After months of speculation and tensions regarding #Russia’s commitment to fighting #climate change, the Russian Federation has officially joined the #Paris Agreement. Seeing as Russia is the world’s fourth-largest emitter of greenhouse gases, it is fair to say that it is about time their participation became official.
Ruslan Edelgeriev, Vladimir #Putin’s climate advisor, spoke at the United Nations Climate Action Summit in September. He discussed Russia’s impacts on climate change, as well as the country’s newfound commitment to join the fight against greenhouse gas emissions and other factors contributing to climate change.
Alexey Kokorin, World Wildlife Fund climate program director of Russia, mentioned to Climate Home News that “Russia recognizes the importance of the climate problem,” and is not in opposition to its impacts.
However, there is still work to be done in terms of Russia’s current climate change commitments. According to the Climate Action Tracker (CAT), an independent scientific analysis organization that has been globally tracking climate change efforts since 2009, their current pledges have been labeled as “critically insufficient” — the lowest score one can achieve according to their scale.
Climate officer for Greenpeace, Vasily Yablokov is optimistic that Russia’s adoption of the Paris Agreement will, “increase the chances of preventing a global climate catastrophe.” That is, if action is taken immediately. Yablokov is adamant that, “there is no time left for compromises and attempts to maintain the status quo of fossil power.”
Putin’s Resistance to Climate Change
While Putin has never outright stated that he is a climate change denier, he has at times turned a blind eye to the impacts Russia has had on climate change. He has even joked that Russia could use warmer weather so that the country’s citizens might spend less on winter coats and enjoy the benefits of increased crop yields. However, Putin isn’t laughing now – especially after the release of the most recent climate change report. According to the National Weather Service, the average temperature in Russia alone is increasing by 0.47 degrees Celsius every 10 years, according to data collected between 1976 and 2018. This increase is 150% faster than global averages.
In light of this statistic, Putin stated back in July that continuing to use traditional methods of #energy output and consumption “inevitably means new risks and further climate change.” In the same breath, however, Putin has mentioned that any decrease in fuel exports may harm economic growth in Russia. Russian economist Igor Makarov, with the assistance of collaborators from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, estimated that Russia’s economic growth will slow by 0.2%-0.3% per year if all countries achieve the goals laid out in the Paris Agreement.
The Russian government is currently in the process of reviewing laws that will regulate greenhouse gas emissions, as well as plans for low-carbon development and adaptation.
The Paris Agreement – What’s Next?
The Paris Agreement was first formed in December of 2015 at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Paris. It is a landmark agreement that brings together various nations for a common cause, namely, a global effort to combat climate change. Each country that agrees to the Paris Agreement must outline their plans for post-2020 climate change initiatives through what are known as Nationally Determined Contributions, or NDC’s. Since its genesis, 196 countries have joined the Paris Agreement.
The Paris Agreement addresses all facets contributing to climate change, including the pursuit of efforts that will keep global temperatures from rising, taking all possible measures to minimize the impacts of climate change, as well as education, transparency, and global cooperation.
There are eleven countries that have yet to join the Paris Agreement, including Iran, Iraq, Angola, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Libya, South Sudan, Yemen, Oman, Eritrea, and Suriname.
Combating climate change is ultimately a global effort. To see any kind of changes in the coming decades that will ensure the sustainability of our planet, all world leaders will need to work together to financially and economically follow through with the tasks laid out in the Paris Agreement and each NDC. Russia’s official commitment to fighting climate change comes not a moment too soon and we can hope that other countries may begin to do the same.