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Putin announces new emission quotas & corporate responsibility for environmental damage as Russia begins to get tough on polluters

Putin announces new emission quotas & corporate responsibility for environmental damage as Russia begins to get tough on polluters
Russia must adapt its industries to climate change and establish strict controls in the fight against harmful emissions. That's according to President Vladimir Putin, who said that companies must be punished for causing damage.

Speaking in Moscow on Wednesday at the annual address to the Federal Assembly, Putin also revealed that manufacturers would be made more responsible for recycling packaging as early as 2021.

“We must respond to the challenges of climate change, adapt agriculture, industry, utilities, the entire infrastructure,” Putin said. “[We must] create an industry to recycle carbon emissions, achieve a reduction in their volume and introduce strict control and monitoring.”

Putin also noted that, over the next 30 years, the country could reduce its volume of net greenhouse gases to below that of the EU, which he called a “difficult task” due to Russia's size, geography, and climate.

“However, I am absolutely sure that this goal, taking into account the scientific and technological potential, is absolutely achievable,” he said.

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Last year saw one of Russia's most devastating industrial disasters, when Thermal Power Plant No. 3, located near Norilsk in the Arctic circle, failed, flooding local waters with around 20,000 tons of diesel fuel, an incident one official called the largest spill of all time.

“In the history of mankind, such a quantity of liquid diesel fuel has never leaked out,” said Alexander Chupriyan, the country's first deputy minister of emergency situations.

As punishment, the power plant's operator Nornickel was fined a record 146 billion rubles ($1.9 billion).

In his speech, Putin said the government would speed up a law establishing financial responsibility for companies that damage the environment, hoping to avert any such disaster in the future.

He also pointed the finger at Rosprirodnadzor, Russia's environmental watchdog, asking them to be tougher on protecting nature.

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“This approach is as simple as it sounds: ‘You made a profit at the expense of nature – clean up after yourself,’” Putin added.

Climate change has become a significant concern for Russia, and in recent years Putin, who was once accused of being skeptical on the subject, has begun to more frequently comment on the potential changes for the country.

In October, speaking to the Valdai Discussion Club, he highlighted how global warming could adversely affect Russia's infrastructure, as 65% of the country's territory is made up of permafrost, and any drastic change could have disastrous consequences for the economy.

“It affects pipeline systems, residential districts built on permafrost, and so on,” Putin explained. “If as much as 25% of the near-surface layers of permafrost, which is about three or four meters, melt by 2100, we will feel the effect very strongly.”

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In June last year, a Siberian village broke the record for the highest temperature ever recorded inside the Arctic Circle, at 38°C (100°F). Later that month, wildfires were spotted in the far north of Yakutia, an area usually associated with some of the lowest-ever recorded temperatures.

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