The National Carbon Union (NCU) partnership was set up a year ago and has more than a dozen collective members. Our initial task was to inform Russian companies responsible for the emission of greenhouse gases about the essence of the Kyoto protocol, the principles of its operation and the ways it can be used to attract investment to the national industries.
The list of our members includes RAO UES, Russian Aluminium, AFK System, and several other companies. The aggregate volume of emissions by our members is about 650 mln tonnes of COІ a year (more than a third of the national total). Vneshtorgbank is co-operating with us as an observer (as the bank does not emit greenhouse gases). By persistently popularising the Kyoto protocol, the NCU has changed the stand of the influential Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs, which unites nearly all major producers (about 30,000), and its leadership now tends to support rather than reject the protocol.
Many economists think that to double GDP by the deadline set by the president (within a decade), Russian companies should improve their energy efficiency by approximately 2.5% a year. They are proceeding somewhat slower now and I am sure that the Kyoto protocol could serve as a good incentive.
Regrettably, this vital international document has a framework structure and hence is too vague. All actions proceeding from its contents narrow rather than expand the possibilities of investment in Russia. If the point at issue is to ratify the protocol and assume certain commitments without getting anything in return, this would be a strange - silly, in the eyes of the business community - act.
We have spent a great deal of time trying to explain our stand to the EU. Russian business wants to know where, how and on what conditions it can receive investment. I would say that this is a reasonable stand devoid of any political considerations. If the Kyoto protocol is a humanitarian programme that will not address the issue of modernisation of individual economies but is designed to encourage each and all to reduce man's effect on climate in the interests of the planet, then it would be reasonable to invest in the projects that promise maximum feedback.
If it costs more than Ђ100 per tonne to reduce emissions in Europe and there are many projects in Russia where the cost is Ђ5 per tonne, then you see where the money should go - and it does not matter who provides it, as it is the future of the whole planet that is at stake.
However, we have not been able to encourage the EU to accept this view, though we have promoted it more than once (the latest time in late May). Take the directive on the sale of greenhouse gases emission quotas, which will create a market government by strict directives instead of a free one. The EU regulates its quota buyers and purchases per territory, suggesting that some should be done in Europe, others in emerging countries, and still others in Ukraine and Russia. But this is not a market; it is a bureaucratic game and a policy of double standards. Naturally, this is a cause for concern.
Forest fires in Siberia have been raging for three months already. They have become a disaster not only of Russian, but of global scale. The fires have already scorched 12 million hectares of land