European Parliament

MEPs in Moscow for talks on climate change

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Source: European Parliament

MEPs were in Moscow recently to hold talks with Russian MPs and government official on steps to tackle climate change. By December next year the world must have plans for a post-Kyoto agreement that will limit CO2 emissions and it is vital that Russia, as a key producer of fossil fuels, is involved.

A nine-strong delegation of MEPs from the temporary Committee on Climate Change held talks with Russian MPs, members of the Russian government and NGOs in Moscow from 27-29 October, to explore attitudes towards a possible Kyoto deal.
 
The world need only to look at Russia's ratification of the Kyoto treaty to see how influential they are: 'We would like Russia to again play an important role...we would like Russia to be a leader in negotiations: to play a proactive role', said Slovenian MEP Romana Jordan Cizelj of the EPP-ED group.
 
Vittorio Prodi, head of the delegation and vice-chair of the committee said, Russia's 'interest is the continuation of the fossil fuel supply, preferably with the highest margin. On the other hand it is also in their interests to mitigate global warming.'
 
He stressed that the move away from fossil fuels 'can be done in a way that the Russian federation also benefits in terms of technology or energy efficiency.'
 
Russian economic growth
 
Keen to stress the supply and demand relationship, Dorette Corbey of the Socialist group pointed to the long trading relationship with Russia: 'Russia is eager to continue to sell gas. Gas is a very nice product because it combines very well with sustainable wind energy because it is flexible. So I told them the chances are high we will be a stable buyer of gas.'
 
However, Ms Jordan Cizelj said Russia's priority is economic growth and not necessarily a climate efficient industry: 'In Russia, climate change is not a priority, the priority in Russia is economic growth.' The comment is backed by statistics showing Russia's ambitious plans of 5-6% growth annually and an increase in popular incomes by 40% in the next four years.
 
Russia has always been a nation that was in denial of climate change. They believed that a 2 degree rise in temperature would open up new areas of Siberia and perhaps allow them to become inhabitable, said Ms Corbey.  However serious concerns have been raised within Russia concerning the melting of the permafrost, on which many structures and industry are built. 'The whole infrastructure is threatened. They now recognise it as a problem which means it's an enormous gain for the rest of the world.'
 
Russia will increase energy efficiency by 40%
 
Russia's President Medvedev recently signed a decree on energy intensity aimed at improving energy efficiency 40% by 2020 from 2007 levels.
 
Ms Corbey said, '40% seems a lot, but when you look at how they handle energy over there, it won't be difficult to reach that. They have many buildings in which all flats are heated equally and to cool the flat, people open their windows because they cannot turn off the heat. They want to give people individual gas meters.' The delegation said social issues like these could lead to massive climate change savings.
 
Hope for the post-Bush era
 
The climate committee has also visited China, India, Bangladesh and the US. There is a lot of hope around the new US President. Delegation members believe the leadership change could lead to a new climate era, post-Bush: 'Obama has been very outspoken during his campaign on the fact that there needs to be a climate change/energy policy and that these problems need to be addressed. So I expect that the US will want to be a partner of the EU,' said Ms Corbey.

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