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Press review: What to expect from COP26 and Russia to tackle greenhouse gas absorption

Top stories from the Russian press on Monday, November 1st

Kommersant: UN Climate Change Conference kicks off in Glasgow

The much-awaited Glasgow-hosted UN climate talks kicked off yesterday. The key issues of the conference for the next two weeks include the confirmation of countries’ intentions to decrease greenhouse emissions more intensively, the approval of the rules of operation of the economic mechanism of the Paris Agreement as well as continued fundraising in order to help developing countries. The most important subjects for Russia during these talks, according to Russian Economic Development Minister Maxim Reshetnikov, are the definition of the parameters and prospects of forest climate projects, the opportunity of mutually recognizing carbon units in different countries as well as the recognition of nuclear energy as low-carbon.

The two-week UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) will be attended by about 30,000 participants, including US President Joe Biden, French President Emmanuel Macron and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson. That said, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese leader Xi Jinping will participate via online videoconference.

Yesterday at the conference, the World Meteorological Organization presented data on climate change worldwide. The past seven years most likely had become the hottest in the planet’s history. On average, the temperature over the first nine months of 2021 was 1.08°С higher than pre-industrial levels (1850-1900), while the sea level from 2013 through 2021 on average had risen 4.4 mm a year. In order to attain the goal of 1.5°С established by the Paris Agreement, it is necessary to decrease emissions by 45% by 2030 compared to 2010. A number of experts have already stated that the established goal of containing global warming at the level of 1.5°С is hardly attainable.

Meanwhile, Gilles Dufrasne of Carbon Market Watch told the newspaper that Russia’s proposal to recognize forest carbon units wouldn’t receive serious support since so far such projects do not elicit trust in the global community. Priority should be given to curbing emissions on a national level first. Climate and Energy Program Director at WWF Russia Alexey Kokorin concurs. He thinks that internal projects and systems of carbon unit trade would be developed first while the few projects of purchasing carbon units abroad would be related to the support of developing countries.


Izvestia: Russia ready for cooperation on absorption of greenhouse gases

Russia will soon implement new agricultural technologies for the absorption of greenhouse gases, Russian President Vladimir Putin told the G20 summit on October 31. Moscow also suggested experts analyze the most effective ecology projects. For Russia, this is an important issue, since the average annual temperature in the country is increasing more rapidly than throughout the world. The climate issue was one of the key ones during the meeting in Rome. "In implementing the climate and environmental initiatives, the Group of Twenty needs to be a leader in shaping unified, and I will stress, fair, and what is very important, transparent rules of climate regulation. These rules should be based on mutually recognized models of accounting and monitoring the emissions and absorption of greenhouse gases," the Russian leader said.

Deputy Speaker of the Russian Federation Council Konstantin Kosachev noted that the Russian leader’s key message was that the decisions have to be inclusive and collective. "According to information coming from the summit, the G20 countries are not going to assume any new substantial obligations on curbing global warming or designate new more radical goals that ‘green’ activists were demanding of them before the Rome meeting." The senator added that, as Putin noted, it is important for all players on the energy market to act responsibly based on the interests of all sides and it is necessary to move on to normal market relations built exclusively on economic considerations and mutual benefit.

On the same day, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov summarized the results of his own participation in the summit which he evaluated overall as positive. In the final communique, the parties agreed to undertake steps to increase the deliveries of vaccines against coronavirus. In addition, an oral agreement was reached on decreasing greenhouse emissions. He also briefly interacted with US President Joe Biden and possibly discussed the upcoming meeting between the leaders of the two countries.

According to Director of the G20 Research Group at the University of Toronto John Kirton, the summit gave a strong start to the process of resolving climate issues and supplying vaccines against coronavirus. He also added that the participants supported the idea of global taxation on large corporations which is an important mechanism for curbing populist anger over the rich getting even richer during the pandemic while not paying taxes. These and other issues will be discussed in greater detail in Glasgow where the leaders of the majority of countries present at the G20 summit headed straight from Rome to attend the UN Climate Change Conference.


Rossiyskaya Gazeta: US confirms market status of Russian economy

"This is the first time the US Department of Commerce is conducting an assessment procedure regarding market status revocation. The decision will have to be studied in detail. At the same time, it offers a positive signal that Russian exporters retain an entire arsenal of opportunities to protect their interests in American anti-dumping procedures, and that the United States does not intend to neglect its commitments to the World Trade Organization (WTO)," Deputy Minister of Economic Development Vladimir Ilyichev told TASS.

American officials launched a probe over whether Russia’s economy is complying with the market economy status back in August within the framework of an anti-dumping analysis of ammonium nitrate supplies from Russia. According to experts, a negative outcome would have carried risks mostly for raw materials companies - the chemical industry, metallurgy and the producers of fertilizers.

The 242-page document notes that the balance of changes in the Russian economy shows that there is no sufficient proof to change its status while the Commerce Department intends to monitor the progress of the reforms of the Russian economy. The US authorities analyzed the economy according to six criteria, including the level of the convertibility of the Russian ruble and the situation with corruption, legality and freedom of information. While the US executive agency mentions that the latter are still reasons for concern, it notes that the situation both with the ruble and corruption has improved when compared to 2002.

RANEPA's Alexander Pakhomov earlier told the newspaper that obtaining market economy status in 2002 was one of the biggest successes of Russia’s economic diplomacy. According to him, China was trying to attain this status for years with no success. "If we are deprived of this status, this sharply increases discrimination against Russian companies, usually raw materials [producers], or quasi-raw materials ones, particularly those with state participation. Accordingly, such companies would encounter greater restrictions and anti-dumping procedures. At the same time, Director of the Center for Market Studies at the Higher School of Economics Georgy Ostapkovich thinks that Washington’s decisions on a country’s status mostly carry reputational losses. "The market economy indicator is a signal to counteragents and partners, it means that other countries should not worry about dumping, or, the opposite, the increase in product prices. As an example, there are China’s actions that is not among countries with a market economy, in 2018 they slashed prices of metals by nearly half. As a result, many switched to China, and began buying specifically their products, then China sharply doubled the prices," he said.


Nezavisimaya Gazeta: EU, NATO to form Multinational Corps Southeast

Against the background of increased instability in Donbass, the West is again talking about Russia increasing its military presence near the Ukrainian border. At the same time, the number of military units of the Ukrainian armed forces in the country’s southeast conflict zone has doubled in some areas. Meanwhile, the US Sixth fleet began its drills in the Black Sea, while the European Union is discussing military measures that seek to roll back Russian influence in Southeastern Europe.

The EU hammered out a policy brief entitled Waves of ambition, focusing on Russia’s military build-up in Crimea and the Black sea. The report of the European Council on Foreign Relations says that "Western countries should increase their militaries’ interoperability with Black Sea states’ armed forces and improve the infrastructure they use to deploy reinforcements in the region." For instance, it is proposed to create NATO Multinational Corps Southeast and provide regular military assistance to Georgia, Ukraine and Moldova by ensuring a constant military presence in the Azov and Black Sea regions. As if confirming these statements, US Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia, Laura Cooper, recently proposed to European allies to "lift their restrictions on defensive lethal assistance" to Kiev, while the US and NATO are already practically implementing the idea of constant military presence in the Black Sea.

The expert community links these events with Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin’s recent visit to Kiev who promised to support Ukraine in its fight against Russia which Ukraine took as a signal to action. On October 30, head of the unrecognized Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) Denis Pushilin said that Ukraine was beefing up its military potential in Donbass, in his opinion preparing "for war or a serious provocation." This can be confirmed by a recent document on the creation of Ukraine’s Territorial Defense Forces which would increase the number of Ukrainian servicemen by a third. Speaking about the increased Ukrainian military presence in Donbass, military expert, retired colonel Nikolai Shulgin explained that Ukraine is increasing its reserves in the event of losses in a possible offensive.

It appears that Russia is reacting to these actions. Although there is no convincing proof of that, as the Washington Post claims, Russia is moving its troops to the Ukrainian border, however, in the conditions of a possible war in Donbass, Russian troops on the southwestern strategic direction are on constant alert.


Vedomosti: Moldova convinces Gazprom to tie gas supplies to oil

On October 29, Moldova’s Moldovagaz and Russia’s Gazprom inked a new five-year agreement to supply Russian gas to Moldova. According to Moldovan Deputy Prime Minister Andrei Spinu, deliveries will begin on November 1. According to him, talks included several rounds of discussions at various levels. He added that according to the contract, the gas price would be formulated according to a certain correlation of market oil and gas prices. The Moldovan official noted that in the current conditions, the gas price for Moldova would be below the market price by a half and lower than what the country was paying in October, adding that the agreement is of a purely commercial nature and excludes any political aspects of relations between Russia and Moldova.

Gazprom’s previous contract expired in September, though it was concluded back in 2006 and was repeatedly renewed. In October, Moldova was purchasing Russian gas at a market price of $790 per 1000 cubic meters while conducting talks on a new contract, trying to reach a price of $200-300 per 1000 cubic meters, according to TASS. The talks were complicated by Moldova’s debt to Gazprom.

Raiffeisenbank’s Andrey Polishchuk thinks that tying the gas price to oil in long-term contracts during the next five years will still be more profitable than spot prices. According to him, the long-term orientation of LNG suppliers to the Asian market which in the absence of additional supplies will lead to a rise in spot gas prices in Europe will become one of the key factors. He added that Gazprom accommodated the Moldovan side, practically giving Moldovagaz a discount. According to the expert, this deal should provide for the restructuring of Moldova’s debt, "otherwise Gazprom would have hardly agreed to these conditions." According to Sergei Suverov, investment strategist at Artkapital, such long-term agreement will allow Chisinau to receive gas at a more attractive price. The expert thinks that it satisfies the interests of both sides since it is important for Gazprom to retain the Moldovan market.

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