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A. Konuzin. Environmental issues and Russia's G8 presidency


A. V. Konuzin. Director, Department of International Organisations, Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Environmental issues were one of the priority themes of the United Kingdom's G8 presidency in 2005. The United Kingdom proposed ratification, at the level of the G8 leaders, of a large-scale programme of actions in relation to climate.
An important stage of preparation for the Gleneagles summit with regard to the environment was the holding of two high-level meetings in the United Kingdom over the period 15-18 March 2005. An expanded-format meeting of environmental and energy ministers of the G8 countries took place in London, which was followed by organisation of a meeting of ministers for the environment and ministers for development, held in Derbyshire. One of the main themes of these meetings was discussion of problems of climate change and their interrelation with development of 'clean' energy (specifically hydrogen energy and other alternative sources), as well as development of dialogue with regard to the search for paths toward their solution.
During these meetings we made statements that reduction of negative environmental effects under conditions of constant worldwide growth in energy-consumption will require the collaborative efforts of the entire global community, and in the end, with the aim of ensuring energy security and sustainable development, Russia took part in preparation and approval of one of the key documents of the Gleneagles summit 'Climate Change, Clean Energy and Sustainable Development' which aimed to combine the efforts of the G8 and all interested large energy-consuming countries in order to substantially lower emissions of greenhouse gasses, to stimulate development of non-coal-intensive technologies, and to combat illegal logging.
We support the strategy contained in the document, which entails a range of measures going beyond the Kyoto Protocol, and whose implementation is primarily to take place through already existing international institutional structures (International Energy Agency, UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, World Bank, Global Environment Facility, etc).
We believe that the correct solution for the G8 is to shift emphasis away from highly restrictive policies on greenhouse gas emissions, and toward a wide range of mechanisms for increasing energy efficiency in different sectors of the economy (industry, transport, construction, utilities). Overall, such a policy, aimed at increasing the role of effective energy- and resource-conservation technologies in economic development, corresponds entirely with our strategic interests. We also see the G8 leaders' acknowledgement of the significance of further nuclear-energy development, which, along with hydroelectricity, is currently the only real alternative to fossil fuels, as a positive sign.
We also proceed on the assumption that the objective of implementation of the highest standards for energy consumption, as fixed by this document, should not lead to discrimination against Russian producers.
In order to discuss paths toward realisation of the Gleneagles Action Plan, at the beginning of November 2005, an inter-ministerial dialogue took place in London with regard to climate change, clean energy and sustainable development. The meeting included a search for answers to modern global challenges in the field of energy and climate change, with the goal of setting a time frame for achievement of the aim of transfer to non-coal-intensive energy.
It was also acknowledged that full achievement of the twin targets of ensuring energy security and fulfilling consumer demand for energy will not be possible in the near future taking into account current developments in economics and energy technology. For this reason, traditional sources will under any circumstances continue to play a leading role in energy consumption over the next thirty years.
Great attention will be given to discussion of new energy technologies for combating climate change. In this context, reference was made to the growing interest and involvement of businesses in climate-change and clean-energy issues, which are no longer seen as a challenge with regard to competitiveness, but also as an opportunity for re-equipment and promotion of clean technologies on the market.
The argument that resolution of the problem of carbon sequestration could prove to be a breakthrough in the battle against climate change received widespread support. Again, as at Gleneagles, nuclear energy was named as a material future source of clean energy.
The importance of keeping climate change and clean energy on the agenda for Russia's forthcoming 2006 G8 presidency was emphasised, as well as the importance of execution of partnerships and initiatives, created both within and outside the G8, for carbon sequestration, hydrogen economy, the 'methane to the markets' initiative, waste recycling, etc.
As part of Russia's 2006 G8 presidency, environmental issues will receive the attention they deserve in the context of discussion of our priority themes of energy security.

Unofficial translation from Russian

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