Russia too green for green technologies

The idea of "green growth" that suggests environmentally friendly production, energy efficiency and rational approach to the development of new resources may help the Russian economy. However, the Russian leadership is not in a hurry to develop this direction comprehensively, while resource-poor countries consider "green" ideas very seriously.

The twenty-fourth annual meeting of the leaders of the Asia-Pacific region will be held in Vladivostok in September of this year, and in Khabarovsk a meeting of the Ministers of Tourism and Environment is held, in anticipation of this major event.

The transition to the concept of "green growth" must be gradual to avoid adverse effects on the social sphere in the country, deputy director of the Russian Research center ATES Gleb Ivashevtsev told the journalists at the meeting on the environmental issues under the framework of the Asian Pacific Forum held in Khabarovsk.

"In the future we will move on to more environmentally friendly production, but we cannot do it right away. Experience of other countries shows that six or seven years are required to transfer to eco-friendly production. We must consider environmental and social issues so that they do not hit the workers," RIA Novosti quoted Gleb Ivashevtsev.

The concept of "green growth" was first officially announced in 2005 in Asia. It was presented at the 5th Conference of Ministers of Environment of Asia-Pacific region held in Seoul. The basic principles of this concept are based on the ecological efficiency of the economic activities and sustainable resources. The so-called green taxes are a major element of the government regulation in this area and the external marker for the development in this direction.

For Russia, with its pronounced raw-material orientation, active implementation of such standards, both domestically and in neighboring states, means gradual reduction in export volumes of hydrocarbons. This means that Russia is unlikely to be an active advocate for such measures.

The lack of movement in this direction may soon become almost an official basis for the discrimination of domestic goods and services on the world market and the weakening of entire sectors of the Russian economy. This happened, for example, in civil aviation, which proved to be too noisy for Europe.

"It is not ruled out that some restrictions can be applied to our other goods," said Ivashevtsev.

Back in 1996 Russia has adopted the concept of transition to sustainable development. If we perceive the decline in the population as an optimization component in the framework of sustainable growth, some progress has been made. However, in the field of the environmental degradation the Russian Federation is still one of the leaders.

So far Russia is successfully eating its natural potential away. If in the pre-crisis 2007 official GDP grew by 7.4 percent, the net savings correcting the growth with resource depletion and environmental degradation were minus 13.8 percent.
Now the Russian authorities have selective approach to the concept of a balanced ecological growth, focusing on its individual elements. These include zeroing the severance tax on production of associated gas, the establishment of production facilities for alternative energy (focused primarily on exports), the idea of ​​introducing energy audit of buildings and construction of energy-efficient housing.

At the same time, Russia has something to offer to the world in nearly all directions considered as promising - in the area of green technologies - from production of alternative energy to the huge amounts of clean water and organic food.

The Kyoto Protocol that has not been signed by the major emitters of greenhouse gases is often mentioned in regard with the concept of "green growth". However, even under this agreement the Russian economy would not be too crowded, experts of the United Nations believe.

"Russia with its vast natural resources and potential to improve industrial energy efficiency and buildings can double its GDP by 2030 while keeping the amount of greenhouse gas emissions at 1990 levels," the UN noted.

However, to do this it is necessary to increase investment in energy saving and environmentally friendly production. In Russia, the real economic mechanisms to stimulate the green economy are not spelled out, there is practically no experience in public-private partnership in the industry, and hence the transition to the concept of "green growth" will be not just gradual, but "very gradual".

Vitaly Salnik


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Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov