On 31 March 2015, the Russian Federation submitted its Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC), proposing to reduce its emissions of net greenhouse gases (GHG) by 25% to 30% below the 1990 level by 2030. After accounting for forestry this is a reduction of only 6% to 11% below 1990 levels of GHG emissions excluding land use, land use change and forestry (LULUCF), and an increase of 30% to 38% compared to 2012 levels. Based on this target we rate Russia “inadequate”.
The INDC states that this target is subject to “the maximum possible account of absorbing capacity of forests.” However, it does not provide any further information on which accounting rules it has used, nor the potential magnitude of their impact on emissions levels in 2030. Our interpretation of this is that the Russian Federation will use a net–net approach .
Russia’s emissions dropped substantially after 1990 and forestry emissions have turned from an emissions source into an emissions sink. Given Russia’s projected forestry sink of around 0.5 GtCO2e in 2030 (Russian Federation, 2014a), our assessment is that Russia’s proposed commitment for 2030 allows GHG emissions excluding LULUCF to grow significantly from the current levels to 3.0 to 3.2 GtCO2e in 2030 (excluding LULUCF): 6% to 11% below 1990 levels. To achieve this proposed target, Russian needs to take no further action other than its currently implemented policies.
The “inadequate” rating indicates that the Russian commitment is not in line with interpretations of a “fair” approach to reach a 2°C pathway. To be rated “sufficient” Russia would have to put forward a much more stringent target.
Russia has previously made a commitment to reduce emissions by 25% below 1990 levels by 2020. It is unclear whether forestry sinks are taken into account for this target. Even if these are excluded, this still implies an increase of 10% compared to the 2012 emissions level (excluding LULUCF) and is rated to be an “inadequate” level of ambition (2010 industrial GHG emissions were already 32% below 1990 levels).
To be on track for its long-term target, which we also rate “inadequate”, Russia’s emissions would need to peak and start declining at much higher rates of reduction post-2030.
On 31 March 2015, the Russian Federation submitted its INDC, proposing that by 2030, it would aim at reducing emissions by 25% to 30% below the 1990 level (UNFCCC, 2015). This target was announced at the UN Climate Summit in September 2014 (Russian Federation, 2014b).
Russia’s INDC is an economy-wide target and includes all greenhouse gases. In the INDC text, it is specifically stated that the target is subject to the maximum possible accounting of the absorbing capacity of forests. How forestry emissions are to be accounted for is not clear. Our interpretation of this is that the Russian Federation will use a net–net approach , that would allow for the highest GHG emissions excluding LULUCF in 2030. Including emissions from the land-use, land-use change and forestry (LULUCF) sector, this implies an emissions level of 2.5 to 2.6 GtCO2e in 2030 (25–30% below 1990 net emissions).
The Russian Sixth National Communication (Russian Federation, 2014a) projects LULUCF to be a large sink of around 0.5 GtCO2e in 2030, which would lead to final allowed emissions levels (excluding LULUCF) of 3.0 to 3.2 GtCO2e. This represents a reduction of only 6% to 11% below 1990 levels excluding LULUCF emissions. Compared to the 2012 emissions level, this represents an increase in emissions excluding LULUCF of 30% to 38%. While Russia is likely to achieve this target with currently implemented policies the INDC is very vague about the firmness of Russia’s commitment (it states that the pledged emissions level “might be a long-term indicator”).
In the Copenhagen Accord, the Russian Federation pledged a reduction of 15 to 25% below 1990 emissions by 2020. This implies an emissions level of 2.5 to 2.8 GtCO2e in 2020, assuming LULUCF emissions are excluded from the target. Although the pledge is a reduction compared to 1990 levels, it represents a 14 to 29% increase from the 2010 emissions level.
In September 2013, the Russian Federation adopted Decree No. 752 On Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions, which set a target of reducing emissions by 2020 to 75% of 1990 levels (Russian Federation, 2014a). This target was reaffirmed in Decree No. 504-p in April 2014 (Russian Federation, 2014d). This commitment is in line with the lower end of the Copenhagen pledge range. Committing unconditionally to the more ambitious end of the Copenhagen target range would be a step in the right direction. However, this pledge is still rated “inadequate”.
In neither of the Decrees is the accounting for forestry emissions mentioned. In previous assessments we have assumed the target excludes accounting for forestry sinks. The inclusion of forestry sinks in Russia’s post-2020 INDC is an indication that Russia may include forestry emissions in its 2020 pledge as well. The CAT assesses that if this is the case (and considering the same net-net approach applied above) the target level in 2020 would be 3.3 GtCO2e instead (or 2% below 1990 levels).
Russia’s Kyoto target for the first commitment period was 0% relative to 1990 levels, which is also above BAU emissions and led to a surplus of 6 MtCO2e for the first commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol.
We rate Russia’s emissions reduction commitment “inadequate” for all years.
Russia states in its INDC that “Reducing GHG emissions by 25–30% from 1990 levels by 2030 will allow the Russian Federation to step on the path of low-carbon development compatible with the long-term objective of the increase in global temperature below 2 degrees Celsius” (UNFCCC. 2015). However, we assess that Russia’s 2020 pledge and its INDC are not in line with interpretations of a “fair” approach to reach a 2°C pathway. Russia's long-term target is also inadequate: It is consistent with only one category of fairness that focuses on capability, which is an outlier category. The lower end of the “sufficient” range for Russia is determined by approaches that focus on equal cumulative per capita emissions.
Currently implemented policies will lead to emissions of 2.4–2.5 GtCO2e (excluding LULUCF) in 2020 and around 2.6–2.7 GtCO2e in 2030. This represents a decrease of emissions from 1990 levels of 27–28% in 2020 and 21–22% in 2030. Emissions from land use play an important part in Russia's inventory. If these were taken into account, emissions including LULUCF would be 49–50% lower compared to the 1990 value, at 1.8 GtCO2e in 2020 and 39–40% lower at 2.1 GtCO2e in 2030. Considering the uncertainties around the LULUCF accounting, however, this additional effect is questionable and depends on policy interventions in the future.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union, emissions in Russia dropped in the 1990s, with a historic low of just below 2 GtCO2e (excluding LULUCF) in 1998—down 40% from 1990 levels. Since then, emissions have increased steadily, experiencing only a small impact from the financial crisis, and are expected to continue on the same trend until 2030.
Russia’s climate policy environment has a clear focus on energy production and demand. Russia has formulated two different, but similar, energy intensity targets in different pieces of legislation. The two targets refer to different target years and baselines. In 2008, Russia adopted the “Decree on Certain Measures to Increase Energy and Ecological Efficiency of the Russian Economy,” which includes an energy intensity target of a 40% reduction between 2007 and 2020. In 2009, Russia adopted the Energy Strategy 2030 and the Energy Efficiency Federal Law., which include a slightly different energy intensity target of 44% reduction between 2005 and 2030 (UNFCCC, 2012; Sharmina et al., 2013).
In 2009, the “Decree on the Main Directions of State Policy in Improving Energy Efficiency of the Electric Power Industry Based on Renewable Energy Sources” until 2020 was adopted. This included a 2.5% renewable electricity production and consumption target for 2015, excluding electricity from large-scale hydropower, rising to 4.5% in 2020 (UNFCCC, 2012). The Russian government has outlined different programmes of measures to achieve this target, but implementation is lagging.
Although the 4.5% target for 2020 has never been amended, more recent government documents refer to a 2.5% target for 2020, such as Resolution No. 512-r on the State Program of Energy Efficiency and the Development of the Energy Sector, (IFC, 2013a; IFC, 2013b). This 2.5% target is in line with capacity-based targets of adding 3600 MW of wind power, 1520 MW of solar power and 751 of small scale hydro power over the period 2014–2020 outlined in Resolution No. 861 and referred to in Decree No. 449 on the Mechanism for the Promotion of Renewable Energy on the Wholesale Electricity and Capacity Market) (Russian Federation, 2013a; Russian Federation, 2013b).
Russia has historically had high emissions related to the flaring of natural gas. In 2009, the Decree on Measures to Stimulate the Reduction of Air Pollution from Associated Gas Flaring Products was adopted, targeting a utilisation rate of 95% for associated petroleum gas by 2012. Since this target has not been met, additional incentives for compliance were added in 2012.
Targets for 2020, 2030 and 2050 were calculated from national inventory submissions (CRF, 2014). For 2020 and 2050 we assume that LULUCF emissions are not included in the pledge. For 2020 we also a show the pledged emissions level if LULUCF emissions were to be included. For the 2030 INDC LULUCF emissions are included. To quantify the pledges taking into account LULUCF accounting, we used LULUCF emission projections from the Sixth National Communication (Russian Federation, 2014a).
We calculated the Russian Federation's LULUCF accounting quantities in 2020 for afforestation, reforestation and deforestation using the current Kyoto rules. For forest management the reference level is the 1990 carbon budget.
Current policy projections
Historic data are taken from the inventory data submitted to the UNFCCC until the last available year being 2012 (CRF, 2014). The current trend projections are based on the World Energy Outlook 2015 Current Policy scenario projections for CO2 from fuel combustion until 2030 (IEA, 2014), the US EPA non-CO2 (US EPA, 2012) emission projections until 2030 and extrapolation of the historic trend for other CO2 emissions. Additionally, the flaring limit and renewable electricity generation targets are quantified. The reduction from limiting flaring is based on historic flaring data from NOAA (2011), historic oil production data from IEA (2013) and projections for oil production of the BP energy outlook (BP, 2014). The renewable electricity generation target is based on the World Energy Outlook 2014 Current Policy Scenario (IEA, 2014). With these current policies projections the 2030 energy intensity target is achieved.
Our current policy projections are in line with the ‘with-measures’ scenario from Russia’s Sixth National Communication to the UNFCCC, which foresees an increase in emissions from the 2010 level up to 2.4 GtCO2e in 2020 and 2.6 GtCO2e in 2030 (Russian Federation, 2014a).
BP (2014). BP Energy Outlook 2035.
CRF (2014). UNFCCC AWG-KP Submissions 2014. Common Reporting Format.
IEA (2013). Energy Balances. International Energy Agency. Paris.
IEA (2015). World Energy Outlook 2015. International Energy Agency. Paris
IFC (2013a). Russia’s New Capacity –based Renewable Energy Support Scheme. International Finance Corporation.
NOAA (2011). Global Flaring Estimates.
Russian Federation (2010). Pledge of the Russian Federation to the Copenhagen Accord. Compiled in: Compilation of economy-wide emission reduction targets to be implemented by Parties included in Annex I to the Convention, UNFCCC (2011).
Russian Federation (2013a). Resolution No. 861.
Russian Federation (2013b). Decree No. 449.
Russian Federation (2014a). Sixth National Communication of the Russian Federation.
Russian Federation (2014b). Statement by Mr. Alexander Bedritskiy, Advisor to the President of the Russian Federation, Special Presidential Representative on Climate Issues at UN Climate Summit, National Action and Ambition Announcements New York, 23 September 2014.
Russian Federation (2014c). First Biennial Report of the Russian Federation.
Russian Federation (2014d). Decree No. 504-p.
Shamina, M., Anderson, K., & Bows-Larkin, A. (2013). Climate change regional review: Russia. WIREs Climate Change.
UNFCCC (2015). Russian Submission INDC.
USEPA (2012). Global Mitigation of Non-CO2 Greenhouse Gases. Washington, D.C., USA.
 „Net-Net” refers to an accounting approach where the base year includes industrial GHG emissions less removals/plus sources of CO2 and other GHGs due to land sector activities—net emissions—which is then used as the basis for the target in a given year or period, where the target includes the same sources and/or sinks as in the base year. In this accounting approach a large fluctuation in land sector emissions or removals can cause a significant change in the emissions of industrial GHGs in the target year. A large increase in removals in the land sector (such as forestry) would provide a large “credit”, or increase, in the allowed emission of industrial sources of GHGs.