of garbage that provide it with recyclable materials.

Seven hundred million people live without electricity in the world. Is it good?

The main discussion at the plenary session of the TCI World Global Conference was devoted to the topic of transition to “green” economy, which is relevant in the light of the upcoming carbon regulation, but only through the prism of regional development. “Sustainable development. Regions' agenda” — so was the agenda. Although TCI is formally engaged in expanding global cooperation ties in businesses, the starting point of this forum was the discussion of the challenges that are overdue for Russian megacities.

This gave a certain novelty and liveliness to the discussion, which was attended by representatives of regional authorities, financial institutions and businesses. It was participated by the president of TCI Network, Merete Daniel Nielsen, the president of the World Economic Forum, Borge Brende, the president of Tatarstan, Rustam Minnikhanov, member of the Board (Minister) for Internal Markets, Informatisation, Information and Communication Technologies of the Eurasian Economic Commission, Gegham Vardanyan, Minister of Innovative Development of Uzbekistan, Ibrohim Abdurakhmonov, the vice-governor of St. Petersburg, Vladimir Knyaginin. It was their opinions that determined the palette of future solutions in the transformation of cities.

In her welcoming speech, the president of the TCI Network, Merete Daniel Nielsen, noted that cluster connections help to develop the economy, and energy companies create comfortable conditions for the life of society.

“I am happy to see many cluster initiatives here, and they know how the value chain is changing. We can see how the pandemic has also hit local markets. The “green” transition is the main challenge, we must change our world, and regions and clusters play a major role. Small and medium-sized businesses go where big companies go," she noted.

However, 700 million people in the world live without electricity, and not everyone can use transport.

Merete Daniel Nielsen noted that cluster connections help to develop the economy, and energy companies create comfortable conditions for the life of society

Exam for Minnikhanov

Before the discussion, the moderator of the forum, head of the Investment Development Agency of the Republic of Tatarstan, Talia Minullina, announced eight thematic categories dedicated to the “green economy”. Their names were highlighted on the screen so that each of the invited speakers could choose a suitable nomination for themselves. In fact, it was a kind of “examination” paper of the speaker. Having drawed it, he had to answer questions from European experts.

As the host, Rustam Minnikhanov was the first to “draw a paper”. He chose the topic of “sustainable development of territories”. His “examiner”, UN expert Andrey Kuznetsov, asked to what extent the declared 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals are in demand by the republic and how international cooperation is developing.

“Tatarstan is closely following the UN initiatives related to the Sustainable Development Goals. The republic pays special attention to the development of the circular economy and the reduction of the 'carbon footprint'," the head of Tatarstan replied. “We are an industrial republic and the elements of a circular economy are very important for us. How will the carbon footprint affect us? I am the chairman of the board of directors of Tatneft, we do not have a single meeting when we do not discuss this topic. Tatneft joined the UN agreement in 2019. A lot of companies in Tatarstan are working in this direction.”

Rustam Minnikhanov: “We all want to live in a territory where water, air, and nature should be clean. This is not a fashion, this is our planned systematic work”

Switching to the main topic of cities, he slightly grinned at the forecast that by 2050 70% of the world's population living in cities.

“We still have 75% of the population living in cities," he said, adding that the district migration has raised many questions in the reconstruction of urban space.

“We all want to live in a territory where water, air, and nature should be clean. This is not a fashion, this is our planned systematic work. In this regard, we will actively cooperate with the UN and other international organisations," Rustam Minnikhanov assured, recalling that in 2020 a special report was presented on how the UN Sustainable Development Goals were being achieved in the republic.

Gegham Vardanyan, a member of the Board for Internal Markets, Informatisation, Information and Communication Technologies of the Eurasian Economic Commission, drew a paper of digitalisation. Answering the questions of international experts, he told in detail which digital services help migrant workers to register faster in new countries and goods to speed up the movement to the destination.

To dispose 1 tonne of CO2, it will be necessary then another 600,000

After the floor was passed to the general director of Tatneft, Nail Maganov, the discussion turned to the sphere of business interests. He predictably chose the familiar category “business about business”. And he made a remark: our category is “responsible business”. The representative of the World Bank asked via video link what Tatneft was doing to switch to a circular economy and to reduce emissions.

Nail Maganov said that the technology for the disposal of carbon dioxide was being worked out. Tatneft pumps it into underground layers

“The question is so wide, how much time do I have to answer," Nail Maganov tried to laugh it off and moved on to the answer. “It's hard to imagine life without electricity, without cars. But on the other hand, we understand that if you dug up the soil somewhere, threw out the garbage — this is a dead-end path. It is wonderful that a new economic model is being created, in which there is a place for equality and a responsible attitude. For us, these are not empty sounds.”

He said that the technology for the disposal of carbon dioxide was being worked out. Tatneft pumps it into underground layers.

“There are many problems and the technology itself is very energy-intensive. To bury one tonne of CO2, it will then be necessary to add another 600,000 and so on indefinitely," Maganov reasoned.

Where does Tatneft get its carbon dioxide from?

“This is concentrated CO2 — emissions from our thermal power plants and oil refineries are consolidated into one stream and then — for disposal, deep, deep underground," Nail Maganov later explained to journalists on the sidelines of the forum.

According to him, the technology for pumping 9 million cubic metres of gas is being tested now.

Zero waste: SIBUR for waste-free technologies

The head of Sibur, Dmitry Konov, promoted the transition to waste-free technologies:

“I personally believe that the first task of businesses and society is not to recycle plastic fallen into the ocean but not to let this plastic fall into the ocean. Our task is to look for technologies that allow us to collect and process secondary raw materials. In confirmation, he gave an example of how the company signed contracts with 32 regional garbage operators that provide it with recyclable materials.”

Head of Sibur, Dmitry Konov, promoted the transition to waste-free technologies

After all thematic categories were chosen, the black box was taken to the audience. It was offered to open to Rustam Minnikhanov, but he did not get up from his chair, but just tried to guess — chak-chak or peremyach. Talia Minullina prompted, saying “three” in English.

Inside there was the Tatar triangular pastry, symbolising the concept of cluster development, which was based on three C's — circular economy (C1), cities (C2) and cooperation with businesses (C3). Girls in national costumes began to serve ochpochmaks on trays.

After all thematic categories were chosen, the black box was taken to the audience

Later, the conversation about the replacement of traditional fuel continued on the sidelines of the forum. Answering a question about the prospects of hydrogen, Dmitry Konov said that he did not believe that hydrogen could become a source of “potential big replacement for motor fuel”.

“I think that if the number of cars with internal combustion engines will be reduced, then most likely they will be reduced in favour of electric cars, than on hydrogen. Hydrogen is extremely explosive, it is difficult to transport it. To equip millions of cars with them, you will have to create millions of sources of potential explosion on the roads. This will not happen with an electric car," he believes.

Luiza Ignatyeva. Photo: Maksim Platonov
Tatarstan