Russia, One of the World's Biggest Greenhouse Gas Emitters, Signs on to Paris Agreement
Hours before the UN Climate Action Summit commenced, Russia’s prime minister Dmitry Medvedev announced the country’s ratification of the Paris Agreement.
This decision seems long overdue, seeing as the agreement was originally negotiated four years ago. As Russia is the world’s fourth greatest carbon dioxide emitter, this decision carries significant implications and could even act as a signal to countries such as Turkey and Iran, who have yet to become signatories.
With the ratification of the agreement, Russia formally accepts the adaptation of new laws and regulations by the end of 2020, and a reduced emissions target for 2030.
This decision could also indicate a shift in Russia’s position regarding climate change. As recently as 2017, President Vladimir Putin stated that climate change is not a man-made phenomenon, but rather a result of the Earth’s natural climate cycle.
The ratification of the Paris Agreement could be an indication that Russia has shifted its political stance to one of more urgency. On Monday, Medvedev said in his official statement that “The threat of climate change is (the) destruction of the ecological balance, increased risks for successful development of key industries… and most importantly, threat to safety of people living on permafrost and increase of natural disasters”.
Despite this commitment, there is some speculation and doubt over whether Russia’s signing of the Paris Agreement could be rooted in its own political agenda.
Research organization Climate Action Tracker (CAT) has asserted that Russia’s climate change targets are"critically low". Although Russia has assented to reducing emissions by 25-30% between 1990 and 2030, Russia has already met this target as emissions decreased naturally with the fall of the Soviet Union. Theoretically, Russia could even increase emissions within this target. Additionally, Russia has made no claims to reduce fossil fuel production.