President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Good afternoon.
We should not let our routine work obscure the fact that we also have global responsibilities. I am not just talking about the economy in the narrow sense, but about the whole range of issues related to climate change.
I have specifically discussed the results of the Copenhagen Conference with the various government officials here. We are forced to admit that the conference was a failure. This is a sad outcome for everyone, especially for the organisers, but at the same time it is a lesson. The lesson is that we need to change the way we prepare these kinds of events in order to achieve more substantial results. This is not a reason to sit back now and do nothing, because we are responsible for the state of our planet, for the state of the climate, but the conference sent us a serious signal about how we should organise future work.
We failed to reach a consensus on a global legally binding agreement for the period after 2012, but around 100 countries, including Russia, approved a political agreement – the Copenhagen Accord. This is better than nothing, although it is only a very general framework, and not approved by all delegates, and this is the big problem.
We need to decide today how to make the most effective use of what has been achieved, including the very modest results of the Copenhagen Conference, how to build our relations with the main players in the climate area, and outline the best ways for aiding less developed countries to fight climate threats. This has been the subject of much discussion, and I must say that it was the leaders of some of the smaller countries, often island nations, who spoke with greatest force and emotion about this at the Copenhagen Conference.
The new climate agreement represents a real chance for mass introduction of the very same technology we have been speaking so much about lately here in Russia, namely, clean, energy-efficient and low-emission technology. This is also an opportunity, of course, for making new scientific and technological breakthroughs and coming up with new solutions.
These sorts of decisions need to bring about the green growth that is a priority for technology policy all around the world today. Governments, including our Government, need to make these decisions, but they need to do this together with the business community. As I said to our partners in the climate change dialogue, no progress can be made so long as the business community does not take a clear stand on this issue and get involved. It does not matter how much we lament and talk about the threats facing our planet, if business does not see that its interests are at stake too nothing will happen. Our task is to make the business community realise where its interests lie, and then we can come up with real instruments.
We are going to improve our energy efficiency and reduce our emissions regardless of whether or not there is an international agreement. This is in our own interest from both an economic and environmental point of view.
Russia’s goal remains unchanged – to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent, based on the 1990 level, by 2020. This is a realistic goal and we can achieve it if we make the necessary structural changes to our economy.
We are starting to see examples of modern and environmentally effective technology. I was in Kemerovo recently, and some of you here today were also on that trip. We saw a coal-bed methane project, an impressive project, because it addresses the safety issue and at the same time improves the overall environmental situation. This is precisely the kind of advanced technology we want to develop. It has not yet reached the kind of scale we want to see, but over the next 5–7 years we have the chance to develop this kind of new technology and put it to active use.
I remind you that natural gas reserves in the coal-beds are comparable to our explored reserves of conventional natural gas. In fact, even bigger, practically double our conventional reserves, but the whole problem is how to extract this gas.
There are companies ready to receive financing through hydrocarbon certificates, using future production as collateral. This would create a good additional investment resource.
By the way, Sberbank is working actively in this area. I recently met with Sberbank’s chief executive. But for these sorts of projects to go ahead the Government must take the necessary decisions. These decisions must be made. I therefore ask all of the Cabinet members present to get these documents approved and issue them, because, as far as I know, they have already been waiting for government approval for long enough now.
The Climate Doctrine that I approved at the end of last year will also help us to reach our goals. We need to look at how perhaps to adapt the doctrine to the current situation, and perhaps take into account our work with other countries and Russia’s position on commitments after 2012. This doctrine should be a living document and we should not turn it into some kind of sacred cow. If need be we will make changes to it.
One final issue I wanted to raise at the start of this discussion is that we need to make discussion of all of these issues as public as possible. In other words, the whole information component is one of the big tasks before us. Climate policy is a matter for the Government, the local authorities, and business, and not just the preserve of scholars and essayists writing their thoughts on this subject. I therefore expect all of us to make an effort in this respect. This will also help to create a positive image of our country with regard to climate issues, and this is also something we need.