Russia Says 2C Climate Goal Shouldn’t Dictate Carbon Pledges

Russia said the United Nations-endorsed goal of keeping global temperatures from rising 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) shouldn’t dictate countries’ emission limits in a new climate treaty.

The “only reasonable” method is for countries to make emissions pledges according to economic development, natural and geographic characteristics, and financial and technical capacity, the country said in a statement yesterday on the website of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Climate talks have stalled as developed and developing nations debate who should make the most effort to cut heat-trapping emissions from fossil fuels. Scientists on the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change last month recommended the world cut emissions as much as 72 percent from 2010 levels by 2050 to keep temperatures within the 2-degree limit.

“Countries’ common goal of not allowing the global average temperature to rise above 2 degrees Celsius should not become the point of departure for a ‘top-down’ delineation of who pledges what,” Russia said in a translation of its statement.

Nations are hammering out a treaty due to be signed next year and come into effect in 2020. The goal of the pact is to limit temperature gains since the industrial revolution to 2 degrees Celsius, though island nations are seeking a target of 1.5 degrees to protect them from rising sea levels.

Gas Producer

Russia’s emissions from energy fell 0.5 percent in 2012 to 1.7 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide, equivalent to 4.9 percent of the global total, according to statistics published on the website of BP Plc. The country is the world’s second-biggest producer of crude oil and natural gas.

In its statement to the UNFCCC, Russia said carbon markets could help make climate protection more effective and the base year used should be 1990, the same as for the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. Russia’s emissions have dropped 28 percent since 1990, BP data show.

Russia’s plan could prevent arguments about ambition from “scuppering” a climate agreement being sought by 2015, said Bob Ward, policy director at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics.

“This is a pragmatic approach which could work as long as countries do increase their ambitions after the agreement is signed,” he said today by e-mail. “The risk is that it allows an agreement that locks in ambition that is inconsistent with the goal of avoiding global warming of more than 2 Centigrade degrees.”

Ukrainian Separatists

Russian President Vladimir Putin said yesterday his nation may retaliate against sanctions being imposed by the U.S. and Europe for the nation’s support of separatists in Ukraine. Such a move could limit foreign investment in Russia’s oil and gas reserves.

U.S. carbon dioxide emissions from energy have risen 6.2 percent to 5.79 billion tons since 1990, according to BP’s figures.

In February, the U.S. said the 2020 climate agreement may not need to be binding internationally and may emphasize the “importance of the domestic measures that underpin” a country’s contribution and laws and regulations they have introduced, according to a statement published by the UNFCCC.

“It is paramount that a new instrument under the post-2020 climate regime be legally binding and set commitments not only for developed countries, but also measures to be taken by developing ones,” Russia said in its report to the UNFCCC. “While the substance of the climate actions to be taken by developed and developing countries may differ, they should be enshrined in a single international legal instrument.”

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