MOSCOW, 04 Nov 2021, RUSSTRAT Institute.
The G20 Climate Summit in Rome and its logical continuation, the UN Climate Conference in Glasgow (COP26), can only at first glance be called meaningless due to the lack of breakthrough agreements on the “energy transition” to “carbon neutrality”.
In fact, the main decision has been made: first the club of developed countries, and then the rest of the world, expressed their commitment to the course to combat global warming. That is, albeit with reservations, but on the whole humanity agreed with the rules of the game in the new redistribution of world wealth dictated by the “collective West”. A game that is fraught with serious problems for Russia.
Bring your money!
Despite the systemic energy crisis that has hit Europe, the main trends of the Western climate agenda were confirmed in Rome and Glasgow. First of all, the little-studied anthropogenic influence on the planet’s climate is now considered not only proven, but also fundamental.
It is now to be fought by restraining the economic development of entire continents for the sake of the obviously unattainable goal of preventing the warming of the Earth’s atmosphere by 1.5 degrees compared to the pre-industrial era (and 1.1 degrees, as stated, has already been chosen, however, it is not said by whom).
At the same time, the historical responsibility of the leading Western powers, primarily the United States and Great Britain, for global greenhouse gas emissions is canceled. Instead, all countries of the world are now obliged to resist warming.
The struggle itself will be carried out primarily through the redistribution of money and resources. The “laggards” are promised multibillion-dollar assistance, taken out of someone else’s pocket (or at best printed by the machines of Western central banks). And a too obstinate country can expect sanctions, cross-border taxes, loss of investment and a political stigma of an outcast.
And these are not just words: As US President Joe Biden said in Glasgow on the topic of “forest restoration”, Washington is going to use “diplomatic, financial and political” levers for this. This will not be hindered at all by the fact that the owner of the White House could not achieve unity on the climate strategy even within his own party.
As we can see, Western countries, and first of all the United States, have declared themselves the arbitrators of the process: it is their institutions that will appoint the perpetrators and distribute the money. To do this, they have all the necessary funds – from private funds like some billionaire Jeff Bezos’s Earth Fund, already charged with distributing other people’s billions to the “right” countries, to insurance companies, without whose approval no major investment project is possible in modern energy.
Before us is the textbook campaign “Pay and repent!”. Moreover, the perpetrators, at whose expense it is planned to arrange a banquet, have already been practically appointed – these are China and Russia. The first one “came under distribution” as the main economic competitor of the West and, formally, the current leader of the anti-rating for CO2 emissions. The second is as a power that dared to challenge the world of the “golden billion” in the fields of hydrocarbon energy.
But if the Celestial Empire is considered a “tough nut to crack” and also a supplier of up to 90% of rare earth metals needed for the production of alternative energy sources, then Russia looks like a laconic prey that is simply obliged to share with the “rest of humanity” first its billions, and then its “carb-free” natural resources, starting with fresh water.
Russia: with card sharpers at the same table
It is no coincidence that the leaders of the Russian Federation and China, Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping, did not find it possible to personally visit either Rome or Glasgow. Both countries, without directly denying the need to fight global warming, are now trying to shift the emphasis placed in Western rhetoric.
Thus, Moscow and Beijing unanimously declare that they are making no less significant contribution to curbing climate change than other Western countries. But if the Kremlin does not tire of emphasising the high rates of decarbonisation of the Russian economy, even in comparison with the G7 countries, then Zhongnanhai is trying to go from the other side, denying the White House the moral right to leadership in the “green” agenda.
Here, attention is drawn to the editorial of the CPC Global Times, in which Beijing subjected the US administration to sharp criticism for the lack of its own distinct climate program, and Joe Biden, who claims to be world laurels, for his inability to govern even America.
In turn, Russia, through the mouth of Vladimir Putin, made it clear that it considers its nuclear power plants, hydroelectric power plants and gas thermal power plants an important element of the development of low-carbon energy, and its ecosystems a key “donor” contribution to the fight against global warming.
Indeed, as the head of our state did not fail to remind in his video message to the participants of the meeting on forestry management and land use within the framework of COP26, a fifth of all the forests of the planet are located in Russia.
Together with our tundra, swamps and seas, they annually absorb, according to Putin’s statement at the April climate summit, about 2,500 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent. Thereby nullifying all Russian emissions, which, according to the president, amount to about 1600 million tons per year.
But here it is important to remember that we are looking at the assessments of the Russian leadership, while the West prefers to operate with completely different data. Suffice it to say that according to a recent statement made by a Greenpeace representative referring to the “international methodology”, Russian forests absorb only about 500 million tons of CO2 per year. And the indicators of carbon dioxide emissions in Russia in the “pre-covid” time, according to the calculations of Western funds, range from 1550 million tons to the absolutely unreal 2330 million tons.
That is, it is much more important here not “how they polluted”, but “how they calculated”. It will not be Russia that counts, but the West. Such a significant spread of figures proves that our country should be extremely careful to play with the world’s sharpers at the same table – otherwise they will be robbed blind.
An elementary example. Moscow has repeatedly agreed that it is necessary to fight not only carbon dioxide, but also, for example, methane, whose greenhouse effect is 25-28 times higher than that of CO2. And here are two pieces of news. First: in Glasgow, 90 countries joined the pact to reduce methane emissions by 30% by 2030, but Russia, China and India were not among them.
Second: the Europeans can start punishing Russia with fines and duties for “multimillion-dollar” methane emissions from its gas pipelines, which they monitor from space. Moscow and Brussels radically differ in their estimates of the scale of pollution, but who will be able to punish whom in the end is still an open question.
Perhaps the best strategy for Moscow in the “green” direction would be to join forces with other regional centres of power, which have great doubts about the good intentions of Western partners and their own capabilities to “fit in” with other people’s climate trends.