By Natasha Doff
An EU proposal to introduce border levies on products arriving from countries with looser environmental rules could come into force within the next two years, Kremlin adviser Ruslan Edelgeriev said at a news briefing in Moscow. Those companies that don’t adapt would find it difficult to sell their products into that market, he said.
“The EU wants to push through these regulations not because they don’t like our companies, but so that their own companies don’t overstep emissions targets,” Edelgeriev said at a new conference in Moscow Thursday. “I’m in favor of regulation because if we don’t do it, we will be shut out of external markets.”
The call for climate action is unusual in the world’s fourth-largest emitter of the most abundant greenhouse gas. Since he first came to power in 2000, Putin has aligned the interests of government with those of the natural-resource industries and the country’s biggest business lobby group last year rejected a plan to set greenhouse-gas emissions targets.
Russia has almost doubled oil production over that period. About half of the country’s budget revenues come from proceeds from the oil and gas sector, which is dominated by state-owned companies.
In public, Putin jumps between questioning man-made climate change and admitting that the country needs to do more to promote renewable energy. He finally decided to ratify the Paris Agreement in September after years of foot-dragging. Less than two months later, he said countries embracing zero carbon policies are “pursuing their own agenda.”
This flip-flopping is due in part to a lack of consensus among Russian scientists over the causes of climate change and differing advice Putin receives, Edelgeriev said on Thursday.
The European Commission is considering several options for penalizing imports from polluters to prevent “carbon leakage,” whereby polluting activities simply move elsewhere to avoid strict regulation. The commission — the EU’s executive arm — is due to unveil a proposal next year, which will then be subject to amendments and approval by the bloc’s 27 governments and the European Parliament.