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Russia pushes to limit greenhouse gases

The Kyoto protocol is aimed at fighting climate change. The countries who've signed up to it are obliged to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. Russia currently meets its targets under Kyoto and is now ready to start trading emission quotas.

The beauty of Kyoto is that enables countries to improve the environment while getting paid for it.

One hundred and seventy-four countries have ratified the protocol. Only 36 are required to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to levels specified in the treaty. Russia is among them.

According to the terms of Kyoto, Russian gas emissions are set at the equivalent of 1990 levels.

Oleg Pluzhnikov from the Economic Ministry says that “the annual level of emission is around 3.2 billion tons of carbon dioxide equivalent”. In five period, he says, total amount will rise to about 16 billion tonnes.

However, Russia expects to emit just 13 to 13.5 billion tones by 2012, giving it 2.5 to 3 billion tons to trade on the carbon emissions market, he said.

There are differences in the way countries plan to comply with Kyoto. The European Union has set strict levels of emissions for each company – and they are falling every year,

Russian policymakers, in contrast, are giving companies more room for manoeuvre.

Dmitry Bulgakov, analyst at Deutsche Bank in Moscow, says that while Russia remains a big polluter, economic growth remains a priority.

The government decided not to create any strict carbon dioxide allowances to the companies and this will allow the companies to benefit,” he said.

RAO UES is the first Russian company to sign deals with the Danish Environmental Agency. Two plants have introduced new technology which produces less pollution. The “saved” emission units are then sold abroad providing the company with finance for further environmental measures.

It’s made possible by a law adopted in March this year, athough the government has yet to formally approve it.

Russian companies, particularly in the energy sector, can benefit from implementing cleaner technology as soon as next year. Once existing legislation has been fine-tuned, falling carbon dioxide levels will not only bring extra funds, but will also let people breathe more easily.