In a generally uneventful year, Russia reaffirmed its refusal to be part of a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol on climate change.
The EU seeks to cooperate with Russia – the world’s fourth-biggest emitter of greenhouse gases behind China, the United States, and India –at both the global and regional levels in reducing climate change. Cooperation on climate-change reduction was identified as a key priority in the EU–Russia Partnership for Modernisation, which was agreed in 2010. However, Russians do not in general see combating climate change as a high priority and there are differences of views among domestic actors. When climate-related policies contradict economic interests, the latter usually win.
2012 was a generally uneventful year. There was some debate in Russia over whether or not to sign the Kyoto Protocol, whose second period of emissions-reductions commitments is due to start in 2013 and continue to 2020. In the end, however, the country stuck to the decision to stay out which it had made in late 2011. But Moscow did promise to be part of a new global climate treaty, which is to be negotiated by 2015 and made operational by 2020. At the same time, together with Ukraine and Belarus, Russia almost derailed the UN climate talks in Doha in December. The three countries insisted that they should be allowed extra credit for the emissions cuts they made when their industries collapsed in the 1990s. Poland also voiced similar arguments and held back the rest of the EU until it received assurances that its emissions cuts would be treated flexibly. In the end, the conference made it possible for the Kyoto Protocol to be replaced by a new treaty to tackle climate change by 2015.
Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev also promised to slash carbon emissions to 25 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 – not exactly a tall order, given that Russian emissions dropped sharply after 1990 and stood 34 percent below that year’s level in 2010.