The discussion took place within the session ‘Reaching UNSDGs by 2030: Next Steps’.
What decisions has Russia taken in the field of sustainable development, what energy and climate projects await our country this year and next year, and what proposals should be submitted for discussion before the conference in Glasgow? World experts answered these and other questions at the session ‘Reaching UNSDGs by 2030: Next Steps’ which summed up the two-day work of the First International Congress on Sustainable Finance for Climate Change: ECUMENE 2021 (16+).
The Congress was held in a hybrid format: some of the speakers and participants met face-to-face at the Skolkovo’s Congress Hall, while the rest joined in online. There were about 2 000 participants and more than 60 000 viewers of the live broadcast from 302 cities out of 54 countries of the world.
The final session was attended by Minister of Economic Development of the Russian Federation Maksim Reshetnikov, First Deputy Governor of the Bank of Russia Ksenia Yudaeva, Deputy Chairwoman of the Management Board, Gazprombank JSC Elena Borisenko, CEO & Executive Director of the United Nations Global Compact Sanda Ojiambo, The Sixth UN Environment Executive Director, Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations Erik Solheim.
According to the UN forecasts, achievement of sustainable development goals by 2030 could bring about $12 trillion additional to the global economy, while creating more than 380 million jobs, Viacheslav Fetisov, UN Goodwill Ambassador, Chairman of the All-Russian Society for Nature Protection (VOOP) said at the concluding session of the Congress. ‘Russia must be part of this process, participate in the creation of global rules of the game, especially focuse on the environmental future of the planet. Without the well-being of the territory of the Russian Federation, without initiatives of the largest territory in the world, it will be impossible to create and implement these rules’ he said.
Maksim Reshetnikov told about global initiatives in the field of sustainable development in Russia. He said that the regions, announcing the achievement of carbon neutrality by a certain year will be able to set quotas on greenhouse gas emissions for specific companies and introduce a system of trading quotas. By the end of 2021, a bill on the Sakhalin experiment is planned to be submitted to the State Duma for consideration as a priority.
Maksim Reshetnikov noted that by the end of the year amendments will be made to the law on greenhouse gas emissions and verification of Russian companies' reports by special organizations will begin. According to the Minister, verification will be a serious competitive advantage. ‘A full line of standards has been created, which allows us to implement climate projects. The last standard will be approved in November. Then we will have an opportunity not only to verify projects by these standards, but also to accredit the entire verification system by these standards. So that everyone understands the methods that are used. In the first half of the year, the first climate projects will be verified and launched, we will launch the circulation of carbon units’ said the Minister.
Maksim Reshetnikov added that after the first climate verification projects are launched, the Ministry of Economic Development will begin the process of joining the Russian system of verification to the international system. This will ensure the confirmation of compliance of national standards with international ones.
The Minister also drew attention to the cost of the forced implementation of the climate agenda. ‘Renewable energy and nuclear will eventually require investments that will have to pay off. And any payback is an increase in fees for customers. It is important that when we implement all these issues, we must take into account the level of inflation, macroeconomic conditions’ he said.
Maksim Reshetnikov urged the countries actively implementing the climate agenda to count and tell consumers how much the introduction of low-carbon technologies will cost. ‘The level of prices that we now see in Europe for gas is a direct consequence of the forced withdrawal of coal-fired generation. Gas prices have no alternative. I don't think all consumers are willing to pay that price for a forced climate agenda.’ He reminded that the climate is only one of 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals and called not to forget the fight against poverty, ensuring affordable and clean energy and others, which are also sustainable development goals.
Continuing the international theme, the Minister noted the lack of understanding between countries on mechanisms to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement. ‘We need to agree on the recognition of carbon units, to agree on common parameters for climate projects. We need to overcome the differences that exist, so that we mutually trust the carbon units that will be issued in different countries. We need to agree that we will not discriminate against technology - to proclaim the principle of technological neutrality. Understanding that both the atom is low-carbon and hydropower.’
In addition, Maksim Reshetnikov emphasized that it is important to fight the imposition of supranational mechanisms for charging additional fees through carbon regulation. Such attempts, according to Minister, violate the rules of trade and the WTO. ‘We should spend climate funds not in those countries where goods are consumed, where wealth is concentrated, but in those countries where it will be most effective to reduce emissions or increase removals. The Paris Agreement needs effective implementation mechanisms’ he summarized.
First Deputy Chairman of the Bank of Russia Ksenia Yudaeva also shared the results of the work on sustainable development. ‘The Bank of Russia has already issued recommendations for issuing companies that issue shares, bonds on the markets. We have some banks started to develop their own questionnaires and request information from their borrowers. In the next stages, we should probably think about wider dissemination of this practice and make it compulsory rather than recommended. We are also preparing recommendations for boards of directors on ESG-factors accounting in the activities of organizations; recommendations for disclosure by financial institutions on ESG-factors accounting in offering financial products and services to clients; recommendations for disclosure by non-credit institutions of non-financial information’ said Ksenia Yudaeva.
In addition, according to the speaker, the Bank of Russia is working with the government on the taxonomy of social projects and the launch of green mortgages.
TASS is the general news agency of the First International Congress on Sustainable Finance: Ecumene 2021.
International Congress on Sustainable Finance: ECUMENE 2021 is supported by the United Nations. The general partner of the event is Gazprombank JSC.
Additional information is available at the following link.