Greenhouse Gas Control Policies in Russia

May 7, 2012, 1:36 pm
Source: Crs

See also: Overview of Greenhouse Gas Control Policies in Various Countries

Overall GHG emission target and timing

[1]The Russian Federation (hereafter “Russia”) projects that its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the year 2010 will be 28% below the 1990 level, which is Russia’s GHG emissions cap (its “Assigned Amount”) under the Kyoto Protocol.[2] Though GDP in 2006 was 3% below the 1990 level, Russia’s GHG emissions were 34% below the 1990 level (inclusive of carbon uptake by forests and other vegetation, net GHG emissions were 74% below the 1990 level). Some fourfifths of the GHG reductions came from the energy sector. Russia’s GHG emissions are thus below its Kyoto Protocol obligation, creating a large surplus of emission allowances (Assigned Amount Units, or AAUs, in the terminology of the Protocol). Under the rules of the Kyoto Protocol, Russia may sell its surplus AAUs to other Parties with GHG obligations.

A Presidential Decree[3] on measures for increasing the energy and environmental efficiency of the Russian economy was issued in 2008, setting a target to decrease the energy intensity of the economy by at least 40% by 2020, compared to the 2007 level. The government has also set a target to increase the share of renewable energy (excluding large hydroelectric production) in electricity generation to 4.5% by 2020, and to use 95% of associated natural gas (produced with oil) by 2014-2016.

In the Copenhagen negotiations, President Dmitry Medvedev has offered a GHG target for Russia’s emissions of 10%-15% below 1990 levels by 2020.[4] With policies and measures in place, the Russian government has projected that its GHG emissions in 2010, 2015, and 2020 will be reductions of 28%, 21%, and 13%, respectively, of its 1990 emissions level. Other experts project them to be as much as 25% below 1990 levels in 2020 with current policies and economic outlooks.[5]

Although Russian leaders agreed in the G8 summit meeting of July 2008 to consider an 80% reduction from 1990 levels of GHG emissions from developed countries by 2050, they agreed only to a 50% reduction target for Russia.

Principal Policy Instruments

Many observers contend that climate change has not attracted the interest of high level leaders in Russia and that, consequently, “[t]he government hardly has any official climate strategy, and little progress is occurring.”[6] These claims persist in spite of apparent changes in the Russian leadership’s diplomatic approach to the issue (e.g., an announcement of a climate “doctrine” accepting that GHG emissions would pose risks and would require actions to reduce emissions).[7] Many suspect that Russia’s support for climate change actions is associated with expanding its export market for natural gas in Europe and, to a much smaller degree, the value of potentially selling its surplus AAUs to EU and other countries with GHG reduction obligations.

As noted above, Russia’s reduced GHG emissions is due primarily to economic collapse, leading to steep drops in energy demand and production, as well as other activities (e.g., agriculture, waste) that lead to GHG emissions. Replacing old, inefficient manufacturing and other infrastructure has led to relatively slower increases in GHG emissions than in economic activity.

The government’s strategy for economic and social development has relied on reform and expansion of the energy sector, in part because 50% of the central government’s revenue comes from the oil and natural gas sector.[8] The export value of oil and natural gas has driven a policy emphasizing extraction of these resources for trade. However, many observers have noted a concomitant, low level of investment in new capacity. The 2006 Russian Energy Strategy to 2020 sought to increase reliance on nuclear and coal-fired electricity for domestic use in order to increase oil and natural gas available for export.[9] Investments are being made to back out natural gas use, for example, by investing in efficient, combined cycle gas turbine technologies. These energy initiatives have mixed effects on GHG trajectories.

In 2005, the government adopted the Complex Action Plan for Implementation of the Kyoto Protocol in the Russian Federation for 2004-2008. It gave coordinating authority to the Interdepartmental Commission on Implementation of the Kyoto Protocol in the Russia Federation. It established some sectoral targets for improving energy efficiency, although some commentators allege that no actions would be needed to achieve them.[10] The UNFCCC in-depth review concluded that these targets had been only partially met. The Mid-term Social-economic Development Programme of the Russian Federation for 2003– 2005 provided for economic incentives to modernize equipment and technologies, improving energy efficiency and thereby reducing GHG emissions. To supplement these initiatives, a Presidential Decree was issued in 2008 on measures for increasing the energy and environmental efficiency of the economy of Russia. Other reported actions include:

  • Gazprom, Russia’s state-owned natural gas enterprise, established an energy conservation program for 2001–2010.

  • Gazprom is implementing measures to reduce CH4 and CO2 emissions through 2012 (the annual reductions expected are a 10% reduction in CH4 emissions and a 2.5% reduction in CO2 emissions); other measures to increase the efficiency of gas transport and decrease losses by Gazprom (emission reductions of 3 Mt CO2 in the period 2001–2004 through reconstruction of pump stations).

  • A federal program for housing for 2002–2010 targets housing retrofit and modernization and includes energy efficiency measures and introduction of small-scale renewable energy generation in the residential and services sectors.

On November 12, 2009, President Medvedev addressed the Federal Assembly and outlined his proposal for Russia to “undergo comprehensive modernization.” In this speech Medvedev announced that “increasing energy efficiency and making the transition to a rational resource consumption model is another of our economy’s [five] modernization priorities.”[11] To this end, he highlighted a number of new program proposals to:

  • produce and install individual energy meters for households;
  • transition to energy-saving light bulbs;
  • introduce energy service contracts and introduce payment for consumption of services (and considering family incomes);
  • increase efficiency in the public sector; and
  • capture and sell natural gas co-produced with oil, instead of flaring gas.

President Medvedev also promoted developing waste-to-energy systems; super-conductors for electricity production, transmission, and use; and nuclear generation, including nuclear fusion. The in-depth review of Russia’s Fourth National Communication under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) found that Russia did not report on its specific domestic measures to abate GHG emissions or detail on how they would contribute to meeting Russia’s GHG commitments.[12] The review recommended that the government provide greater transparency of how Russia’s policies and measures may be modifying long-term trends in anthropogenic GHG emissions and removals. According to the UNFCCC in-depth review, In the period 1990–1998, GHG emissions decreased almost in parallel with the economic decline. In the period 1998–2006, GDP growth was accompanied by a relatively slower increase in the level of GHG emissions, which was 9.9 per cent higher in 2006 than in 1998. The differences between GDP and the GHG emission trends are mainly driven by: shifts in the structure of the economy (particularly of non-energy intensive industries); shifts in the primary energy supply (the share of oil and coal has decreased and the share of natural gas and nuclear energy has increased); a decline in activities in the agriculture and transport sectors; the decrease in population (by 3.9 per cent); and the increase in energy efficiency. These trends resulted in a 31.9 per cent decrease in the Party’s carbon intensity per GDP unit in 2006 compared with that in 1990.

Russia has not reported estimates of how government funding or financial incentives may influence GHG emissions.

Russia’s latest energy strategy, as updated in August 2009, focuses in 2013-2015 on recovery from the current economic crisis. In its second phase, from 2015 to 2022, Russia would emphasize introducing new technologies and more efficiency into its energy sector. An expansion of renewable energy, including large hydroelectric plants, wind, and solar generation, would occur only in the third phase of the new strategy, from 2022 to 2030, along with continued development of hydrocarbon resources.

Covered Gases and Sectors

Russia’s target under the Kyoto Protocol includes the six Kyoto Protocol gases.

Allocation of GHG reductions to various sectors

None specified.

Regulations or exemptions specific to trade-sensitive sectors

Motor Vehicles: In 2005, limits on motor vehicle pollutant emissions were introduced, including indicators of GHG emissions. These standards were comparable to the EURO 2–EURO 5 emission standards. (See Figure A-2.)


caption Figure A-1. Comparison of International Fuel Economy and GHG Standards. Source: Feng An, “Revised Chart for World Standards,” Innovation Center for Energy and Transportation
(iCET) (2009). Available at



caption Figure A-2. Standardized Comparison of Select Vehicle Efficiency Standards Internationally (standards as of mid-2009). Source: Feng An, “Revised Chart for World Standards,” Innovation Center for Energy and Transportation (iCET) (2009). Available at



  1. ^ This section was prepared by Jane A. Leggett, Specialist in Environmental and Energy Policy, Congressional Research Service
  2. {{note|106v United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Report of the Centralized In-Depth Review of the Fourth National Communication of the Russian Federation (Bonn, August 31, 2009), documents/advanced_search/items/3594.php?rec=j&priref=600005423.
  3. ^ Decree 889, June 4, 2008.
  4. ^
  5. ^ Anna Korppoo, “Linkages between Russian Energy and Climate Policies towards Copenhagen,” October 16, 2009, anna_korppoo.pdf+Russia+GHG+policies+measures&hl=en&gl=us&sig=AFQjCNEMV4xp1Ac- SYT7zh5Oh7v4UBit3Q.
  6. ^ Anne Karin Saether, “Moscow Environmental Conference Places Climate Demands on Medvedev,” Bellona, March 27, 2009,; Simon Shuster, “Russia offers climate goal with no real bite,” June 19, 2009, environmentNews/idUSTRE55I3CP20090619; Ulkopoliittinen instituutti, “Russia’s Post-2012 Climate Politics in the Context of Economic Growth,” May 11, 2008,; or, Simon Shuster, “Russia Still Dragging Its Feet on Climate Change,” Time, October 8, 2009, 0,28804,1929071_1929070_1934785,00.html.
  7. ^ Quirin Schiermeier, “Russia makes major shift in climate policy,” Nature -News (May 26, 2009),; Simon Shuster, “Russia offers climate goal with no real bite,” June 19, 2009,; or 1. Oleg Shchedrov, “Russia’s Medvedev warns of climate catastrophe,” November 16, 2009, environmentNews/idUSTRE5AF1SU20091116.
  8. ^ Jean Foglizzo, “Russia’s New Energy Strategy Seems a Lot Like its Old One,” The New York Times, March 30, 2008,
  9. ^ Kevin Rosner, “Dirty Hands: Russian Coal, GHG Emissions & European Gas Demand,” Journal of Energy Security (August 27, 2009), ghg-emissions-aamp-european-gas-demand&catid=98:issuecontent0809&Itemid=349. The author raises, “The significant issue is whether it would be more advantageous, from an environmental-security perspective within the framework of Russia’s coal paradigm, that the majority of new coal capacity is driven by comparatively more regulated OECD countries or whether it will revert back to Russia. Russia’s environmental record is not exemplary in this regard.”
  10. ^ Ibid.
  11. ^ Dimtry Medvedev, “Presidential Address to the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation,”, November 12, 2009.
  12. ^ UNFCCC, op. cit., p. 4.



Note: The first version of this article was drawn from  R40936 An Overview of Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Control Policies in Various Countries by Jane A. Leggett, Richard K. Lattanzio, Carl Ek, and Larry Parker, Congressional Research Service, November 30, 2009.


Disclaimer: This article is taken wholly from, or contains information that was originally published by, the Congressional Research Service. Topic editors and authors for the Encyclopedia of Earth may have edited its content or added new information. The use of information from the Congressional Research Service should not be construed as support for or endorsement by that organization for any new information added by EoE personnel, or for any editing of the original content.




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