Russian Climate Plan Sees Rising Emissions Countered by Forests
(Bloomberg) -- Russia expects to increase greenhouse gas emissions over the next 30 years and instead rely on its trees to meet its international climate obligations, according to a draft of the nation’s low-carbon development strategy.
Emissions are seen rising 8.2% from 2019 levels to 2.29 billion tons of CO2 equivalent by 2050, according to the base-case scenario in the draft prepared by the Economy Ministry. The plan says the growth will be more than compensated for by doubling the estimated absorption capacity of Russia’s forests thanks to planting trees, reducing the number of fires and restoring wetlands.
While Russia’s vast forests, which are bigger than India, are a critical carbon sink for the planet, obtaining accurate data on sequestration from woodlands is difficult. The government’s targets are challenged by the record-breaking wildfires that have ravaged its forests for each of the last three years.
Smoke from this year’s Siberian wildfires have clouded the North Pole for the first time in recorded history, according to the EU’s Copernicus program. Carbon dioxide emissions from fires in the Sakha Republic through early August were nearly double total emissions for 2020, the agency said.
Russia, the world’s fourth-biggest polluter, has been regularly criticized for its failure to set more ambitious targets. Carbon Action Tracker, a U.K.-based nonprofit, rates its policies as “critically insufficient.”
Under the base-case scenario, the ministry expects a carbon market to develop after the implementation of voluntary climate projects, while emission quotas will be introduced as an experiment only in a few pilot regions.
Putin signed a climate law last month that creates a framework for projects in Russia and allows trading in carbon units that result from emission cuts or sequestration. The bill also requires the nation’s biggest polluters to report their emission levels to regulators.
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