The agenda of the meeting that focused on the implementation of the climate policy also included several other current issues.
Reports on the current coronavirus situation were delivered by Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova, Healthcare Minister Mikhail Murashko, Head of the Federal Service for the Oversight of Consumer Protection and Welfare – Chief State Sanitary Physician Anna Popova and Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin.
Minister of Labour and Social Protection Anton Kotyakov updated the meeting participants on youth employment support measures.
Education Minister Sergei Kravtsov reported on the performance of the Russian national team at the EuroSkills Competition, which was held on September 23–26, 2021, in Graz, Austria. Gold winners Diana Bagautdinova and Sagdiana Rustamova, as well as Director General of WorldSkills Russia Robert Urazov, spoke about preparations for the competition and the possibility of applying its methods to train young professionals across the country.
Deputy Prime Minister Viktoria Abramchenko reported on the elimination of unauthorised dumping sites within city boundaries.
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President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Colleagues, good afternoon.
We have a very serious and important item on our agenda today. It has to do with climate change and our response to what is happening in the world, in the global economy, and in our own.
But first of all, we need to consider several current matters, which are no less important. The most significant of them is, naturally, the coronavirus response effort, so I would ask Ms Golikova, and then Mr Murashko and Anna Popova to give us an update.
Go ahead, please.
Vladimir Putin: As for climate, we agreed to hold an in-depth discussion on this issue back during the St Petersburg International Economic Forum.
We will talk about the transformation of the energy sector at a separate meeting tomorrow; it is a very important matter. We have approached it several times before, and tomorrow we will talk about it in greater detail.
And now we will discuss our actions within the framework of the climate agenda. Climate change is a common, global problem. Like many other countries, we can see and feel all the threats and risks in this sphere, including desertification, soil erosion, and the thawing of permafrost, which occupies over 60 percent of our territory. Moreover, the mean annual temperature is rising in Russia 2.5 times faster than the world’s average, as we all know and as I have mentioned many times before. Over the past 10 years, it has increased by nearly 0.5 degrees. The speed of warming in the Arctic is even higher.
This accounts for our informed and serious approach to the problem of global warming. We are ensuring and will continue to ensure Russia’s consistent compliance with all of its obligations and support for the relevant international initiatives, first of all the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement.
The goal formulated in my Address to the Federal Assembly is to reduce the cumulative emissions in Russia over the next 30 years to a level below that in the EU, which is an ambitious goal. However, on our way towards this objective we must also deal with one more task: while reducing the negative effects of the Russian economy on climate worldwide, we must at the same time ensure the highest pace of our economic growth. At first glance, this looks like two different goals, but it is this result that we must achieve by implementing Russia’s socioeconomic development strategy with a low greenhouse gas emission level by 2050.
The Government has already prepared a relevant project, and next on our agenda is a detailed plan of action to reduce the carbon intensity of the national economy. I would like to ask you to tell us about the drafting of this plan and the concrete timeframe for its implementation.
I would like to specifically discuss ways to reduce net greenhouse gas emissions. There are many options here. We do not need to blindly choose any established or standard solutions. We need to select plans with the most significant cumulative economic effect per tonne of emissions reduced. We certainly must act competently and take full advantage of the opportunities that are being opened up by the current and future changes in the global economy, especially projects that bring direct benefits to the national economy and at the same time lead to a noticeable reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.
Russia is actually implementing such plans now. One of them has to do with associated petroleum gas utilisation in the oil industry. I would like to emphasise this once again, although I have said it many times before – in this respect, we can safely say we are ahead of the whole planet, because as far as I am aware of, no other country has ever reported such high volume of APG utilisation.
Hence another issue we are working on, and I am referring to the electrification of the oil and gas transportation infrastructure, and significant investment in the petrochemical and gas chemical industry, extremely important things. A programme for the comprehensive modernisation of the thermal power segment is implemented in power generation. Projects to improve efficiency and energy efficiency have also been launched.
We are introducing new technologies and materials in construction. A very important area – we are upgrading the heat supply system, converting public transport to electricity and gas. I ask the Government to intensify this work.
You all know, and we have talked about this many times: we need to invest in the development of an appropriate infrastructure. Suppose there is no refuelling infrastructure, say, for gas vehicles – then, that does it, everything will freeze. Action plans need to be updated with more ambitious targets. The most effective projects are concentrated precisely in these areas, both in terms of economic results and positive climate impact.
It is important to take into account the changing structure of the global economy, which is pushing up demand for certain commodities such as copper and rare earth metals. This should be reflected in the long-term plans of our geological exploration and extractive industry.
Yet another priority is the further development of green energy. The Russian energy production pattern has moved to the fore in the world in this regard. The share of power produced by nuclear power plants, hydropower stations, wind turbine generators and solar electric plants has exceeded 37 percent in Russia. We must certainly use these competitive technological advantages, to speed up the implementation of projects in the nuclear power industry, to proactively develop small-scale hydropower plants, and use the potential of high and low tides. This is being actively discussed all over the world and we have something to work on in this area. We even have certain competitive advantages in this regard. We will probably talk about this tomorrow. Russia has the potential to emerge as a leader in the budding world hydrogen and fuel ammonia market.
Apart from the nuclear and other traditional sources, there are, as I said, non-standard solutions, such as deriving energy from the tides. The case in point must be primarily the Russian Far East, but other regions have potential in this regard as well. All these possibilities should be thoroughly calculated and analysed.
Neither should we forget about [ensuring] the sustainable development of the oil-and-gas industry and the coal industry. You can see what is taking place in Europe, where there is hysteria and confusion on the markets. Why so? Because no one wants to take this seriously. Some people are trying to gamble on climate change problems, others tend to underestimate this or that, still others are starting to cut down investment in the extractive industries. The transition must be orderly. Orderly! It is quite certain that we in this country have every opportunity to avoid these mistakes. We see what certain ill-balanced decisions, unbalanced development, and U-turns can lead to. Today, as I said, this can be clearly seen on the European energy market. As I said, we will discuss this topic tomorrow.
It is obvious that cutting emissions would not be enough to resolve the issue of global warming. Greenhouse gas removal projects are equally important, as we have discussed on numerous occasions, and Russia has immense potential for carrying out these initiatives. Our forests, the tundra, agricultural lands, marshes and oceans possess tremendous capacity to absorb greenhouse gases. In order to unleash this potential we need to make sure that forests and land are used many times more effectively than they are today. This is where fighting wildfires comes in.
We need to expand areas subject to reforestation, expand the pristine wilderness and master new agricultural technology. I have already issued an instruction to this effect: to enact a comprehensive legal framework by July 2022 to ensure the implementation of climate-related projects that are be recognised globally, and engage in this activity in Russia, of course. Given how vast Russia is, as well as its global standing and role, Russian climate-related projects provide ample opportunities for international cooperation for decades to come. Make no mistake, they can play a leading role in global efforts to prevent climate change.
It is clear that businesses need effective incentives to launch projects of this kind. There are plans to create so-called carbon markets, and a pilot project to create one on Sakhalin is already underway. This region can reach carbon neutrality as early as in 2026, and serve as a point of departure for developing the national market for trading in carbon units.
Reporting on greenhouse gas emissions and removal is also critical, so there must be no delay in creating a national monitoring system for this purpose. Researchers can play an essential role in ensuring that climate-related data are accurate. Efforts to deploy a network of so-called carbon ranges in Russia are already underway. They will be used to test carbon dioxide emissions control and removal solutions and study the absorbing capacity across all ecosystems.
Today, I am asking the Government to deliver a progress report on drafting a scientific and technical programme on eco-friendly development and climate change by 2030.
Colleagues, all the areas I have just highlighted not only require our attention, but compel us to take informed decisions, and to understand where this will take us and how much this will cost. The fact that I put a special emphasis on understanding the consequences of the initiatives we intend to undertake was not a coincidence.
Let me reiterate that reducing negative climate impacts should not loom as an onerous burden on businesses and Russian nationals. On the contrary, all the decisions we take must be designed to serve as drivers of economic growth and technological development of Russian economy.