Green alarm for Russia’s economic boom

Greenpeace is warning of permanent environmental damage unless Russia’s booming economy is managed differently. The activists say turning a blind eye to green concerns may cause trouble in years to come.

Russia is home to some of the most polluted places on Earth. The quality of air and water is deteriorating, toxic waste levels are going up and the country's forests are disappearing at an alarming rate.

Greenpeace Russia names illegal logging and toxic waste as two of their main concerns.

According to the organisation, there is no real state control of logging. Illegal logging is booming and forest fire data is inaccurate, making it difficult to find a solution.

Toxic waste volumes are increasing faster than the country’s GDP at 15 to 16%.

Much of the damage dates back to the Soviet Era, when the environment was the last thing on people’s minds.

While Greenpeace seems to think the government isn't helping to solve the problem, the authorities say they're making an effort.

President Dmitry Medvedev has called on the government to toughen up environmental laws throughout the country, pointing out the ecological dangers a lot of Russians are exposed to:

“Some forty million Russians are living in unfavourable environmental conditions. One million of these live in places which have dangerous pollution levels”.

Russia is bound by the Kyoto Protocol and is meeting its emissions target. Across the country, slowly but surely, steps are being taking in the right direction.

Besides the government's initiative, big business is taking action. Rusal, the world’s largest aluminium producer, launched a billion-dollar programme to clean up its factories and carry out other environmental projects. Russia’s Transneft and Gazprom are also mixing eco-awareness with business projects. But it’s debatable if their work is enough.

According to environmentalists, the key lies in finding a balance between the economy and the environment.

The concern of Greenpeace comes ahead of World Environment Day on Thursday.