Russia Won't Hit Net-Zero by 2050

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Russia would remain a substantial net emitter of greenhouse gases by 2050 under the base-case scenario set out in a draft document prepared for the government by the Ministry of Economic Development. The base-case scenario presumably accounts for Russia’s plans to increase LNG exports to up to 140 million tons/yr by 2035 from some 30 million tons in 2020. Both Novatek and French TotalEnergies reaffirmed their Russian LNG strategies earlier this year amid low-carbon goals (LNGI Feb.18'21; LNGI Mar.26'21). Back in November, Russian leader Vladimir Putin signed a law targeting a 30% reduction in Russia's greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 (LNGI Nov.13'20). Scenarios In the latest base-case scenario, the country's gross annual emissions would rise to just over 3 billion tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) in 2050 from around 2.1 billion tons in 2019. However, absorption of CO2 by the country's forests and swamps would result in net emissions of 1.2 billion tons in 2050. Under an alternative scenario, in which the country would move more aggressively to rein in its emissions, they would fall to around 260 million tons of CO2e by 2050. Under this scenario Moscow would make carbon-intensive industries pay a price for their carbon emissions. There would be no such payments under the base-case scenario, although Russia plans to launch an experimental carbon-trading system on Sakhalin Island next year, which could spread to other areas of the country (LNGI Aug.25'21). A Forest of Doubts Russia's calculations of its net carbon emissions rely heavily on the capacity of its massive forests to absorb carbon. However, some of Moscow's critics believe that it should not be given credit for a natural phenomenon that is already included in climate models. Furthermore, enormous forest fires in Siberia in the last few years have released large quantities of carbon into the atmosphere, thereby reducing the net absorption of carbon by trees. Nadezhda Sladkova, Moscow

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