“The decisions we make now will define the entire 21st century” - REGNUM Intelligence Agency interview with Leonid Grigoriev
As previously reported, the Civil G8 2006 International Forum for Non-governmental Organisations, which took place in Moscow on 9-10 March, saw an review of sorts, as part of which the positions of the non-governmental organistions of the G8 countries were clarified in the run-up to the G8 leaders' summit in Saint Petersburg in July 2006.
The aspect that attracted the most interest among observers was the results of the activities of the working group for energy security, which prepared its recommendations “On Actions for Ensuring Global Energy Security” for presentation to the G8 Sherpas. Representatives of non-governmental organisations from many countries, including G8 non-member states, participated in the recommendations' development.
They emphasise that “it is of vital necessity to change the dominant energy paradigm, and transfer to sustainable energy development in order to ensure global energy security based on energy conservation and effective use of new and renewable fuel and energy sources”.
The recommendations to the G8 leaders include “designate specific periods for transfer to new energy-production and conservation technologies, in coordination with development of renewable energy”, “increase the share of total energy production coming from en_renewable sources in the G8 countries to 20% by 2020”, “ensure involvement of the largest developing countries – China and India – in development, preparation and implementation of energy-efficient technologies, transfer to renewable energy sources, and consequent reduction of greenhouse gas emissions”, and “once and for all put a stop to state subsidisation of nuclear energy in the G8 countries, in all forms, except for financing of programmes aimed at ensuring the safety of nuclear facilities, disposal and burial of spent nuclear fuel and other nuclear waste, and dismantling and recovery of the corresponding nuclear equipment.
The recommendations' authors also propose that the G8 countries introduce a ban on cross-border transportation of nuclear waste, including spent nuclear fuel, “compile and regularly update a list of the best available technologies in the fields of extraction, transportation, processing and use of energy resources and storage and disposal of waste, not permitting any double standards for the extraction, pipeline transportation and shipping of hydrocarbons”, and “undertake a G8-wide mutual obligation to ensure the environmental protection of lake ecosystems (the American Great Lakes, Lake Baikal, Lake Issyk-Kul, etc), as well as protection of particularly valuable and vulnerable natural features in the Arctic with regard to extraction and transportation of hydrocarbon fuel”.
The recommendations contain a proposal to develop, and present for UN discussion no later than 2010, plans for an international system of mandatory insurance against environmental risks, compensation (economic responsibility for damage) for damage to the environment and its components, and people's health, caused by extraction, transportation and processing of hydrocarbon and nuclear raw materials, storage, and disposal and processing of related waste, as well as other initiatives that the NGO representatives believe should be discussed by the G8 leaders.
Leonid Markovich Grigoriev, coordinator of the working group for energy security and president of the Institute of Energy and Finance (Moscow), agreed to comment to REGNUM Information Agency on the overall meaning of the Civil G8 2006 forum and the recommendations approved by it.
REGNUM: Leonid Markovich, what, in your view, is the main political meaning of the Civil G8 2006 forum?
Leonid Grigoriev: While the UN and other large international organisations have long been trying to consult non-governmental organisations, the G8 most often encounters civil society in the face of anti-globalists holding street protests, although some negotiations do take place. But in recent years the heads of the G8 governments have finally begun to pay attention to civil-society organisations.
No developed procedure exists for communication between the G8 and civil society, and what does take place is spontaneous in nature, but what is happening in Russia this year may serve as the base for a more settled and regular process of cooperation. This cooperation has one surprising and interesting feature. Where other international organisations involve representatives without great authority, who may not know certain things, or may not report things directly to their respective heads of state, in this case contact is sufficiently direct for there to be certainty that anything that non-governmental organisations recommend will be reported to the heads of the G8 countries.
This is a breakthrough for NGOs, because it's one thing to write petitions to some bureaucrat, but quite another to present your opinion, if not to a head of state in person, then at least to the Sherpa that he or she has appointed to carry this load as part of the process. The recommendations developed at the forum will be passed to the Russian Sherpa by Ella Alexandrovna Pamfilova, chair of the Presidential Council for Assisting in the Development of Civil Institutions and Human Rights, and the Russian Sherpa will distribute them among his colleagues from other G8 countries. Also, non-governmental organisations plan to address certain representations directly to heads of state.
Naturally, we have had to deal with certain difficulties due to the fact that heads of state and Sherpas have a huge amount of state experts to help develop their proposals, whereas civil organisations cannot perform prolonged long-term research, and have to formulate their proposals practically on the fly. The NGO forum in Moscow on 9-10 March was a rather short affair, which simultaneously functioned as a delegation of civil organisations, an expert council and a brainstorming session. The experience was sufficiently successful for the idea of holding similar international NGO consultations on a more-or-less regular basis to be proposed.
As the UK Sherpa said on the first day, the discussion topics at the 2005 summit in Gleneagles, at the centre of which stood the issue of African development, were to a significant degree determined by non-governmental organisations, of course not only UK ones, but from all G8 countries. But in our case it's different; topics of discussion for the forthcoming summit in Saint Petersburg are put forward by the Russian president, and non-governmental organisations discuss these same issues. However, Moscow was a step forward in comparison with previous years as regards the range of the discussion programme. The work of our forum was performed by several groups, and encompassed both traditional G8 topics and the agenda of this year's summit. Although the forum was prepared very quickly, many Russian representatives traveled in FROM `en_en_en_the` regions, and at least a quarter of the participants were NGO representatives FROM `en_en_en_abroad`. Incidentally, the organisation of this forum required that our Ministry of Foreign Affairs issue visas to our foreign guests at short notice, which it did successfully. We expect another big meeting in summer, in the run-up to the summit.
It's very important to note that at the end of the first day the Sherpas attended a plenary session, and as the British Professor Peter Ritchie, coordinator of the NGO programme of the Royal Institute of International Relations (Chatham House), pointed out, meetings between NGOs and Sherpas have taken place before, but this was the first time that all eight Sherpas had been present. They spent two hours at the meeting, and were clearly satisfied, remarking that it had been interesting. Overall, the forum was a clear success. We should give Ella Pamfilova her due here; she led the Russian part of the Coordination Council for the Civil G8 – the forum participants actually were independent non-governmental organisations.
This format is entirely repeatable in other countries, and I am absolutely certain that this approach will be repeated in Germany next year.
REGNUM: One of the forum's greatest successes was the work of the energy security group. What did you, as coordinator of this group, find most interesting in its work?
Leonid Grigoriev: Energy security is the theme of this year; it is a most important issue, which is currently being widely discussed worldwide, and, of course, our division's work was rather intense.
I would, generally speaking, divide approaches to the issue of energy security into three schools. The first is primarily concerned with problems of current market stability, reliability of supplies, prices, conflicts regarding transit of energy resources, and other present-day problems. This school is not dominated by academic economists; it contains many political viewpoints.
The number of representatives of this school at our meeting was minimal. We hardly discussed all these current issues, which are certainly highly important for heads of state. But these are so intensively covered by a large number of conferences, forums, ministers' meetings and so on, that they are simply not an issue for NGOs.
The second school consists of professors and economists, throughout the world are occupied by prognoses of economic growth, energy use and its impact on prices, transit issues, diversification of energy sources, competition between nuclear energy and gas-based thermal power, and so on. I believe that a significant part of the G8's agenda relates to this field. These things were discussed by us and are reflected in our recommendations, but at our meeting the third school, which predominantly consists of environmentalists, proved the strongest.
Russian and global non-governmental organisations which deal with economic and energy issues contain many environmentalists. This is due to the very nature of non-governmental organisations: they perform work that the government for some reason does not want to do, or does in an ineffective manner in the opinion of civil organisations. For this reason, this direction was represented significantly more strongly at our meeting than it is for the heads of state. This, I believe, is entirely in line with the principles of the Civil G8.
REGNUM: Which countries were represented in your group?
Besides Russians, which were the majority, from the CIS there were representatives FROM `en_Kazakhstan` and Kyrgyzia; there were also Americans, Germans, French, Austrians, British and representatives of other countries. We worked very intensively for two days, and in this time around a hundred and twenty people, all told, were involved. At the start of our work we were addressed by Alexander Nikolaevich Shokhin, head of the Russian Council of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs, speaking on behalf of business, and the second day saw a great speech by Alexander Ivanovich Bedritsky, president of the World Meteorological Organisation and head of Rosgidromet, the Russian Federal Service for Hydrometeorology and Environment Monitoring, on global climate change, the Kyoto process and Russia's participation in it. He is a great specialist in this field, as it was he who was Russia's representative at the creation of the Kyoto Agreement. But most of the time was taken up by intense discussion as we tried to agree on the final wording of the recommendations.
REGNUM: What do you think of the end result?
Leonid Grigoriev: They are very radical propositions. This document does not attempt to push things forward in absolutely every direction, as NGOs cannot entirely duplicate the work of the G8 governments, which produce two thirds of global GDP. There is nothing on the present problems of security of energy deliveries, but much is said with regard to which direction NGOs hope governments will move toward; specifically, the issue of sharp energy diversification, strengthening the role of renewable energy (raising the share of energy provided from renewable sources to 20% by 2020).
The second (economic) school, to which I also belong, may see this proposal as excessively radical, but nevertheless, the general thrust of the document is clear – where previously countries pursued their activities in this sphere in this sphere in isolation, now NGOs insist on a harmonised energy policy for the entire G8, and formation of unified approaches. It is also highly important that NGOs should remind heads of state of the necessity of delivering on promises already made, including with regard to increasing the share of energy from renewable sources.
And one more very important point – The NGOs propose that China and India should join in the process of reducing atmospheric emissions and moving towards renewable energy sources, since, as Alexander Ivanovich Bedritsky said, the current dynamic of world energy development is such that by 2020 the amount of emissions produced by developing countries will be comparable to that produced by developed countries, despite lower levels of production.
REGNUM: The recommendations passed by your group also contain several points relating to nuclear energy.
Yes, several rather radical propositions on these issues were brought forward, primarily by Russian environmentalists. They demanded that we state in the recommendations that we consider atomic energy to be non-sustainable, and that we propose ceasing its state subsidisation, which, they believe, will in time lead to its natural extinction.
In my view, some of the ideas brought forward by the environmentalists would be difficult to make happen, or very expensive, but their goal, in the main, coincides with what the energy-economists say: We cannot continue to put off resolving the issue of what exactly the world will do about non-renewable sources of energy and nuclear energy, because the decisions we make now will define the entire 21st century. The world must consider how it will live when our reserves of hydrocarbon fuel begin to run out. The USA has President George Bush's energy programme in this regard, the Swedish government has taken decisions, the European Union has its own programme. But this international meeting raised the issue of the necessity of creating a shared vision for the future, making certain coordinated decisions and harmonising of energy policy in a whole host of areas.