Medvedev offers $200 million in climate financing to needy countries at UN climate talks

Publish date: December 18, 2009

Written by: Charles Digges

COPENHAGEN – Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said in a short speech here that Russia intends to pursue carbon reductions regardless of whether Copenhagen produces a deal, and that it will contribute to $200 million to $100 billon fund to support poor nations.

He announced that Russia would pursue a programme of increasing its energy efficiency by 40 percent over the next decade in order to achieve these cuts.

Medvedev also said Russia, a signatory of the Kyoto Protocol, would strive to keep its emissions at 25 percent below 1990 levels – but only if other major emitter signed on to their own emissions reductions as well.

Medvedev stressed in his appearance that a new comprehensive draft document on international climate cooperation is needed by 2012 to replace the Kyoto Protocol as the world’s only legally binding climate treaty.

“Before the first phase of the Kyoto Protocol is completed, in other words by 2012, it is necessary to prepare a more advanced and effective mechanism, a viable document that will regulate international co-operation issues,” Medvedev told the gathered leaders here.

“First and foremost, this document should be comprehensive and should be based on the principles of justice and shared responsibility,” the Russian president added.

Medvedev also expressed hopes that delegates would quickly grasp the need for prompt roadmap leading to an eventually binding agreement – with luck – by next year’s UN Climate talks in Mexico City.

“Judging by the way the discussion has developed in this room and in small working groups, [it will be] a long and complicated road to travel,” Medvedev said.

“But we shouldn’t despair, because mankind has managed to deal with some very complicated issues and has learned to provide harmonious responses to many of these challenges.”

He did not mention enhancing Russia’s reliance on nuclear power, as was suggested in an earlier draft of his speech presented last week on the presidential website at

Medvedev flew to Copenhagen to deliver his short speech Friday at the end of the chaotic two-week United Nations climate change summit, where negotiators will hope to present to a draft text by evening today.  

Russia’s contribution to the summit has been minimal, with the major problem being a deadlock between United States and China on carbon cuts. Russia, however, is also the world’s third-largest emitter, after the United States and China, and Medvedev said he had a responsibility to be on board the negotiations.

The appearance of Medvedev at the summit also led to some climactic positive developments at home, notably his signing of Russia’s Climate Doctrine, which had been in deep freeze since it was first mentioned in May.

One diplomat describe Russia’s Climate Doctrine as being a “plan to make a plan,” presenting little in the way of what to implement in terms of climate change mitigation in favour simply acknowledging that anthropogenic climate change is a fact.

The document goes on to suggesting that a raft of studies be prepared on how Russia should approach mitigation and adaptation, acknowledging –  in what is apparently new language inserted since its first draft in May – Russia’s responsibility to the international community to do so.

Though many questions still linger about it, Russia negotiation officials and Russian Embassy officials here in Copenhagen agreed that it was needed to give Medvedev credibility in the climate talks.

Hopes for a strong UN climate pact appeared slim until U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced Thursday that Washington supported the creation of a $100 billion fund by 2020, adding political drive to negotiations. But much of that drive was deflated this morning when it was announced an overnight session to craft a draft proposal had been chucked.

Kremlin aide Arkady Dvorkovich told The Moscow Times Russia would consider the summit, the climax of two years of talks, a success if major emitters from both developed and developing countries agreed on their own emissions cuts.

“We realize that signing a global agreement in Copenhagen is virtually impossible. Nevertheless, this conference is one of the stages toward the signing of such an agreement,” he said.

He said Russia was ready to cut emissions by 25 percent from 1990 levels by 2020, but only if the United States, China and other emitters agreed to fair reductions as well.

Medvedev said earlier this week that a new climate pact would only work if all countries cooperated on cuts. “Our piecemeal efforts will be ineffective and senseless,” he said in his videoblog Monday.

Nevertheless, Russia is not insisting that all countries cut emissions as they tackle global warming because there are other measures that can be taken as well. But all countries have to adopt some kind of measures, he said.

“This is a key principle for us, and an agreement will not be reached without it,” Dvorkovich said.

The Kremlin aid said poor nations needed assistance relinquishing fossil fuels and Russia was prepared to contribute $200 million in climate aid.

The Copenhagen summit is meant to reach a global climate deal that would serve as the foundation for a legally binding treaty next year to succeed the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012. The measures aim to avoid dangerous climate change and promote a greener global economy less dependent on fossil fuels.

Russia’s emissions fell by about 40 percent from 1990 and 2000, leaving it with a surplus of carbon credits. Under the Kyoto Protocol, a country with a surplus of emissions quotas may sell them to other countries.

This is an unlikely scenario according to Russian negotiators here in Copenhagen however. More likely, according to Oleg Shamanov, is that Russia will keep the credits for itself, and sell a small number of them to nations in need.

Alexei Kokorin, head of the World Wldlife Federation, Russia, said Russia may sell some quotas to China or Japan, which are failing to fulfil Kyoto’s conditions.

“It’s more of an issue of saving political face for Japan and Canada. It’s a political problem rather than an economic one,” Kokorin said.

He said Russia might sell quotas to Japan or Canada, which fail to fulfill the conditions of Kyoto Protocol.

“It’s more of an issue of saving political face for Japan and Canada. It’s a political problem rather than an economic one,” Kokorin said.

Russia could also sell smaller slices of quotas to Italy and Spain, Kokorin said.

Oleg Pluzhnikov, a senior official from the Economic Development Ministry, said earlier this week in Copenhagen that Sberbank was negotiating a possible sale of quotas. He said some sales might take place before the Kyoto Protocol expires.