President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Dear Colleagues!
Today we shall continue our discussion of environmental issues. You will recall that a while ago, in January 2008, there was a meeting of the Security Council. We set ourselves a whole range of tasks. Let's talk about what has been done since then and more generally about our future plans.
The first meeting was in Chelyabinsk [with representatives of the Chelyabinsk region environmental activists]. We talked about problems in the area of environmental development, challenges in improving the quality of life of our citizens and their current state of health. At the same time, we touched on another issue related to the impact of environmental standards on the innovative development of our country, in other words, on the level of our competitiveness.
This work is now under way, and part of the run-up to several major international events. I am referring to the upcoming meeting of the eight major states, the G8. I am also thinking about our future plans and the implementation of current obligations, including international obligations.
Unfortunately for our country the problem is very serious. According to the data currently available, 40 million of our citizens live in substandard environmental conditions. Of these, 1 million are forced to live in areas with dangerous levels of pollution.
Naturally, this situation does not encourage the introduction of environmental and resource-saving technologies, and therefore outdated technologies are still in place, which is a sign of backwardness and waste, things that unfortunately we found everywhere. And in the final analysis, as I have already said, this affects our international competitiveness.
Just think about it for a minute: our country ranks first in the world in terms of loss of heating energy. This is a deplorable record. As for the level of energy efficiency, the majority of our industries are between 10 and 20 times less efficient than modern industry should be. That is why we set ourselves the goal of effectively reducing our economy’s energy consumption by almost half.
What needs to be done? We have already discussed this, so let me lay out the essential steps.
First, we need to prepare a fully-fledged system of standards for allowable impact on the environment. Such a bill is now being prepared, and I expect that by 1 October 2009 it will be introduced in the State Duma.
Secondly, we must prepare a differentiated system of standards for the quality of water, air and soil for each territory, differentiated according to current conditions in particular regions of Russia.
Thirdly, we must promote environmentally sound technologies in a variety of ways. We have discussed this before and will talk about it again today. Part of the discussions in Chelyabinsk involved provisions whereby a small business could declare compliance with environmental requirements, rather than go through the excessive and burdensome process of verification. It is simply impossible for small businesses to cope because this process is accompanied by substantial money extractions.
Finally, we need to change the requirements for energy efficiency technologies, buildings, structures and production generally. And for that we need to develop a system of technical regulation (a subject that is, unfortunately, a difficult one for us). We have outlined the general directions in which we want to move, but we must proceed more quickly.
I have to say at least a word about the need to review the system of environmental responsibility. In this regard we have to think about how to do this properly. In some cases we can strengthen the rules; in others, if we believe that liability rules have become detached from reality, we can fix them. As everyone knows, the most important thing about judicial responsibilities is their unavoidability.
One final note: in the 2009 federal budget and that for 2010 – 2011, for the next few years, we need to provide funding for projects involving the use of renewable energy and the introduction of environmentally-friendly and energy efficient technologies. This is what we should allocate for our future.
I suggest that we move on to our discussions.